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  • Last week, leaders from government, business and civil society gathered in Rio de Janeiro for a United Nations summit—called “Rio+20” because it is now 20 years since the original Earth Summit in Rio—intended to address the slow pace of change on sustainable development and determine the best path forward.

    At business side events leading up to the event, executives repeated a refrain: We have the science. We have the …

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  • Copyright (c) Unilever

    It looks as though Unilever’s Paul Polman decided to take Rio very seriously and has been an active participant in many events here. If anyone doubts his sincerity, they would just need to hear him talk about how the current market system has failed so many on this planet. He spoke at Rio+20 at an event organised by Avoided Deforestation Partners. APD’s founder, Jeff Horowitz is an amazingly self-deprecating man who has had a major influence on the movement to have forests valued as natural capital and thereby avoid deforestation….

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  • If you’ve been watching any of the news coming out of the Rio+20 Earth Summit, you would not be blamed for thinking that it will ultimately fail. Many have decried the final Rio outcome document as weak and watered down. Several leaders have spoken out against the final version expressing dismay that it does not offer a more ambitious agenda. United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said in his opening remarks to the general assembly earlier this week, “Let me be frank: …

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  • I’ve been in Rio de Janeiro for six days now for the Rio+20 Earth Summit, and something struck me this morning as I entered the last official day of business-focused meetings: We have not asked enough of governments.

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  • The Value of Lunch

    20 Jun 2012Geoff Lye

    There is increasingly talk of partnerships and ‘pre-competitive collaboration’ and this is one bright spot in the corporate landscape that was reinforced by Unilever’s Paul Polman at a High Level (UN speak for ‘you’ll be in good company’) lunch at the Rio+20 Business Day. It was a strange affair.

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  • I have been in Brazil since last Wednesday, participating in the madness that is Rio+20. The insanity is part logistics (the main event sites are scattered far apart and moving from one to the other can take literally hours), and the apparent lack of progress at government level on any meaningful negotiated agreement is certainly maddening, but it is also that the sheer number of people (50,000?) and events (hundreds daily) create a kind of ‘opportunity overload.’

    Midst everything, one of the guidewires I’ve followed has been the activity associated with the release of UNEP’s “Business Case for a Green Economy …

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  • Having pretty much recovered from having my iPhone, iPad and laptop stolen (and having also pretty much recovered from one of the worst bouts of flu in my life), today in Rio was, on balance, a great day. People often ask me whether I am optimistic generally on the sustainability front and I find myself repeating that I wake up an optimist and go to bed a pessimist. And so it looks today.

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  • Written with Dan Hendrix, president & chief executive, Interface, and Chris Coulter, president, GlobeScan.

    One hundred years since the sinking of the Titanic, it is still debated why that fabled and fated ship hit an iceberg and went under. But surely the root cause was the widespread belief that she was unsinkable.

    Twenty years since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro — which did so much to elevate environment and development on the global policy agenda — we fear a similar fate for our planetary ship. …

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  • The World Health Organisation estimates that 30% of prescriptive drugs in circulation in emerging economies are counterfeit. Imagine you live in the developing world, and you depend upon regular medicine to keep you healthy enough to feed your family. There is roughly a one in three chance that each pill you take is at best ineffective, and at worst dangerous. Other than swallow and hope for the best, what can you do? …

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  • In the past few months, certain media articles have left me wondering what impact the mixed economic fortunes of various leading nations will have on sustainability leadership emanating from them.

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  • “You want us to produce one of those corporate socialist reports?!” This incredulous response, from the CEO of a large US conglomerate, may not be the typical reaction that we get from companies (a raised eyebrow is much more common in London), but it does belie a deep-seated misunderstanding about the role and value of sustainability reporting.

    In case you’ve not been watching, sustainability reporting has become a sizeable industry. CorporateRegister.com, a consultancy that monitors the global output of reports every year, estimates that in 2011 there were approximately 6600 reports (including corporate responsibility, sustainability, environmental and other similar reports) – up from less than 1000 ten years ago and …

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