Business Sector and Sustainability

Davos, Switzerland

Erik Solheim, Head of UNEP (and a fellow Norwegian), posted this comment, together with a winter-wonderland photo, from the ongoing World Economic Forumm (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on his Facebook profile on 18 January 2017:

Business and political leaders from around the world are here in Davos this week. I've seen many positive signs that sustainability is being worked into the economy more and more. Still a long way to go but so encouraging!

My Response

A very positive message! Allow me to observe, though, that identical messages in tenor if not in language appear in connection with all international meetings that address climate change (and I've participated in a few of them).

Possibly more constructive things have come out on the fringes of WEF 2017, as voiced by participants. This includes whether this annual event may have become too mature and too well established. That is, it continues to cater primarily to the business sector, global politicians and celebrities, together with those that want to hobnob with them, while the efforts to make the private sector more sustainable continues to be ever encouraging. Against this it might be argued that this is akin to a receding sustainability goal, and that we cannot wait until this receding goal has been met. We do not any longer have the luxury of adopting Emperor Augustus' motto "Festina Lente."

In this situation the question has been put forward if it is time to define alternative, more inclusive, more transparent, and broader fora to discuss global sustainability. Fora that may be better able to define and address the mutually dependent roles of the business sector and society, with a focus on creating viable solutions.

Lars T Soeftestad

(1) An earlier version of this comment was posted on UNEP's Facebook page on 18 January 2017, in response to the above comment by Erik Solheim (see Source).
(2) Erik Solheim's comment was reposted from his own Facebook page, at:, where it also appeared on 18 January 2017.
(3) Photo credit: see UNEP's Facebook page.
(4) Permalink. URL:
(5) This article was published 19 January 2017. It was revised 9 September 2018.

UNEP, Facebook page at:

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