Munich, February 20th, 2012: SusCon – the International Conference on Sustainable Business and Consumption – will be taking place in the UN City of Bonn this year, the same year as the Rio +20 Conference. The central focal point of this business conference will be the same core issues to be discussed at the UN Earth Summit in Brazil, i.e. the development of a “greener” economy.
SusCon 2012 will deal with the outcomes of Agenda 21 and will provide
the opportunity to discuss practical approaches to achieving solutions. Collective
action among all levels and groups of society is essential; companies are
neither entirely responsible for the global crises, nor are they able to create
a more sustainable global economy on their own.
Green Economy – From intention to action
How can the economy and consumer demand be redesigned in light of increasing scarcity of resources and a world population predicted to hit 8 billion in 2025? The predominant model of a free market economy provides no answer to this question and the market alone cannot solve such global threats. National governments and international organizations have shown themselves too weak and too slow to adapt or implement the necessary measures to cope with the scarcity of raw materials. Although technological advances have helped, their influence is far outweighed by the increasing use of resources (rebound effect).
Nonetheless, a growing number of consumers are increasingly reaching for “green” or “fair trade products”. The concept of “responsible consumption”, however, has until now, only reached a minority of consumers. How can a sustainable model be similarly spurred into action, and how can consumers be persuaded to demand for this model. Consumer Social Responsibility must be an accepted concept as the entrepreneurial Corporate Social Responsibility has become. One thing is clear, growth and prosperity – as has been experienced in the Western world since the industrial revolution – can no longer be granted to all people in the same way. The world economy is facing radical change and many areas of tension must now be considered.
Business, but differently: “Change Business & Change Agents”
The central theme of SusCon is the role of business within the model of sustainable development. To achieve this, not only must businesses be fashioned differently; they must also adopt a decisive role as “the agent for change”. At this international conference the question of how a future “green economy” might look will be discussed. Examples of various value chains especially associated with water, food, textiles, wood and paper products will be considered, viewing the entire life cycle of the chosen products. In collaboration with partners such as FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council), IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agricultures Movements), UNEP/Wuppertal Institute Collaborating Center On Sustainable Consumption and Production, and UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), Best Practices and concrete models for problem-solving will be presented at SusCon 2012.
In addition to business representatives, several experts will be speaking and participating in the discussions. These include Dr Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker (Factor Five: Transforming the Global Economy through 80% Improvements in Resource Productivity), high ranking UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme) representatives, Dr Vandana Shiva, the winner of the Right Livelihood Award, and Helmy Abouleish, the Managing Director of the Egyptian-based organic company Sekem.
The mayor of the City of Bonn, Jürgen Nimptsch, also has high expectations of the Conference: “After Rio +20, viable solutions are expected. We are pleased that SusCon is taking place here in Bonn, in a setting in which UN representatives, government officials, scientists, representatives from certification organizations, businesses and civil society can quickly come together and where the dialogue for sustainability is firmly anchored. A foreign delegate once named this field of force the “Bonn-Spirit”. I am confident that this is the ideal fertile soil for the successful implementation of the theme of the Conference “from intention to action.”