Business Commitments for a sustainable development: the value of natural assets


The UN Global Compact’s environment principles are derived from the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development

The three principles are:

Business should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;

Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility, and;

Encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.*

Business commitments

The Global Compact and BASD Business days in the run up to the UN conference also produced summary documents of their discussions.

Key conclusions included:

  • Business has crucial role to play in sustainable development as the primary means of investment and implementation. Business recognizes the need for urgent action to address sustainability challenges and is actively moving forward, with or without formal action at the international level, but urges government to engage with the private sector to address this need. New ways of measuring and rating the performance of both companies and countries are required.
  • Sustainability needs to be integrated into the core of business strategy. New concepts of value and profit need to be created so that the true performance of a company can be reported and assessed.
  • Companies and investors recognize the urgent need to change the parameters for commercial decision making so that the value of natural resources can be better integrated into decisions, and investments directed into long-term sustainable growth paths for businesses. There was broad support for the development of methodologies to allow companies to properly assign economic value in relation to the ecosystems services and natural capital they impact or depend upon. Over 50 countries and over 100 private companies made commitments to begin to factor the value of natural assets like clean air, clean water, forests and other ecosystems into business decision-making and countries systems of national accounting.
  • Integrated reporting, to report a forward-looking performance and strategy, is essential.
  • Voluntary standards will not be enough – smart policy frameworks are needed to scale up the integration, valuation and reporting of sustainability globally
  • At government level, dialogue with business around SDGs is required, to avoid breakdown in actionable targets and projects

Source: The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project

* UN Global Compact