World Business Council for Sustainable Development

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The World Business Council for Sustainable Development is a Swiss based peak business association of more than 200 TNCs dedicated to promoting business as an environmentally friendly actor on key global issues. The Council acts as a networking hub for its corporate members and and provides access to the world's policy-makers through its work with governments, IGOs and NGOs. The association is formed of companies from 20 major industrial sectors located in 35 countries across the globe. The influence of the WBCSD network is enhanced through its links with a further 55 national / regional councils or through its regional partners.[1] This global network has played a key role in shaping the current corporate friendly direction of the sustainable development debate and was a key actor in lobbying for type II (voluntary) outcomes at the Johannesburg summit in 2002. [2]

The WBCSD was the brainchild of Swiss industrialist Stephan Schmidheiny. Originally named the Business Council for Sustainable Development, it was set up to act as a lobby group promoting a more coordinated 'industry position' at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Since then it has merged with another organisation - the World Industry Council for the Environment (WICE), set up by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) - and has become a powerful player in the international trade system with members including Shell International, Rio Tinto, Monsanto and Mitsubishi. The WBCSD, while claiming to champion sustainable development and environmental issues, is at the same time an active voice against the regulation of transnational corporations, for deregulation on trade and environmental issues, and the voluntary approach.

Role and remit

In 1992, the Swiss industrialist, Stephen Schmidheiny, set up the Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD). The BCSD was specifically formed to promote the 'business point of view' at the Rio Earth Summit. Since then, the BCSD has merged with the World Industry Council for the Environment (WICE) - set up by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) - to form the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in 1995.

The WBCSD is now an international coalition of 200 international companies including most of the largest transnational corporations in the world like General Motors, Shell International, Mitsubishi Corporation, Unilever, Dow Chemical, Rio Tinto, Nestle, Monsanto, ICI, Eastman Kodak, Novartis and ABB. As well as its international office, the WBCSD has also created regional and national Business Councils - for example in Latin America, Poland, Nigeria and Malaysia - in order to widen its influence . The international part of the WBCSD has a strong insider role in the WTO, the World Bank, OECD and IMF where it is seen as the respectable voice of big business.

WBCSD's declared objectives includes influencing policy development to 'create the right framework conditions for business to make an effective contribution to sustainable human progress' [3]


In 1997 CorpWatch reviewed the WBCSD's report (Title Signals of Change) on progress since the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992:

The WBCSD has always positioned itself as a group of business leaders who accept and embrace the need for sustainable development and environmental protection. But to judge from their recent publications, such as their "Annual Review 1996," and "Signals of Change," a report on corporate progress toward sustainable development since UNCED, they have toned down their claims. It may well be that this softer approach is compromise with the least progressive of the 125 corporate executives which make up the WBCSD.
The overall tone of recent WBCSD pronouncements is one of reassurance; to governments and NGOs, reassurance that business understands and is voluntarily taking action; and to their members, reassurance that things are changing but not too fast; that some action is needed but not too much.
This carefully crafted tone of heartening ambiguity masks the reality that WBCSD members, along with many other large corporations, have pushed hard over the last five years for increased corporate power on the global stage. They have been the primary force behind negotiations under GATT, WTO, NAFTA and now the OECD's Multilateral Agreement on Investment. All of these agreements give corporations ever greater rights and ever fewer trade and investment restrictions. There is simply no evidence that increased corporate rights has led or will lead toward sustainable development or environmental protection, yet this assumption underlies the WBCSD philosophy.
The WBCSD believes that "in the five years since UNCED, business has made great progress towards finding ways of implementing the goal of sustainable development." [Signals of Change p.6] Yet as the Global Environmental Outlook published by the UN makes clear, "overall trends have continued to worsen."
The WBCSD says that " is not clear how much of this [energy] can safely be derived from carbon-based fuels. Given the right market signals, business will provide new energy technologies." [4] Yet their members -- which include Shell, Texaco, British Petroleum -- along with other oil companies continue to fight against signals which would encourage other energy sources over carbon-based fuels.
The WBCSD remarks that the Earth Summit texts have "far more to say to government than business." They neglect to add that the BCSD and ICC themselves insisted on this as the relentlessly lobbied UNCED delegates against any criticism of transnational corporations in the Earth Summit negotiations.
WBCSD Chairman Livio DeSimone says that "Business...used to be depicted as a primary source of the world's environmental problems. Today it is increasingly viewed as a vital contributor to solving those problems and securing a sustainable future for the planet." [Chairman Livio DeSimone annual review p.3] and that "...the WBCSD is now playing a vital role in shaping the sustainable development agenda." (WBCSD Executive Director Bjorn Stigson p.4] We at the Greenwash Awards add that the depiction of business as the source of environmental problems is based on the facts; to the extent that it is viewed as vital contributor of solutions, this is due partly to genuine advances made by business, partly to business' own PR efforts, and partly to the public's desperate desire to believe that businesss will do the right thing of its own accord, since neither the United Nations, nor nation-states, nor any other entity seems to have the power to force them to do so in this the age of corporate globalization .
More important than the tepid rhetoric of the WBCSD is the behavior of its members. In "Signals of Change," the WBCSD chooses case studies of some its members in the areas of eco-efficiency, waste minimization, environmental accounting and other domains it considers "building blocks to a more sustainable way of doing things." WBCSD believes these tell "a good story." The stories they have to tell about progress are no more exciting than the ones told in the International Chamber of Commerce's "From Ideas to Action," also published in 1992. Some of these "stories" are so banal, so insignificant in light of the needs described in Agenda 21, that it is frightening to think they are the best the WBCSD could find for the 5 year review.[5]



The WBCSD is a member-led organization governed by a Council composed of the Council Members of their member companies. The Council elects the Executive Committee, including the Chairman and three Vice Chairmen. In 2009, the council comprised[6]:

HONORARY CHAIRMAN - Stephan Schmidheiny | CHAIRMAN Global Chief Executive Officer - Samuel A DiPiazza Jr. of PricewaterhouseCoopers | VICE CHAIRMEN Chairman and Managing Director - Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries, Chairman Jorma Ollila of Royal Dutch Shell and Honorary Chairman and Member of the Board Dr. Shoichiro Toyoda of Toyota Motor Corporation.
Chief Executive Officer - Markus Akermann of Holcim Ltd | Vice Chairman, Publisher, IHT - Michael Golden of The New York Times Company | Chairman and Chief Executive Officer - Charles O. Holliday Jr. of DuPont | Chairman of the Executive Board - Anne Lauvergeon of AREVA | Chief Executive - Jacob Maroga of Eskom Holdings Ltd | Director - Teruaki Masumoto of Tokyo Electric Power Company | Chairman - Julio Moura of Natura International Committee | James E Rogers of Duke Energy Corporation | Vice Chairman - Wang Jiming of China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec) | EX OFFICIO Vice Chairman - Rajat Kumar Gupta of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

Executive Board

In 2009, the WBCSD's Executive Board is listed as[7]

Margaret Flaherty - Chief of Staff | Matthew Bateson - Energy & Climate | Ricarda McFalls - Development| James Griffiths - Sustainable Ecosystems & Forest | Per Sandberg - The Business Role | Marcel Engel - Regional Network | Lynette Thorstensen - Communications.

Presidential office

The WBCSD's Presidential office comprised (in 2009)[9]:

Kathy Douglas and Mireille Debiol as Executive assistants | Mireille Debiol and George Weyerhaeuser as Senior Fellows | Lacey Wrubel - Researcher.


In 2009, member companies are listed as[10]:


South Africa: ESKOM | Mondi | Sappi Limited


Baosteel Group Corporation (China) | China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company, (COSCO) | China Petrochemical Corporation (SINOPEC) | Chinese Petroleum Corporation (Chinese Taipei) | Chunghwa Telecom (Chinese Taipei) | Long Chen Paper Company (Chinese Taipei) | CLP (China) | Infosys (India) | Reliance Industries (India) | Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Ltd (APRIL) - Indonesia | Kuwait Petroleum Corporation | Pakistan State Oil Company | Abdul Latif Jameel Group (Saudi Arabia]] | GS Caltex Corporation (South Korea) | Hankook Tire Co. Ltd (South Korea) | KUMHO Tire Co. Inc. (South Korea) | POSCO (South Korea) | Samsung Electronics (South Korea)| PTT Public Company Limited (Thailand) | Siam Cement Group (SCG) - Thailand
  • Japan:
Asahi Glass | Bridgestone Corporation | Canon | Chubu Electric Power Co. Inc | DENSO | Hitachi Chemical | Honda Motor | Kansai Electric | Kikkoman | Mitsubishi Chemical | Mitsubishi Corporation | Mitsui & Co | Nippon Paper Group Inc. | Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corporation | Nissan Motor | Oji Paper | Osaka Gas | Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd | Seiko Holdings Corporation | Sompo Japan Insurance | Sony | Sumitomo Chemicals | Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. | Taiheiyo Cement | Teijin Limited | Tokyo Electric Power Company | Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd | Toyota Motor | The Yokohama Rubber Company


Borealis (Austria) | Swarovski (Austria) | Umicore (Belgium) | Podravka (Croatia) | Grundfos (Denmark) | Novo Nordisk (Denmark) | Novozymes (Denmark) | Vestas Wind Systems A/S (Denmark) | Fortum (Finland) | Metsäliitto Group (Finland) | Nokia (Finland) | Stora Enso (Finland) | UPM (Finland) | Titan Cement (Greece) | CRH (Ireland) | EcoSecurities (Ireland) | ArcelorMittal (Luxemburg) | Energy Holding (Romania) | Basic Element (Russia) | JSC Gazprom (Russia) | Snegiri Development (Russia) | Skanska (Sweden) | SKF (Sweden) | Vattenfall AB (Sweden) | Eczacibasi Holding (Turkey)

France: AREVA | EDF Group | Gaz de France | L'Oréal | Lafarge | Michelin | Suez | Veolia Environnement
Germany: adidas AG | Allianz | BASF | Bayer | Continental AG | Deutsche Bank | E.ON | Evonik | HeidelbergCement | Henkel | Robert Bosch GmbH | Volkswagen
Italy: Eni S.p.A. | FALCK Group | Italcementi Group | Pirelli & Co., S.p.A. | Telecom Italia S.p.A.
The Netherlands: Akzo Nobel | DSM N.V. | KPMG | Royal Dutch Shell plc. | Royal Philips Electronics | TNT N.V. | Unilever
Norway: Det Norske Veritas | DnB NOR | Grieg International | Leif Höegh | Norsk Hydro | Norske Skogindustrier | Statkraft AS | Statoil | Storebrand
Portugal: Brisa | CIMPOR | EDP - Electricidade de Portugal, S.A. | Portucel Soporcel Group | Sonae
Spain: ACCIONA | Cementos Portland Valderrivas S.A. | Repsol YPF | Telefonica
Switzerland: ABB | Firmenich | F. Hoffmann-La Roche | Holcim | Novartis | SGS Société Générale de Surveillance Holding | Syngenta
United Kingdom: Anglo American | BG Group | BP | Environmental Resources Management Group | Rio Tinto | Vodafone Group

Latin America

Brazil: Aracruz Celulose | Cimentos Liz | Natura Cosméticos S.A. | Petrobras | Suzano Papel e Celulose | Vale | Votorantim Participações
Codelco (Chile) | GrupoNueva (Chile) | CEMEX (Mexico) | Panamá Canal Authority (Panama)

North America

Canada: BC Hydro | Petro-Canada | Suncor Energy
USA: 3M | Accenture | AES Corporation | AIG | Air Products and Chemicals Inc. | Alcoa | American Electric Power | Boeing | Caterpillar | CH2M HILL | Chevron Corporation | ConocoPhillips | Cooper Tire & Rubber Company | Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu | Dow Chemical | Duke Energy | DuPont | Entergy Corporation | Exelon | Ford Motor Company | General Electric | General Motors | Greif | IBM | Interface | International Paper | ITT Industries | Johnson Controls | Johnson & Johnson | Kimberly-Clark Corporation | MeadWestvaco | Newmont Mining | Oracle | PepsiCo | PricewaterhouseCoopers | Procter & Gamble | Rohm and Haas Company | S.C. Johnson & Son | Smurfit-Stone | SunGard | The Boston Consulting Group | The Coca-Cola Company | The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company | The New York Times Co. | Time Warner | United Technologies Corporation | Weyerhaeuser


Australia: ANZ | BHP Billiton | GHD | Insurance Australia Group | Lend Lease | Woodside Energy
New Zealand: The Warehouse Group


WBCSD declared that the contributions they recieved from their members in 2003 ranged between US$10'000 and USD 20'000. they declared this in a request for funds from members that are signatories of the UN Global Compact. The WBCSD claimed that they were not able to cover the cost of providing business guidance and assistance for the UN Global Compact and requested funds towards their activities: such as their 2004 Leaders Summit and to create a publication "Source Book"[11]


UK affiliate of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development is the Business Council for Sustainable Development-UK[12]


In 2009, the WBCSD advertised its partner agencies as[13]

  • International organizations:
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) | Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) | CSD United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development | UNDP United Nations Development Programme | UNEP United Nations Environmental Programme, Division of Technology, Industry and Economics | United Nations Global Compact | World Bank
  • News & Content:
AFP Agence France Presse | Africa Renewal (New York) | CSR China | E&E Publishing (Washington, D.C.) | ENDS Europe Daily (London, ) | Environmental Finance (London) | Ethical Corporation (London, United Kingdom) | (Brussels, Belgium) | Financial Times (London ) | (Washington, DC) | GLOBE-Net (Vancouver, Canada) | ICTSD (Geneva, Switzerland) | International Trade Forum (Geneva, Switzerland) | IPS - Inter Press Service Europa (Berlin, Germany) | IRIN- Integrated Regional Information Networks (Geneva, Switzerland) | Lexis Nexis (Munster, Germany) | Science and Development Network (London) | Socialfunds (United States) | Sustainable Development International (London) | Thomson Reuters (London)
  • Institutes:
CASIN Centre for Applied Studies in International Negotiations (Geneva, Switzerland) | IIED International Institute for Environment & Development (London) | IISD International Institute for Sustainable Development (Winnipeg, Canada) | SEI Stockholm Environment Institute (Stockholm, Sweden) | TERI The Energy and Resources Institute (New Delhi, India) | WRI World Resources Institute (Washington, D.C.)
  • Foundations:
Bellagio Forum for Sustainable Development (Germany) | Development Gateway (Washington, D.C.) | Foundation for Business and Society (Hovik, Norway) | Rockefeller Foundation (New York)
  • NGOs:
Asia Pacific Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption & Production (Manila, Philippines) | Earthwatch Institute (Europe) - Oxford, UK | IUCN The World Conservation Union (Gland, Switzerland) | SNV Netherlands Development Organization (The Hague, Netherlands) | WWF International (Gland, Switzerland)
  • Initiative:
GRI Global Reporting Initiative (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
  • Universities/Training programs:
AIESEC International (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) | AGS Alliance for Global Sustainability (Cambridge (USA), Zurich, Tokyo) | Cambridge University Programme for Industry (Cambridge, UK) | LEAD Leadership for Environment and Development (London) | University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, USA)
  • Business organizations(outside their Regional Network):
BDI Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie (Berlin, Germany) | BIAC Business and Industry Advisory Committee (Paris, France) | BSR Business for Social Responsibility (San Francisco, USA) | Conference Board (New York) | CSE Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Stockholm, Sweden) | CSR Europe (Brussels, Belgium) | EPE European Partners for the Environment (Brussels, Belgium) | IBLF International Business Leaders Forum (London) | ICC International Chamber of Commerce (Paris, France) | WEF World Economic Forum (Geneva, Switzerland)

External links


  1. WBCSD About the WBCSD, Accessed 14 March 2009
  2. WBCSD WBCSD Home Page, Accessed 10 March 2009
  3. World Business Council for Sustainable Development Annual Review 2007:The Times they are a Changin February 2008. Accessed 14th April 2009
  4. Signals of Change p.7
  5. World Business Council on Sustainable Development, CorpWatch, 1 June 1997.
  6. World Business Council for Sustainable Development About WBCSD:Membership Accessed 10th April 2009
  7. World Business Council for Sustainable Development About the WBCSD:Executive Board Accessed 10th April 2009
  8. Finland’s Environmental Administration Björn Stigson Brief Biographical Data Accessed 10th April 2009
  9. World Business Council for Sustainable Development About the WBCSD:Executive Board Accessed 10th April 2009
  10. World Business Council for Sustainable Development About WBCSD:Membership Accessed 10th April 2009
  11. World \business Council for Sustainable Development Continued support for capacity building and business advisory to the United Nations Global Compact: Request for Funding 2004. Accessed 14th April 2009
  12. Business Council for Sustainable Development-UK Home page Accessed 14th April 2009
  13. World Business Council for Sustainable Development About the WBCSD:Partnerships Accessed 10th April 2009