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Doing Business with the World - The New Role of Corporate Leadership in Global Development

Geneva, 10 October 2007 - Poverty remains the main challenge facing the countries that will be the home of 85% of the world's population in the decades to come. Some 2.7 billion people worldwide continue to subsist on less than US$2 per day. The challenge facing the global community is to eradicate extreme poverty and to foster economic development that benefits all while preserving natural habitats and biodiversity. Business is a core human activity, and it will be instrumental in bringing about sustainable development.

This new publication ( 3.2 MB) by the WBCSD Development Focus Area shows how companies can contribute to global sustainable development through their core businesses in a way that is profitable for the companies and good for development. It offers a business perspective on key challenges and opportunities for the development of poor countries, as well as key messages for companies and governments on how to promote sustainable business solutions that benefit the poor and the societies and environments in which they live.

The issues selected are not exhaustive, but they reflect both traditional areas for development actors and business. The issues are Ecosystems, Education and Training, Energy, Enterprise Development, Financial Flows, Governance, Health, Mobility, Trade, and Water.

Key messages

The key messages for business and for governments are:

For business:

Given the right conditions, the private sector can improve the lives of people in the low-income segment through direct employment, procurement from local suppliers and delivery of affordable products and services.

Companies can contribute to vocational training and capacity building, invest in energy infrastructure and renewable energy solutions, support healthcare initiatives and education, reduce dependence on scarce raw materials, create new businesses to preserve ecosystems (wetland banking, mitigation credit trading, etc.) and help governments embed good governance, thereby increasing regulatory transparency for business itself.

For governments:

Policies and legislation are required to establish the necessary framework conditions, including financial and taxation legislation, business regulation, and clearly defined ownership and property rights.

Governments need to demonstrate their commitment through investment in core infrastructure, and they can encourage investment and engagement on the part of large corporations by creating a favorable investment climate through regulatory transparency.

For more information, click here.

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Corporate leadership in global development
By Shona Grant

About the Author: Shona Grant

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Shona Grant is the Director of the Development Focus Area at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) based in Geneva. She is responsible for managing a work program aimed at accelerating the business contribution to development, through awareness building of “what is possible”, advocating for improvements in framework conditions, and brokering real and sustainable business opportunities between WBCSD members and other stakeholders. Shona is seconded from BP and joined the WBCSD in November 2005. She joined the Research Division of BP in 1987 and has since held a variety of roles in the Exploration & Production and the Executive Office. Prior to moving to Geneva she was Asset Manager for a portfolio including several offshore production facilities and logistics for their Norwegian operations.
Click here to visit Shona's website.
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