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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told journalists that the agenda was urgent and far-reaching. He praised member states for their commitment, but still you sensed that even he wasn’t convinced there had been much of a breakthrough.
“I know that some member states… more ambitious outcome document. Negotiatons very difficult and very slow because of interest and ideas.”
Across town in the heart of historic Rio, thousands of people gathered to call for change, objecting to what they see as business as usual.
Historically NGOs and companies haven’t been big buddies but in some cases, that’s beginning to change. Companies are playing a key role in the push towards a sustainable economy – motivated by a combination of self-interest and concern.
Urs Näf is responsible for energy and environmental policy at industry association, Economiesuisse.
“Well it’s always a mixture because these companies are in a position where they have to sell something and to find customers. So image is always a big issue of course. But, on the other hand, if you can produce more efficiently then you save money at the same time.”
Näf cites the example of the Swiss machinery and electricity industry. It has upped energy efficiency by 30% while and at the same time, raising overall production by a hundred percent.
So while concrete results from the official conference look a little spartan, businesses are forging ahead to try and find answers to the challenges. On Wednesday, top businessmen like Richard Branson told an audience here in Rio that doing good was more profitable than concentrating purely on the bottom line.