WBCSD FAQ

What is the WBCSD?

The WBCSD is a CEO-led coalition of some 200 international companies in a shared commitment to sustainable development through economic growth, ecological balance and social progress.

What is the WBCSD's mission?

Our mission is to provide business leadership as a catalyst for sustainable development and to support the business license to operate, innovate and grow in a world increasingly shaped by sustainable development issues.

What is the business case for sustainable development?

Pursuing sustainable development makes firms more competitive, more resilient and nimble in a fast-changing world and more likely to win and retain customers. It can also help them find and keep some of the best brains on the market. In addition, it can make them more attractive to investors and insurers, while reducing their exposure to regulatory and other liabilities.

In what types of partnerships does the WBCSD engage?

The Regional Network is an essential asset for the WBCSD, not least because it helps to spread the Council’s messages to every corner of the globe. It involves more than 1,500 business leaders worldwide, whether leading local companies or subsidiaries of multinational corporations, many of which are members of the WBCSD. Two-thirds of regional partners are in the developing world and emerging economies, including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

We also cooperate with numerous other organizations, including the IUCN (The International Union for the Conservation of nature), the World Resources Institute, the World Economic Forum and the International Institute for Sustainable Development(IISD).

Who are the members?

Our member companies are drawn from more than 30 countries and 20 major industrial sectors. Nearly half our members are in the Fortune 500.

How do companies join the organization? What are the criteria for membership?

Membership in the WBCSD is by invitation of the Executive Committee, a board of 14 or so member company CEOs.

Companies are invited to join if they can help advance our work. We seek a shared commitment to sustainable development, together with a geographic and sectoral balance among the membership as a whole. Membership is restricted to business entities only and to the parent company, rather than subsidiaries.

As a CEO-led organization, members are represented at the WBCSD by a Council Member, usually the CEO, chairman or similar. Council Members meet once a year and drive the strategic direction of the WBCSD. They are supported by Liaison Delegates, typically vice presidents or similar, who ensure that the strategy set out by the Council is implemented.

What is the WBCSD’s position on climate policy?

As a global organization, the WBCSD is involved in a number of key processes and dialogues around the world, particularly the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  The WBCSD has been present at the annual Convention of Parties (COP) since 1995 and has a leading business role at COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009.

Climate change can only be resolved through cooperation that includes all elements of society, in particular between governments and business. A new global climate agreement will be essential to establishing the right framework conditions that will deliver long-term, large scale greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions.

Our recommendations are based on the view that it is essential that a new international agreement on climate change is agreed in 2010 to provide a framework for climate legislation and action that offers clarity, predictability and a level-playing field for business.  This should include:

  • A global target (cap) on emissions by 2050 and pathways to get there;
  • Developed country commitments to deep emissions reductions and emissions reduction plans for developing countries;
  • Establishing a framework that provides strong incentives for the development and deployment of the clean technologies that will be necessary to enable the world to move towards a low carbon economy;
  • Policy measures to promote technology innovation and diffusion;
  • A framework to help accelerate clean technology diffusion in developing countries;
  • A signal that the carbon markets will continue beyond 2012, and that a global carbon market with a price on carbon will be established;
  • Adaptation funding
  • Support for reducing emissions for deforestation and forest degradation – REDD.

Tackling climate change requires an integrated approach that addresses the issues of competitiveness and economic sustainability, energy security, the environment and development, as well as adaptive capacity for inevitable climate impacts.

How can business contribute to development?

As an engine of economic growth and employment and a source of  technology and innovation, business has a critical role to play in providing solutions towards a more inclusive, low-carbon and resource-efficient world.

To start with, in the long run, business cannot succeed in societies that fail and therefore has a vested interest in stable and prosperous societies. By developing a better understanding of and proactively addressing socio-economic and environmental concerns, companies will be able to better manage their risks and thereby underpin their license to operate, innovate and grow.

Secondly, developing inclusive business models for doing business with low-income populations will help companies build positions in tomorrow’s growth markets. Companies can do this both through demand- and supply-side innovations that will strengthen their value chains and provide affordable products and services that improve quality of life.

Finally, the transition to a more sustainable world over the next decades will demand major technological and infrastructuralinvestments to support better living standards for the growing populations of developing countries. This represents a major business opportunity for companies and industry sectors that anticipate trends and respond with smart solutions.

The WBCSD, as a leading business organization to advocate market-based solutions to development and environment challenges, believes that the leading companies of the future will be those that align profitable business ventures with the needs of society and thereby contribute to a more sustainable world. In this context, the Development Focus Area’s role is to:

  • Create awareness among business on risks and opportunities in the development context
  • Define the role of business in sustainably addressing key development challenges and advocate business perspectives to policy-makers and other relevant stakeholders
  • Demonstrate leadership by promoting business-led action on the ground
Membership by sector
Membership by region