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Christensen Global Strategies
Information
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Submission Document: Download
  • Additional Document:

Proposed:

Perhaps the greatest need and opportunity at Rio+20 is to begin redirection of capital at scale for sustainable human well-being and restoration of natural systems through adoption of: revised national accounting metrics; new corporate balance sheet standards; and, amended supporting regulations. This proposal asserts that the official declaration produced at Rio+20 should recognize the need to adjust accounting systems to value human well-being. Because business balance sheets are equally in need of change, this issue is already part of the agenda at the World Green Summit, a private sector gathering that Christensen Global Strategies is convening with World Climate Limited parallel to the Rio+20 official meeting. However, conversation among business and government leaders is essential to driving change, therefore we propose to organize an additional conversation with business-government leaders as either a side event or an official government event facilitating conversation and collaboration leading to adjustments in national accounting metrics, balance sheets, and the regulatory frameworks supporting them (e.g. financial disclosure, accounting standards). Thank you for your consideration of this important topic.

Introduction

The Need For A New Capitalist Model

Nations first began quantifying national accounts as a measure of economic health nearly seventy years ago. In that time, Gross Domestic Product became the definitive measure of a nations well being. With its emphasis on short-term profits however, GDP captures an overly narrow picture of national health and progress; it utterly fails to measure what we truly value ? human well-being.

The economists who developed national account measurements never considered natural resource depletion ? natural resources were limitless in their 19th century world. It also never occurred to them that many ecological systems conferred great economic values that should be included in GDP measurements and on corporate balance sheets. Yet, such considerations are imperative in todayʼs world as we watch population increase exponentially, resources dwindle or degrade in quality, and nations jockey for first place in efficiency, sustainability, and innovation. The assessment tools used by almost all nations fail to measure these factors.

This disconnect between outdated metrics and modern-day threats to a stable planet must be fixed. Its exaggerated emphasis on short-term profits skews our capitalist system toward unsustainable practices. Re-aligning the power of capital markets to promote human wellbeing requires that we encourage four essential actions: investing for the long-term; internalizing externalities; valuing nature; and adopting qualitative metrics for measuring growth.

Progress on New Metrics in Support of Capitalism for the 21st Century

A movement is building among business and government leaders to change how we measure well being and Rio+20 should support and encourage this transformation so that capital will be redirected at scale to create healthier societies and more resilient natural systems. Among businesses, leaders such as Google are pricing carbon on their balance sheets or like Puma calculating their externality costs for water and carbon with the first-ever environmental profit and loss statement (P&L). Dow Chemical and The Nature Conservancy are working to value nature on Dowʼs balance sheet, and Generation Investment rewards its investment teams for the long-term performance of their portfolios. Bhutan leads government innovators with its Gross National Happiness index that measures the quality of its peopleʼs lives. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is working with governments on revised GDP metrics that measure well-being. All of these signal positive shifts toward a new capitalism ? Rio+20 can and should be a powerful platform for accelerating the trend.

The Private & Public Sector At Rio+20: Mobilizing Leadership

We propose and are ready to support the implementation of:

? An event in support of Rio+20 including business and government leaders engaging in a complementary conversation about the future of valuing natural resources and human well being; and

? Inclusion in the governmental declaration recognition of the need to adjust governmental metrics and value natural resources so as to better support human well-being.
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