As described elsewhere in this edition of The Climate Report, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, more commonly referred to as "Rio+20," was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2012. Part of the framework for promoting Rio+20's themes of a green economy and sustainable development included an initiative for increased public–private partnerships and corporate action. For example, more than 400 companies made a commitment at the conference to have zero net deforestation in their supply chains by 2020. Some consider the success in securing these and other commitments from the private sector to be the most significant accomplishment at Rio+20.
Two hundred commitments, mostly related to energy and climate, were also submitted by private businesses to the UN Global Compact, a voluntary initiative designed to stimulate and track corporate commitments. Among those commitments, a Fortune 500 company pledged $50 billion over 10 years to finance energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy infrastructure, lower-carbon transportation, and other activities addressing climate change; two energy companies committed to ensure that 500 million people have access to energy by 2025; and 45 chief executive officers agreed to promote sustainable water management practices. Another Fortune 500 company announced the rollout of an internal carbon fee on its operations in more than 100 countries as part of a plan to be carbon-neutral by 2013. An Italian oil company said it would reduce its flaring of natural gas, and a foreign soft-drink bottler said it would obtain 85 percent of its in-country energy needs from renewable sources.
Rio+20 also revealed an increased interest in corporate sustainability reporting. Five major stock exchanges, including NASDAQ and exchanges in Johannesburg, Egypt, Istanbul, and Brazil, agreed to work through the World Federation of Exchanges to promote corporate sustainability reporting. Jonathan Pershing, Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change for the United States Department of State, predicted that, going forward, private sector engagement in addressing the threat of climate change "will be very active, very significant," as companies work to protect the "enormous funds at stake" in supply chain interruptions from climate change. Sustainable corporate practices (or the lack thereof) are likely to be subject to increasing levels of attention and scrutiny.