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"Sustainable Development" and the WBCSD
(World Business Council for Sustainable Development)

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[This comment was meant to appear in Mr. Stigson's blog .]
Dear Mr Stigson,

I would kindly invite you to have a look outside of the WBSCD's Vision (2050) .
You will then see that:

1. We have overshot the earth's carrying capacity by far - by overpopulation and overconsumption,
2. Technology, Money, Hope, and Optimism cannot recreate lost resources and destroyed nature, or handle climate change,
3. Our modern world is one hundred percent dependent on oil,
4. There is no replacement for oil, neither qualitatively nor quantitatively,
5. So-called "sustainable fuels" are totally subsidized by fossil energies,
6. Overshoot is a result of too much energy; alternative energies would only continue the race to the bottom of a depleted planet and the end of mankind,
7. We are at Peak-Oil and decline is imminent, which will trigger the end of modernity and globalisation, probably with civil unrest, and wars over the last resources,
8.The only logical response to overshoot is stopping growth and starting contraction, relocalisation, demechanisation, slowing down, restructuring, and the elimination of numerous superfluous activities and products.

I know, Mr Stigson, that Business has a host of "answers" and business "solutions", most of which however will not stand up to factual science, I fear.

I would kindly invite you for a discussion, maybe with a cool beer on the lake-side, at parc des anglais, thus renewing our acquaintance from 1999 in Wellington.

You are also kindly invited to join list and learn what vision others have on the next few years, rather than the elusive 2050.

Hope to talk to you soon!

Kind regards ... Helmut Lubbers

We first met Mr Stigson in New Zealand in 1998. Mr Stigson is full of good intentions. Yet he's thinking within the paradigm box of progress, technology and optimism as ways to deal with the future.

But we are living in a horrible "Overshoot" situation of too many people consuming too much resources.

We don't have the time nor the resources to continue working and growing along the usual lines, with a few corrective measures on the sidelines.

Mr Stigson's World Business Council for Sustainable Development counts some 200 (large multinational) companies, that are all committed to growth and profit maximisation.

Sustainable development, however, forbids growth. "Green" or "immaterialised" or other "sustainable" growths are dangerous illusions, only making us believe we could carry on.

So, factually, the WBCSD can be seen as a feel-good organisation for the management of its member companies.

We need radical changes, such as:
  • abolish the growth paradigm and start contracting the economics activity
  • restructure and relocalise, so that we can again work where we live
  • slow down because the higher the speed the more energy and resouirces are needed
  • demechanize because many activities do not need gadgets
  • ban a host of superfluous and harmful products and activities
  • redistribute resources to areas that require an upgrade to humane living conditions

  • human impact equation I = P x A x T .
  • Netimpact conference
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    Mr Stigson's Blog

    Can society still afford to focus on sustainable development?

    My view is that now is precisely the time it should be. Right now it should be clear to everyone that we cannot go on as we have been.

    What we have now is a rare chance to re-shape our world. I believe that we are living in a moment of history, that all around us a new industrial revolution is beginning.

    This will be the “lean, mean, clean” revolution. It will be clean because we know we cannot go on polluting as we have been and maintain functioning ecosystems; it will be lean because a growing population and the need to alleviate poverty will leave us with a resource-constrained world with higher prices for food, oil and gas; and it will be mean because the transformation this revolution will bring will create winners and losers. It is true that for some countries and some businesses there will be difficulties ahead as economic recession bites. The same is true for individuals, some of whom will struggle after they lose their jobs. We should not lose sight of this.

    But even in the face of these challenges there will be opportunities. We need to seize the moment and make the most of these. Our new industrial revolution depends on it.

    The stimulus packages that are being discussed and put in place in different parts of the world have triggered a debate about what all this money should be used for.

    Just how do we build a more sustainable society with lower energy and resource use? How do we create the green jobs that will be needed to deliver these solutions? And how do we create a societal infrastructure that will be more resilient to the challenges of climate change and its impacts on our food and water supplies?

    The amount of investment needed for energy, urban infrastructure, water, transport and food supply, to mention a few, will be tremendous. We cannot allow these investments to lock us into an unsustainable future.

    The infrastructure we invest in today will be with us a long time, often 50 years or more. It is vital that governments remember this when designing their stimulus packages. They need to look forward to the low-carbon economy of the future and focus on investments in new energy systems, transport solutions, energy-efficient buildings and water and urban infrastructure. Making the right decisions now will spur new industries, create green jobs, change our lives and secure our future.

    We need to be thinking across the board, and outside of the usual constraints. With vision, foresight and planning we will re-shape our world. Imagine, for instance, a life in the future, where our homes and industries are powered by low-carbon energy, where transport runs on clean fuels, where even the poorest people have easy access to clean water, where our buildings and household appliances consume less energy, and where workers equipped with new, “green” skills are employed in the abundant jobs these new industries create.

    We can design this better world, but we will not do it by thinking in silos and within narrow national borders. We need a global view, not business as usual. And we need to understand that the economic recession has given us a small window of opportunity for transformation. We must take advantage of it. Future generations will not thank us if we fail.

    Posted on March 17, 2009 at 09:52 AM | Permalink TrackBack TrackBack URL for this entry:
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    Congratulations for this "Lean, mean and clean" article!
    Lean because it is focused on the essencial: the urge to make the right social/political decisions which can make business deliver long-term results;
    Mean because it doesn't hide the fact that some will become loosers;
    Clean because it states "green revolution" as a global need, using economy and business as its developers and the states as its drivers.
    Great article! I will certainly refer to it.
    Posted by: Paulo Silva Curto | March 17, 2009 at 10:26 AM
    Indeed a great post, but i find that information isn`t entirely true or accurate, but that's just my humble opinion. Money still makes the world go round
    Posted by: World After 2012 | March 29, 2009 at 04:21 PM
    Great article, thanks.
    I believe we can still focus on sustainable growth. For example, have you seen how Newcastle in England has an improving economy and is now Britain's most Sustainable City:
    Posted by: Michael O'Hare | November 27, 2009 at 09:12 PM
    It is evident that we must make substantial changes to avoid further damages in the eco system. The hard question is what will be the driving forces for us to make thoose changes ? Since most is money driven this should be a high priority. In the long run sustainability is a must. Probably there is a "learning curve", reality check and then hopefully a change to a sustainable society.
    Posted by: Bjoern U Syren | January 11, 2010 at 10:06 AM
    This copy from Mr Stigson's blog has been reproduced for ecological, not-for-profit purposes only, 11 July 2010.
    ecoglobe comments

    Part of a discussion on the great change list:

    Mary just sent a post on "Population growth - a Ponzi scheme?", from which I quote:

    "While it may come in many guises, Ponzi demography is essentially a pyramid scheme that attempts to make more money for some by adding on more and more people through population growth.

    While more visible in industrialized economies, particularly in Australia, Canada and the United States, Ponzi demography also operates in developing countries. The underlying strategy of Ponzi demography is to privatize the profits and socialize the costs incurred from increased population growth. (By Joseph Chamie Center for Migration Studies, NY, Thursday, March 04, 2010)"

    This is exactly what this WBCSD says hooray to in their 2050 Vision report: More people means more business. Reminders:
    - SD stands for Sustainable Development, which logically forbids growth, on an overloaded and finite planet.
    - WBC stands for World Business Council, being part and parcel of the Compact of Business, Politics and the discipline of Economics, those people who live in Flatland, where the sky is the limit and resources are endless - dematerialized green, of course.
    - The WBCSD's 200 member companies virtually all believe in and push for maximum growth (see member list further down). Yet the mission of the WBCSD is to "to provide business leadership as a catalyst for change toward sustainable development" at the same time wanting to grow.

    One list participant said, these people are insane. Indeed it looks like it.

    Yet I don't know for sure. On a one to one basis one can talk but they are seriously infected by this growth virus and they firmly believe in the Good Lord to recreate extinct species, repair a spoiled climate and replenish nonrenewable resource stocks by intelligence, money and technology.

    Most probably they are just as afraid as everbody else to admit the horrible truth of overshoot and endless inertia which make any stopping and turn-around impossible. Deep in their hearts they must know, and some of them may have these chills of fright in the middle of the night, when they can't sleep, after one more of these pieces of bad environmental news during the day, all a result of growth and greed (compare the list of member companies further down).

    Maybe we should make a proposal to those APA psychiatrists who are working on a revision of the DSM-5 manual, to include growthmania is as another psychiatric illness - good for growth of the pharmaceutical industry ( ).

    Possibly they are not insane. But their analytical and eco-logical intelligence is definitively seriously underdeveloped, the courage to admit the earth is finite and growth is the Royal Road to total depletion and ensuing catastrophe are absent. The after-peak-oil era is at our doorsteps and then the decline will start, boosted by growthmania and resulting in final resource wars.

    Ultimately we'll all, rich and poor, the leaders and the missled underlings, meet and gather again in the heaven of exinct species.

    Cheers ... Helmut
    back WTO, ICTSD, WEF; WBCBAU page list top

    [part copy from the WBCSD's report]

    The Vision 2050 report ( 2.6 MB) lays out a pathway leading to a global population of some 9 billion people living well, within the resource limits of the planet by 2050. This work results from an 18-month combined effort with CEOs and experts, and dialogues with over 200 companies and external stakeholders in some 20 countries.

    The report presents new opportunities for business in a broad range of business segments with the foresight to lead their societies on a sustainable business development agenda.

    Vision 2050 spells out the “must haves” – the things that must happen over the coming decade to make a sustainable planetary society possible. These include incorporating the costs of externalities, starting with carbon, ecosystem services and water, into the structure of the marketplace; doubling agricultural output without increasing the amount of land or water used ; halting deforestation and increasing yields from planted forests: halving carbon emissions worldwide (based on 2005 levels) by 2050 through a shift to low-carbon energy systems and improved demand-side energy efficiency, and providing universal access to low-carbon mobility.

    As part of this transformation, Vision 2050 calls for a new agenda for business: to work with government and society worldwide to transform markets and competition. New rules for markets will reframe environmental challenges as economic challenges, driving innovation and competition in the direction of sustainability and away from resource- and energy-intensive production. Rationalizing prices to include such externalities as climate and biodiversity impacts will make corporate environmental efficiency a true competitive advantage across all industries and regions.

    Business will lead market change by doing what business does best: forming partnerships, creating efficiencies and competitive advantage, seizing opportunities and meeting customer needs. At the same time, a shift toward sustainability will trigger trillions of dollars in new investments in infrastructure, technology and human services, creating new opportunities for business to thrive and grow.

    Vision 2050, with its best-case scenario for sustainability and pathways for reaching it, is a tool for thought leadership, a platform for beginning the dialogue that must take place to navigate the challenging years to come.
    <<< copied from Mathis Wackernagel's Footprintnetwork newsletter 3 March 2010:
    Business Leaders Present Their Vision for a Sustainable Economy

    The world has the resources to allow 9 billion people to live well within the means of one planet – but achieving this goal will require radical transformations to world markets, governance and our very notions of growth and progress. Such is the conclusion of Vision 2050: the New Agenda for Business, an effort by some of the world’s most influential companies to lay out a pathway for achieving a sustainable world by 2050.

    The report suggests that greater sustainability and resource-efficiency will, increasingly, become a precondition for corporate success. “Sustainability will become a key driver for all our investment decisions, said Idar Kreutzer, CEO of Storebrand, a leading Norwegian financial group.

    Led by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the Vision 2050 project – aimed at identifying both the scope of ecological challenges the corporate sector will face in the coming years as well as related opportunities – involved the participation of companies such as Boeing, Syngenta, Weyerhauser, Procter & Gamble, Alcoa, Duke Energy, Toyota and Volkswagen. Global Footprint Network participated in Vision 2050 by creating a scenario calculator that helped leaders run the numbers on various ecological scenarios and solutions.

    <<< Copied from the WBCSD Vision 2050 report (executive summary)

    In 2050, around 9 billion people live well, and within the limits of the planet

    Just 40 years from now, some 30% more people will be living on this planet. For business, the good news is that this growth will deliver billions of new consumers who want homes and cars and television sets.

    The bad news is that shrinking resources and potentially changing climates will limit the ability of all 9 billion of us to attain or maintain the consumptive lifestyle that is commensurate with wealth in today’s affluent markets.

    In the WBCSD’s Vision 2050 Project, 29 global companies representing 14 industries tackled this dilemma. They developed a vision, based on dialogues in 20 countries with several hundred companies as well as experts, of a world on-track toward sustainability by 2050. This will be a world in which the global population is not just living on the planet, but living well and within the limits of the planet. By “living well”, we are describing a standard of living where people have access to and the ability to afford education, healthcare, mobility, the basics of food, water, energy and shelter, and consumer goods.

    By “living within the limits of the planet”, we mean living in such a way that this standard of living can be sustained with the available natural resources and without further harm to biodiversity, climate and other ecosystems.

    At first this Vision may read like a utopian ideal, considering how far it seems to be from the world of today.

    But that is neither the intention of this report, nor the reality. With or without Vision 2050, life in 2050 will be radically different for all of us. Vision 2050 is the best available star to steer by today, based on the observations, projections and expectations of the companies and experts who contributed to this effort. This guiding star is an attempt to help leaders across governments, businesses and civil society avoid repeating mistakes of the past – making decisions in isolation that result in unintended consequences for people, the environment and planet Earth. Vision 2050 seeks to provide a common understanding so leaders can make the decisions that deliver the best outcomes possible for human development over the next four decades.

    It is also a platform for ongoing dialogue, so we can continue to raise the important questions we must answer in order to make progress in this uncharted territory.

    Attaining the Vision:

    The pathway

    A pathway was developed and nine elements of this pathway detailed to connect this sustainable future with the present. The goal was to see what a real, global attempt at sustainable development – with all the radical policy and lifestyle changes this would entail – would mean for business and markets in general and for the individual participating sectors.

    The elements of the pathway demonstrate that behavior change and social innovation are as crucial as better solutions and technological innovation. All types of ingenuity will be needed over the next 40 years.

    Although distinct, the elements also show the interconnectedness of issues such as water, food and energy – relationships that must be considered in an integrated and holistic way, with tradeoffs that must be understood and addressed.

    The critical pathway includes:

    • Addressing the development needs of billions of people, enabling education and economic empowerment, particularly of women, and developing radically more eco-efficient solutions, lifestyles and behavior

    • Incorporating the cost of externalities, starting with carbon, ecosystem services and water

    • Doubling of agricultural output without increasing the amount of land or water used

    • Halting deforestation and increasing yields from planted forests

    • Halving carbon emissions worldwide (based on 2005 levels) by 2050, with greenhouse gas emissions peaking around 2020 through a shift to low-carbon energy systems and highly improved demand-side energy efficiency

    • Providing universal access to low carbon mobility

    • Delivering a four-to-tenfold improvement in the use of resources and materials

    Reference:WBSCD's Vision 2050: The new agenda for business - full report
    <<< === >>>
    <<< WBCSD Members, as per 15.3.2010 ( )>>>
    WBCSD member companies
    (Click here for a list of Regional Network partners) 
    Africa South Africa ESKOM Mondi
    Asia China Baosteel Group Corporation China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company, (COSCO) China Petrochemical Corporation (SINOPEC) Chinese Taipei Chinese Petroleum Corporation Chunghwa Telecom Hong Kong, China CLP India Infosys Reliance Industries Indonesia Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Ltd (APRIL) Japan Asahi Glass Bridgestone Corporation Canon Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc Denso Corporation Hitachi Chemical Honda Motor Kansai Electric Kikkoman Mitsubishi Chemical Holding Corporation Mitsubishi Corporation Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corporation Nissan Motor Osaka Gas Seiko Holdings Corporation Sompo Japan Insurance Sony Sumitomo Chemicals Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd. Taiheiyo Cement Tokyo Electric Power Company Toyo Tire & Rubber Co., Ltd Toyota Motor The Yokohama Rubber Company Pakistan Pakistan State Oil Company Saudi Arabia Abdul Latif Jameel Group South Korea GS Caltex Corporation Hankook Tire Co., Ltd KUMHO Tire Co., Inc. POSCO Samsung Electronics Thailand PTT Public Company Limited Siam Cement Group (SCG) Europe Austria Borealis Swarovski Belgium Umicore Denmark Grundfos Novo Nordisk Novozymes Vestas Wind Systems A/S Finland Fortum Kone Metsäliitto Group Nokia Stora Enso France Alstom AREVA Dassault Systèmes S.A. EDF Group GDFSuez Havas L'Oréal Lafarge Michelin Veolia Environnement Germany adidas AG Allianz BASF Bayer Continental AG Deutsche Bank Deutsche Post DHL E.ON Evonik HeidelbergCement Henkel Robert Bosch GmbH Siemens Volkswagen Greece PPC S.A. Titan Cement Ireland CRH EcoSecurities Italy Eni S.p.A. Italcementi Group Pirelli & Co., S.p.A. Luxemburg ArcelorMittal The Netherlands Akzo Nobel DSM N.V. KPMG Royal Dutch Shell plc. Royal Philips Electronics TNT N.V. Unilever Norway Det Norske Veritas DnB NOR Grieg International Leif Höegh Norsk Hydro Statkraft AS Statoil Storebrand Portugal Brisa CIMPOR EDP - Electricidade de Portugal, S.A. Portucel Soporcel Group Sonae Romania Energy Holding Russia Basic Element JSC Gazprom Spain ACCIONA Repsol YPF Sweden Skanska Vattenfall AB Switzerland ABB F. Hoffmann-La Roche Holcim Novartis SGS Société Générale de Surveillance Holding Syngenta Turkey Borusan Holdings Eczacibasi Holding United Kingdom Anglo American BG Group BP Environmental Resources Management Group PA Consulting Group Rio Tinto Vodafone Group Latin America Brazil Abril Group Cimentos Liz Fibria Natura Cosméticos S.A. Petrobras Suzano Papel e Celulose Vale Chile Codelco GrupoNueva Mexico CEMEX Panama Panamá Canal Authority North America Canada BC Hydro Suncor Energy USA 3M Accenture AECOM Alcoa American Electric Power Boeing Caterpillar CH2M HILL Chevron Corporation ConocoPhillips Cooper Tire & Rubber Company Constellation Energy Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Dow Chemical Duke Energy DuPont Entergy Corporation Ernst & Young Exelon General Electric Greif IBM ITT Industries Johnson & Johnson Kimberly-Clark Corporation MeadWestvaco Oracle PepsiCo PricewaterhouseCoopers Procter & Gamble S.C. Johnson & Son SunGard The Boston Consulting Group The Coca-Cola Company The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company United Technologies Corporation Weyerhaeuser Oceania Australia BHP Billiton Commonwealth Bank Group GHD Insurance Australia Group Lend Lease Woodside Energy New Zealand The Warehouse Group <<< end of WBCSD member list >>>