With the Rio+20 conference right around the corner, organizations, NGOs, businesses, governments are all getting ready to discuss issues in sustainable development and growth. How to make it meaningful? For the World Economic Forum, (WEF) it means breaking the mold of traditional inter-governmental discussions and laying the path towards a new era of global business, global economics and environmental management.
An interview with Domic Waughray, Senior Director and Head of Environmental Initiatives at the WEF led me to the deep-seated point of what Rio+20 and the WEF have in common: finding the steps to practical growth and healthier living for the global population. <<Listen to the interview below>>
The way environmental capital is being consumed from population growth and increases in consumption means we have no other choice but to branch out and find new ways of consuming, producing and living. As Dominic says “heavy discussions on environment, ecology and economics fall into the bread and butter of economic growth theory, on how to maximize wealth within certain constraints. Now, the environment needs to be looked at as a collection of precious assets that we must not exploit or we’ll move even closer to a tipping point of unknowns”.
There are two ways in which, according to Dominic’s expertise, we can essentially change the way we do business. The first is looking at sustainable consumption patterns. Nowadays we, as the consumer, have a lot of power: “our role is not passive, but much more dynamic. Our relationships are more networked, thus delivering an authority of choice. The way we can improve our choices is by creating interest groups in better quality products – this way we can stay informed, and thus make more informed choices. In the future, the use of the technology, networks, NGOs and communities to deliver information to the consumer will only increase.”
The second viewpoint is that the world is a different place than twenty years ago when the 1992 Rio Earth Summit took place. The international system then had just seen the fall of the Soviet Union. Now it’s the rise of China, Brazil, and South Africa resulting the shift in dollar surplus away from the United States.
This coming June, the role of scaled partnerships involving multi-stakeholder partnerships will drive forward the new agenda at Rio+20, and recognizing the legitimacy of the Sustainable Development Goals will drive the impact. For example as Dominic commented “initiatives that bring together new emerging countries like Vietnam, Tanzania and Mexico with the Food and Agriculture Organization, International Fund for Agricultural Development, NGOs and key businesses will enable in the best investment plan for sustainable agriculture and rural employment. This new domain will increase platforms and models like GROW Africa and the Water Resources group at the World Bank. These models will get the job done the way action will be mobilized around Rio+20, however, only IF the international system starts to recognize the power of us and multinational partnerships.”
Watch out Rio, the WEF is coming….
Listen to the interview with Dominic Waughrey and leave your comments below!