Switzerland has the world’s nineteenth largest economy by nominal GDP and the thirty-sixth largest by purchasing power parity. Credit Suisse Group identified Switzerland as the country with the highest average wealth per adult in 2013. Not to mention the fact, that a regular cheeseburger in Swiss McDonald’s costs twice as much as the same cheeseburger in the same fast food restaurant in the UK. In other words, it is safe to say that Switzerland is a rather wealthy and developed country. Therefore, it would seem rather impractical for an organization, whose aims include economic equality, to have a meeting in a place where economic stability, to some extent, has already been achieved.
WBCSD meetings are not the only conferences on sustainability that are hosted in developed countries. For example, this year International Conference on Sustainable Development is scheduled to be held in New York, the same place where International Institute for Sustainable Development usually hosts its conventions. While the ultimate goals of these organizations involve ending poverty and hunger and reducing inequality among countries, it is really difficult to comprehend the full effect of these problems in places like “the cultural capital of the world”. Therefore, one might enquire: how close to the reality are all of the discussions occurring throughout the events like these?
However, the question, whether these meetings are relevant to contemporary social issues is not the only concern that may arise, if the situation does not change. It is quite evident that conferences like these require fairly large expenses. In most cases, appropriate venue needs to be rented, food needs to be prepared and staff needs to be hired. Additional jobs and investment would arguably have a lot more weight in countries where a shortage of them is presented. Therefore, by hosting the assemblies in economically unstable countries the organizations would already begin to implement the changes that they want to occur, and effectively increase the well-being of the countries’ population. Some might argue that the scale of the contribution would be incredibly small, relative to the scope of the whole problem. However, having these benefits as a by-product of these meetings is arguably better than not having them at all.
The fact that the next WBCSD summit is scheduled to be held in Chennai indicates that the possibility that situation will improve still exists. India has quite a few economic issues, and can provide a source of valuable examples, which can be used throughout the discussion. Moreover, additional investment could be useful in the city that is still recovering from the floods of November 2015. The only question is, if it is a new course for an organization, or is it merely an experiment.
Written by Yury Dmitryuk