Reporting In from the Corporate Sustainability Forum at RIO+20

Over the weekend, we participated in the UN Global Compact Corporate Sustainability Forum, the main private sector convening forum at Rio+20. The forum kicked off on Friday with a video message and welcome from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he declared that “corporate sustainability is an idea whose time has come.”

We certainly agree with that statement, which is why Microsoft announced as part of the UN’s Sustainable Energy For All initiative that we are committing to increase our purchase of renewable energy and set specific energy efficiency targets by June 2013, when our fiscal year 2013 comes to an end. Microsoft’s new internal carbon fee will help accelerate our investments in renewable energy, which will include signing long-term renewable power purchase agreements, investing in new renewable energy projects and connecting data centers directly to innovative energy sources, such as methane-powered fuel cells for data centers and other energy-intensive infrastructure.

We see these commitments as a natural extension of the carbon neutrality commitment we made last month. By instituting an internal carbon fee across Microsoft’s operations, every business division at Microsoft will have an incentive to become increasingly efficient and to expand their use of renewable energy, making sustainability part of Microsoft’s bottom line.

In other events at the forum over the weekend, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) launched its Green Industry Platform, which is a global partnership between governmental, business and civil society leaders to secure concrete commitments and mobilize action in support of the Green Industry agenda. UNIDO’s Green Industry Initiative is focused on greening the manufacturing process by using energy and raw materials more efficiently and pioneering innovative practices and applications of new green technologies. I am honored to have been asked to join the Advisory Board for the Green Industry Platform, where I will work with political and business leaders to help achieve a shared vision for bringing the principles of sustainability into manufacturing and industry.

As we get closer to the arrival of more than 100 heads of state at the Rio+20 summit who will convene to discuss solutions to climate change, we hope to see notable progress as governments and private sector commit to working together to define sustainable development goals for the future we want. We’ll share final thoughts later this week as Rio+20 comes to a close.

 

About the Author

Chief Environmental & Cities Strategist, Microsoft