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Rio+20 demonstrates that we’re “headed in the right direction”

By Dave Pearson - June 23, 2012

Dttl_antsonbranchAs more than a week of activities at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) concluded yesterday, I think everyone who contributed thought leadership, put their and their organization’s support behind conference goals, and supported the sessions should be happy with where the conference ended: that is, happy that change is happening and that we are headed in the right direction, but not, in my opinion, content to think the work is done.

As you know from our messages over the past week, Rio+20 set out to help shape new policies to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty, and advance social equity and environmental protection.  Along those lines, those of us who participated in a related conference over the past several days—the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum (CSF)—had three specific goals in mind:

  • Set the stage for further growth for companies engaged in sustainable development
  • Demonstrate that many solutions for sustainable development already exist
  • Demonstrate concrete, tangible action on a massive scale

We concluded Monday night with most attendees having the impression that the CSF has largely achieved those goals and raised the bar on innovation and collaboration.  A document outlining priorities in several key areas— including water, finance, energy and climate, etc.—will be delivered to the Secretary General of the UN this week. 

Throughout the week, hundreds of commitments have been posted by companies on the United Nations website. Personally, I am impressed with what has been achieved, however, I think all the participants would agree that this is not enough. We need to take the message of "scaling" what has been discussed here to companies that intend to make sustainability a priority. We must share these ideas, so that others have confidence in their own ideas and approaches, and to share leading practices that can be adapted. At the end of the day, we believe that business must drive this change. Government can and should play a role and provide help and support, but, ultimately, business has to get it done.

I believe the contingent of Deloitte member firms at Rio+20 contributed quite effectively to the conferencey— from participating in side events to moderating panels and presenting positions that facilitated round table discussions. The Deloitte brand in this area is strong and well respected. This is a good base upon which to build as Deloitte member firms develop their business and support sustainable development for clients.

David PearsonDavid Pearson is Global Director, Member Firm HR Support, and Director, Internal Sustainability, for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. He previously served as CEO of Deloitte CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States). David has more than 20 years' experience in public accounting and private industry as well as extensive experience working with large Russian and multinational businesses in the telecommunications, consumer products, mining, and metallurgical industries. In particular he has assisted clients seeking success in developing markets or transforming into efficient, well-run companies with a high level of corporate governance.


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I deeply appreciate taht Deloitte was involved in Rio+20 and i also salute your initiative to make a quick overview of the summit.
Nevertheless I think the overview compliments too much the RIO+20. There isn´t any document or agreement taht is actually ruled by any law, all the commitments -700 in total- are voluntary based.

It is very easy to say that we are in the right path, Cancun and Copenhagen were already a failure, filled of many commitments as well, but how many other conferences or summits will we stay in the "right path" without taking any concrete agreement?

It is also important to underline that The mainrepresentants of USA, Germany, Japan and Italy were absent from the summit... they send only their delagates. And those countries acount of aproximately 40% of the global CO2 emissions.. It reveals then a lack of commitment in RIO+20.

Things are changing yes, certainly. But it will be too ambitious to transmit that it is "impressive of what has been achieved" in RIO+20.

Deloitte is indeed a "major actor" worldwide, it can be an even bigger one if it can promote and "contagiate" Sustainable and CSR actions and programs in the private sphere, directly within its clients.



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