Business Forum «Green and Competitive»

Hosted by ESCAP, CAREC and KBCSD

09.00 – 16.30, 30 September 2010

Palace of Independence, Hall 3

The business community has a strong role to play in green growth and development within Asia and the Pacific. As part of the Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific (MCED-6) to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan, from 27 September to 2 October 2010, the Business Forum “Green and Competitive” will explore the latest developments and innovations for businesses to become more competitive by taking green approaches and will provide a platform for a productive dialogue between industry leaders, business, governments and civil society.

The Business Forum will be co-hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) and the Kazakhstan Business Council for Sustainable Development (KBCSD).

Why Green and Competitive?

There are now many successful examples of businesses generating significant cost reductions by adopting a greener business approach, which has led to positive outcomes for the environment as well as business competitiveness. Accordingly, the private sector has begun to recognize the numerous business opportunities emerging form the shift towards a ‘Green and Competitive’ global economy. Improvements in resource efficiency and environmental performance are now seen as an economic opportunity rather than a cost.

Businesses from a wide range of sectors have engaged in green initiatives using diverse technologies and strategies for improving production systems and products. Those companies that are already focused towards improved resource efficiency and investing in green technology are at the forefront of the emerging business and consumer environment and are likely to be better adapted as government standards and policies for green growth continue to emerge. Asia and the Pacific is reaching the stage whereby companies that remain outside this new paradigm risk a loss of income and competitiveness.

The Business Forum ‘Green and Competitive’ will draw attention to the environmental and economic success possible through green business initiatives. The forum will highlight new technologies, business strategies and organizational changes can that facilitate and accelerate the shift towards greener businesses in the region.

The ‘Astana Green Bridge Initiative’ will be one of the key focuses of the Forum. Kazakhstan has developed this initiative to join Europe and the Asia Pacific regions in the exchange of innovative green technology and best practices. The Initiative aims to accelerate innovation and further demonstrate the gains for business competitiveness that can arise from environmental sustainability.

At the III Astana Economic Forum (1-2 July 2010, Astana, Kazakhstan), HE Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan, pointed out that ‘the world needs new environmentally safe technologies and faster exchange of it as well as wider use of renewable energy’ and has announced that the second most important priority for the country would be to ensure its environmental sustainability. The business community has a unique opportunity to be ahead of the upcoming major policy changes and respond to this new and fast-growing demand.

Green and Competitive at the MCED-6

The ‘Green and Competitive’ theme will feature at a number of events at the Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development, Astana, 2010. These events will provide further insights into the successful implementation of a green and competitive business strategy. Participants from the business community are particularly encouraged to attend the following events:

Side Events

  • Financing of energy efficiency and renewable energy in the framework of the International Energy Efficiency Forum
  • Public and private partnerships to finance energy efficiency in Kazakhstan
  • Payments for ecosystem services as a tool for Green Growth

Exhibitions

The exhibition hall will host numerous stands illustrating best practices and innovative technological solutions for businesses aiming to increase profits while saving environmental resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The exhibition hall will be open for the duration of the Conference and participants are welcome to attend exhibits at any time during the MCED-6.

Business Forum Green and Competitive – tentative program outline

The Business Forum will draw together diverse members of the business community and will feature key speakers from business, government and the international community. Each session features presentations from selected experts and an invited chair to facilitate discussion.

Opening Address: Regional Outlook for the greening of economic growth

09.00 — 9.30

  • Н.Е. Nurgali Ashimov
    Minister of Environmental Protection of the Republic of Kazakhstan
  • Rae Kwon Chung
    Director of the Environment and Development Division, UN ESCAP
  • Director of KBCSD or Director of the Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Session 1: Cost-efficient and profitable: successful examples of green and competitive business

09.30 – 11.15

Chair and 5-6 Speakers

The business community in Asia and the Pacific has already seen success in shifting towards a greener business approach. This session will present examples of key companies who have gained greater competitiveness and profitability through green technologies and practices. Business leaders and innovators will share their insights and experience in the shift to green business and demonstrate the cost reductions, improved competitiveness and overall economic success that can accompany better environmental outcomes. The session will highlight many opportunities for sustainable and successful business in Asia and the Pacific.

Long term business success is often gained through investment in natural and human capital. Such investments work to increase resource productivity, improve long term sustainability and decouple economic development from environmental degradation. For businesses, there are benefits in terms of improved productivity, reduced energy and material costs, increased environmental stewardship, improved corporate social responsibility, and higher profit. The benefits of business investments that stimulate natural capital and human capital will be discussed in this session.

11.15 – 11.30: Coffee Break

Session 2: Financial mechanisms to overcome the up-front green investments costs

11.30 – 13.15

Chair and 5-6 Speakers

One of the major issues companies face when they decide to make green investments is a lack of funds to cover the up-front costs. In many countries, the banking sector is still reluctant to provide green investments and loans as little experience has been developed in evaluating returns on resource efficient technologies. Small and medium companies (SMEs) and start-ups also face the challenge of insufficient equity and credit history to qualify for commercial loans. To address these issues, international institutions, governments and the private sector have developed various financial support mechanisms for big business as well as SMEs. Public sector grants and low interest rate revolving funds can partially address the issue, however to tackle improvements on a large scale, governments and international organizations need to facilitate a broader set of financial mechanisms including commercial and profit based equity and mezzanine investment funds, preferential rate loans through dedicated credit lines and Energy Service Companies (ESCO) schemes. This session will present key mechanisms available in the region and discuss successful practices for financing green investments.

Session 3: Government as the driver for greening of business: regulations, incentives, investments

14.15 – 16.00

Chair and 5-6 Speakers

Green and Competitive business in Asia and the Pacific is a shared objective of business, governments and civil society. Governments play a major role in accelerating green business development, particularly where businesses are restrained or discouraged by uncertainty regarding the policy environment or up-front investment costs. This session will provide an insight into current and emerging government initiatives to support businesses in the switch to green growth. Future prospects and progress towards an integrated Asia and the Pacific business community with consistent green objectives, regulatory frameworks and certification that facilitate green trade and competitiveness will be discussed.

Limited resource availability is a constraint to both economic and social development. There is a need for government policies and reforms that create further incentives for the greening of business and society to improve natural resource use and environmental sustainability. Regulatory reform in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, water sanitation and waste management are key examples where government policy can provide a valuable incentive for a green business approach. Many governments have well-developed standards and requirements for the business community with regards to green production systems and products. This session will highlight motivations for the business community to anticipate and embrace these policy initiatives as an opportunity for reducing costs, lifting performance, improving sustainability and meeting growing consumer appetite for greener goods and services.

13.15 – 14.15: Lunch break

Preparation of conclusions and recommendations to the Ministerial Round Table

16.00-16.30

The Business Forum will conclude with developing a summary of main outcomes and recommendations that will be presented to Ministers attending the MCED-6 and communicated at the Ministerial Round Table.

In this respect, participants are invited to comment on issues related to the business sector described in relevant sections of three outcome documents to be adopted by the Ministers:

-  the Astana Ministerial Declaration on the status of environment and development, including regional commitments and actions;

-  the Regional Implementation Plan for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific for 2011—2015, which will serve as a road map to the region; and

-  the Astana Green Bridge Initiative, fostering cooperation between Europe and Asia Pacific to strengthen sustainable development.