World Business Council for Sustainable Development

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World Business Council for Sustainable Development
founding 1995
founder Stephan Schmidheiny
Seat Geneva , Switzerland
motto Dedicated to Making a Difference
main emphasis Sustainable development
Action space Global
people Peter Bakker (President & CEO)
Employees 50

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is an organization run by company boards that deals exclusively with the subject of "economy and sustainable development ".

The WBCSD sees itself as a facilitator, teaching companies the concept of sustainable development and helping them change the way they operate. An important part of the philosophy of the WBCSD is that companies can only operate sustainably if they can earn money with it.

The WBCSD represents corporate interests on the international political stage when it comes to the topic of sustainable development and corporate responsibility. For example, it represents economic interests at UN climate conferences and organized a global “Business Day” during the UN climate conference in Bali , on which the economy called on governments to act and spoke out in favor of clear emission targets.


The WBCSD has its origins in the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development , to which the Swiss entrepreneur Stephan Schmidheiny was appointed as a consultant. Schmidheiny founded the “Business Council for Sustainable Development”, which with the book “Kurswechsel. Global Entrepreneurial Perspectives for Development and the Environment ”established the concept of eco-efficiency .

In 1995 the Economic Council for Sustainable Development and the World Industry Council merged to form the World Economic Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The WBCSD is based in Geneva , Switzerland with offices in Washington, DC , United States and Brussels , Belgium .


The WBCSD is a forum for companies in which they can exchange knowledge and experience relating to sustainable development and promote company positions in cooperation with governments, non-governmental organizations and international organizations.

The World Economic Council has various projects in the field of sustainable development. While the focus of the work is on the topics of energy & climate protection, development cooperation, ecosystems and the role of companies in society, there are other projects tailored to company sectors, such as cement, mobility, tires, water and energy efficiency in buildings.

The aim of the WBCSD is:

  • To be the leading business organization in sustainable development;
  • To influence international politics in order to create framework conditions that enable companies to make a positive and effective contribution to sustainable development;
  • To further develop and promote the “business case” for sustainable development;
  • To demonstrate the contribution of companies to sustainable development and to support members to share experiences;
  • To positively influence the sustainable development of developing and emerging countries.

Influence and importance

In the 1990s, some NGOs heavily criticized the WBCSD's proximity to corporations, and the organization received the 1997 CorpWatch GreenWash Award.

Nevertheless, at the 2002 Earth Summit in Johannesburg , the WBCSD worked with its fiercest and most influential opponent, Greenpeace , to jointly call on governments to do more to protect the climate.

In 2003, a World Bank / IFC funded study identified the WBCSD as one of the "most influential forums for corporate social responsibility".

A survey conducted by Globescan in 2004 found the WBCSD to be the world's second most effective research institution on sustainable development. In a GlobeScan survey in 2006, 54 percent of the experts questioned said that the WBCSD will play a major role in the introduction and further development of sustainable development policies over the next five years - only the European Union did better with 69 percent.

WBCSD President Björn Stigson was ranked ninth on a list of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics in 2007.

Together with the WRI , the WBCSD is the initiator and publisher of the GHG Protocol ( Greenhouse Gas Protocol ) standard series for carbon accounting in companies and regional authorities .


Companies can only become members of the organization at the invitation of the WBCSD Supervisory Board. Its members include leading companies such as Banco Santander , British Telecommunications , Deutsche Bank , Daimler , Bosch , DNV GL , IBM , Infosys , International Flavors & Fragrances , JPMorgan Chase , LafargeHolcim , Sinopec , Royal Dutch Shell , Solvay , Sony , Nokia , Unilever , Toshiba , Toyota and Yara International .

Members undertake to contribute their experience and knowledge to the WBCSD and to support them with the necessary staff. They also have to prepare an environmental report within three years.

An important part of the membership is the personal obligation of the CEOs of the companies to also act as “council members” within the WBCSD and to lead the activities of the internal working groups. These board chairs are influential advocates of the positions of the WBCSD and their support is also intended to ensure that the results of the various activities of the WBCSD have an impact on the operations of member companies.

organization structure

The WBCSD is run by the “Council members” of the member companies. These “council members” elect a supervisory board with a chairman and four deputies. The chairmen were:

  • 1995: Rodney F. Chase - BP
  • 1996-1997: Livio D. DeSimone - 3M
  • 1998-1999: Egil Mykleust - Norsk Hydro
  • 2000-2001: Charles O. Holliday, Jr. - DuPont
  • 2002-2003: Sir Philip Watts KCMG - Royal Dutch Shell
  • 2004-2005: Bertrand Collomb - Lafarge
  • 2006-2007: Travis Engen- Alcan
  • 2008–2009: Sam DiPiazza - PwC
  • 2010–2011: Paul Polman - Unilever
  • 2012-2013: Charles O. Holliday, Jr - Bank of America

Geographical expansion

While most member companies are headquartered in OECD countries, the WBCSD has a strong representation in developing countries through its regional network. This network includes organizations in 60 countries.

In German-speaking countries, the WBCSD is represented in Germany by econsense , in Austria by respACT and in Switzerland by the corporate network Öbu .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Chad Holliday, Stephan Schmidheiny, Philip Watts: Walking the Talk: The Business Case for Sustainable Development . Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2002, ISBN 1-57675-234-8 .
  2. Timm Krägenow: economy pivots on to Bali. In: Financial Times Germany. December 11, 2007, archived from the original on December 12, 2007 ; accessed on September 6, 2013 .
  3. ^ Stephan Schmidheiny: Change of course. Global entrepreneurial prospects for development and the environment . Droemer Knaur, 1993, ISBN 3-426-80007-1 .
  4. ^ World Business Council on Sustainable Development. CorpWatch, June 1, 1997, accessed September 6, 2013 .
  5. Greenpeace / WBCSD: Call for Action. Greenpeace, WBSCD, August 28, 2002, archived from the original March 18, 2012 ; accessed on September 6, 2013 .
  6. ^ Jonathan E. Berman et al .: Race to the Top: Attracting and Enabling Global Sustainable Business . Ed .: World Bank Group. October 2003 ( [PDF]).
  7. GlobeScan (Ed.): The GlobeScan Survey of Sustainability Experts . 2004-2 Highlights Report. December 2004, Most Effective SD Research Organizations -Experts see IISD as being an especially effective organization. The WBCSD, WRI, and SustainAbility also rank highly, S. 9 . , see also IISD Ranked as Most Effective SD Research Organization. (No longer available online.) International Institute for Sustainable Development, February 11, 2005, archived from the original on August 11, 2014 ; accessed on September 6, 2013 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. ^ Wayne Visser: Cambridge Sustainability Research Digest . Ed .: University of Cambridge Program for Industry [CPI]. August 2006 ( ( Memento from April 10, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) [PDF]). Cambridge Sustainability Research Digest ( Memento of the original from April 10, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. Ethisphere (Ed.): 2007's 100 Most Influential in Business Ethics . 2007 ( [PDF]).
  10. ^ About the GHG Protocol. The GHG Protocol, accessed September 6, 2013 .
  11. About - Members. (No longer available online.) WBSCD, archived from the original on August 15, 2013 ; accessed on September 6, 2013 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /