The Earth truly is an extraordinary place. Its beauty really makes you think, how could anyone be apathetic about its destruction? How are we willing to damage our environment with such ease? Being in Montreux made me realize how breathtaking a place can be if only we would take the slightest care of it, if only we would be respectful.
I now also realize why this is the perfect place for the WBCSD Liaison Delegates meeting to take place. Taking the time to walk from our hostel to the conference centre this morning, proved to be a great decision. What we were faced with once we exited the hostel at 7:30 am was absolutely beautiful. The snowy mountain tops, the colourful flowers surrounding you, their sweet scent following your every step, all the different colours of the sky were just some of the elements adding to this majestic scenery. And in the middle of it all, a large crystal clear lake, full of ducks and swans, reflecting all of the colours around it. Inviting us to make our own reflections. Witnessing such beauty, while staring in awe I decided it was time to lay down my own thoughts and expectations of this trip.
Sustainability is a topic I am very interested in, especially when it comes to sustainable development in business. I strongly believe that business can definitely be a drive for good. However, with that being said, I am not entirely confident that business will be a drive for good. I am not convinced it wants to. On one hand, it is true that more and more companies are taking action to promote sustainable practices. The WBCSD is a bright example of the effort being put into moving towards a more sustainable world, setting goals and striving to achieve them. On the other hand, I am particularly curious about how a company would react to the profitability issues that could arise. Would they be willing to sacrifice profits to engage in green practices? It is clear that a turn in sustainability can be hard and costly, as large investments are needed in infrastructure and technology, the establishment of clear direction is essential and time is only running against us.
So, how many businesses are in fact willing to lose money in order to support Sustainable Development? In my mind, this can be rephrased to “how many businesses want to build a sustainable future, and invest in a better world even though they may lose money in the short term?” The costs will be high, but it is crucial that we make this investment as the long term benefits will be a lot greater than the short term loss. After all, as the ancient proverb goes, we do not own this Earth we are just borrowing it from future generations. Therefore, it is our responsibility to make sure we deliver an environment in where everyone can prosper.
All in all, after reflecting upon these topics and setting out my expectations of the next few days, I am looking forward to hearing the discussions of the WBCSD and hopefully getting answers to some of my questions.
Written by: Dafni Papaioannou