Development and environment closely linked, Annan tells European business forum

Development and environment closely linked, Annan tells European business forum

Stressing that the business community had an important task in ensuring the long-term viability of natural resources and ecosystems, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said that an upcoming UN conference on sustainable development was an opportunity to reinforce the idea that development and environment are inextricably linked.

"One important task at Johannesburg is to show that [sustainable development] is far from being as abstract as it sounds, but rather is a life-or-death issue for millions upon millions of people, and potentially the whole human race," the Secretary-General said in a message to the two-day European Forum for Sustainable Development and Responsible Company Management in Paris.

Mr. Annan was referring to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held from 26 August to 4 September in Johannesburg.

The Secretary-General noted that "green" technologies were an expanding area for business, one in which innovation could flourish and entrepreneurship rewarded.

"Companies that embrace sustainable development can also find their reputations enhanced in the eyes of consumers and the communities in which they operate," he added, noting that for these and many other reasons, sustainability is a key ingredient in the Global Compact, the corporate citizenship initiative he launched three years ago.

"Far from being a burden, sustainable development is an exceptional opportunity - economically, to build markets and create jobs; socially, to bring people in from the margins; and politically, to reduce tensions over resources that could lead to violence and to give every man and woman a voice, and a choice, in deciding their own future," Mr. Annan said in his message, which was delivered to the Forum by Hassan Fodha, Director of the UN Information Centre in Paris.