Maurice Strong, then Secretary General of the Rio summit, invited Mr. Schmidheiny to coordinate the business participation in the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Its success lead to a book, Changing Course: A global business perspective on development and the environment, which gathers the expertise of more than 50 global business leaders to show how the business community can achieve environmental protection coupled with economic growth.

Following the summit, Schmidheiny and his fellow business partners concluded that to keep up the momentum that had been created, it was necessary to keep the cooperation alive. In 1995, the Council merged with the World Industry Council on the Environment and opened its secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland: the WBCSD was born. A second office in Washington DC, United States was opened in 2007.

Today, the WBCSD has some 200 members drawn from more than 35 countries and 20 major industrial sectors, involving some 1,000 business leaders globally. The Council also comprises a Regional Network of  60 national and regional partner organizations – called Business Councils for Sustainable Development (BCSDs) – mostly located in developing countries.

Björn Stigson headed the organization from 1995 until the end of 2011.

Peter Bakker became President at the start of 2012. 



Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 
The WBCSD will continue to work with its members to fulfill the MDGs, including to halve the proportion of world’s people subsisting on an income of less than $1 a day; to halve the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water; to ensure that all children complete primary education; and to halt and begin to reverse the spread of AIDS.


Kyoto Protocol
Kyoto’s objective is to have reduced overall greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5% below 1990 levels by 2012. The WBCSD will work with its members towards achieving this goal.


Energy and Climate 
WBCSD publishes the long awaited and much acclaimed Policy Directions to 2050, indicating possible options for action within a revised international framework after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Doing business with the world
In a Statement of Intent for Doing Business with the World the leaders of twelve WBCSD member companies commit to looking beyond corporate philanthropy to search for responsible, sustainable and inclusive business models that are good for business and good for development.


From challenge to opportunity 
The Tomorrow’s Leaders group puts their thoughts into words and publishes their hard-hitting manifesto for tomorrow’s global business in From Challenge to Opportunity: The role of business in tomorrow’s society.

Doing business 
Can business do business in ways that reduce poverty and save the environment? That was the topic of the highly successful debate gathering 250 people to discuss The Role of Business in Tomorrow’s Society. Among the participants were CEOs of leading global companies, government representatives, intergovernmental organizations and members of civil society organizations such as Greenpeace, Oxfam and WWF.

Ecosystems – From Initiative to Focus Area
Given the pace of change of ecosystems issues, the WBCSD Executive Committee decided in October in New York to turn the Sustaining Ecosystems Initiative into the Ecosystems Focus Area, the fourth WBCSD Focus Area.


10 years again! 
In 2005, the WBCSD celebrated its 1995 merger with the WICE.

Strategy to 2015
Looking forward to the next decade of activity, WBCSD adopts its Strategy to 2015. Over the next 10 years the focus of WBCSD’s activities will be on advocacy work and getting companies to integrate sustainability concerns into their activities. As part of this effort, the WBCSD defines three key Focus Areas: Energy & Climate, Development, and the Business Role.

Tomorrow’s Leaders
Bjorn Stigson brings together eight global business leaders - Adidas, BP, CLP, GrupoNueva, Procter & Gamble, Storebrand, Swiss Re and TNT – in a group called Tomorrow’s Leaders to discuss the role of business in tomorrow’s society.


Pro-poor business strategies 
WBCSD releases Doing Business with the Poor, a publication aimed at explaining how business can engage with the poorer populations of the globe.


Ready! Set! Chronos! 
The WBCSD releases its first edition of Chronos, the e-learning tutorial on the business case for sustainable development, helping move sustainable development thinking into the mainstream.


World Summit on Sustainable Development 
The WBCSD plays a prominent role in the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa in September 2002. As part of its efforts for WSSD, WBCSD publishes Walking the Talk: The Business case for sustainable development.


10 years already! 
12 April 2001, WBCSD celebrates the 10th anniversary of the first BCSD.

Preparing for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)
In preparation for WSSD in Johannesburg in 2002, the WBCSD publishes The business case for sustainable development: Making a difference beyond the Johannesburg Summit 2002 and beyond.

Future Leaders come together
Originally called the Young Managers Team, the first WBCSD Future Leaders Team was formed in 2001 to provide a fresh perspective on business at the Johannesburg Summit.


Doing sustainable development
The WBCSD starts publishing member company sustainable development best practices with examples from Bayer, Western Power and BC Hydro. There are more than 350 case studies today.

WBCSD in China 
WBCSD signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the China Enterprise Corporation to cooperate towards sustainability in China.


Launch of the UN Global Compact 
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan calls for a Global Compact between UN and business. In this context he highlights the efforts of the WBCSD, saying: “The WBCSD has already shown itself an invaluable partner in providing this leadership. Now we need to demonstrate in practice, by concrete example, that doing the right things makes good business sense.”

Launch of Dow Jones Sustainability Group World Index. It tracks the performance of the world’s leading sustainability driven companies.

The WBCSD and UNCTAD set up the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA).


Stakeholder dialogues begin 
The WBCSD establishes its Learning by Sharing program to facilitate the transfer of best practice between members.


Rio +5
Five years after Rio, Rio +5 is convened to discuss progress since the Earth Summit and to build on the momentum created by the event. During the forum, the WBCSD co-hosts a high-level round-table for governments, NGO and business leaders. Member CEOs meet with 250 leading civil society representatives.

Signals of Change 
To mark the fifth anniversary of Rio, the WBCSD publishes Signals of Change, a report describing the progress of business since the 1992 Earth Summit.

The Kyoto Protocol to tackle climate change is launched in 1997 and the WBCSD takes an active role.


Canadian government buys into eco-efficiency concept 
The Canadian government announces that it will adopt the concept of eco-efficiency and integrate it into governmental programs.


The WBCSD is formed 
On January 1, 1995 the World Industry Council for the Environment (WICE) and BCSD merge to form the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The new organization sets up its headquarters in Geneva with Björn Stigson as President.


Changing Course
Stephan Schmidheiny and the BCSD produce the first publication to tackle the business role in the environment and development, Changing Course: A Global Business Perspective on Development and the Environment. The book has been published in 13 languages and sold more than 200,000 copies.

BCSD coins the term 'eco-efficiency' 
The concept of 'eco-efficiency' refers to 'creating more value with less impact.' Companies committed to eco-efficiency endeavor to produce goods and services using fewer resources and generating less waste and pollution. Research has found that eco-efficiency measures pay big dividends in cost-savings.

Launch of national BCSDs in other parts of the world
The first national BCSD is formed in Argentina. A Latin America BCSD is launched after Rio. In Asia, Philippine Business for the Environment is formed and BCSDs are launched in Indonesia and Malaysia.


First meeting of the BCSD
April, 12 1991, the first meeting of the newly formed Business Council for Sustainable Development takes place in The Hague.


Maurice Strong appoints Stephan Schmidheiny his principal advisor for business and industry
Maurice Strong, the Secretary-General of UNCED, invites Swiss businessman Stephan Schmidheiny to be his principal advisor on business and industry and to lead business participation at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio.

Business Council for Sustainable Development created
Stephan Schmidheiny creates the first Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD) with 48 business leaders to represent the voice of business at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio.

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