Business must stay the course in uncertain times to solve the global sustainability challenge


05 April, 2022




It is just 20 weeks since we all gathered for COP26 in Glasgow, and yet, today, we find ourselves in a very different world.

The COVID-19 pandemic lingers and is not yet extinguished. Conflict has erupted on Europe’s eastern boundaries. Immense shocks to food and energy systems and other commodity value chains have been triggered by the conflict, compounding the financial stress that governments and business have suffered from the pandemic.

In the midst of all this, the IPCC has released two scientific assessments this year, covering the impacts of climate change and how to mitigate against it. The news was stark – it is ‘now or never’ if the world is to stave off climate disaster.

Business is having to navigate this new geopolitical context. But if the world is to emerge stronger, business must stay the course on sustainability, despite, but also because of the current disruptions in energy and food systems. 

This week, WBCSD is gathering eminent sustainability professionals from the world’s leading companies and organizations to facilitate co-creation and alignment to deliver solutions for a net-zero, nature-positive and equitable world.

Climate change remains an urgent challenge. We have moved beyond target setting and must now measure and reduce emissions.  To achieve this, we must address carbon transparency in order to drive collaborative results across value chains.

Meanwhile, in the face of social tensions rolling across the world, business needs to provide answers to how they can tackle growing inequalities.  Business has an important role to play to ensure greater access to income, wealth, opportunity and wellbeing for all and not just a select few. While inequality remains rife, efforts to tackle the climate emergency will fail. 

Underpinning all of this is the need for business to redefine value.  Value must include social and environmental value, as well as just economic. It is only through the equal recognition of all three forms of value that we will see the transformation needed in business and the positive impact on sustainability.

Expectations on business accountability by capital markets, investors and stakeholders continue to accelerate, and aligning business is critical. We must work with the leading standard setters to inform ambitious and pragmatic solutions for credible reporting across value chains.

We will continue to work with our member companies on how global business can “stay the course” on imperative sustainability challenges, while remaining engaged in discussions with partners like the United Nations on how we can ensure we mitigate disruption in systems like energy and food to remain on course for 9+ billion people living well, within planetary boundaries.

The clock is ticking – there are just eight years left in the UN Decade of Action.  In this first face-to-face meeting in two years, WBCSD and its member companies are turning words into actions to take the next step in the journey towards a net zero, nature-positive and more equal world.