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World Business Council for Sustainable Development Tightens Membership Rules

World Business Council for Sustainable Development Tightens Membership Rules
28 October 2020

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, together with its more than 200 global leading member companies, is putting forward a new set of criteria for membership.

As part of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) membership conditions, five new criteria have been set, focussing on the climate emergency, nature loss and inequality.

Additionally, WBCSD expects its member companies to strive to the highest standards in corporate governance and transparency, aimed at enhancing the comparability of data for investors and other stakeholders.         

Notable members of WBCSD include: PepsiCo, Proctor & Gamble, Shell and Volkswagen.


"The conditions will let our member companies focus on putting credible science-based action plans into motion to transform our economic systems."

– Peter Bakker

President and CEO, WBCSD


Five Science-Based Criteria


The set of five new comprehensive criteria are:


  1. Set an ambition to reach net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, no later than 2050 and have a science-informed plan to achieve it.
  2. Set ambitious, science-informed, short and mid-term environmental goals that contribute to nature/biodiversity recovery by 2050.
  3. Declare support for the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by having in place a policy to respect human rights and a human rights due diligence process.
  4. Declare support for inclusion, equality, diversity and the elimination of any form of discrimination.
  5. Operate at the highest level of transparency by disclosing material sustainability information in line with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and align Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) with environmental, social and governance-related (ESG) risks.


The set up of the new criteria entails that WBCSD members are asked to prepare their companies over the next 24 months to be able to adhere to the membership criteria as of December 2022. From 2023, adherence will be monitored through the WBCSD “Reporting matters” project, which assesses WBCSD member’s reports on a yearly basis.

Peter Bakker, President and CEO of WBCSD since 2012, reflected: “This marks an important moment for WBCSD. Since the start in 1995, we have been the go-to place for businesses that are serious about sustainability and demonstrate true leadership for sustainable development. 

Now, in our 25th year, we decided to bring our membership conditions in line with the urgent challenges facing our society by adding five new criteria to our membership conditions. The conditions will let our member companies focus on putting credible science-based action plans into motion to transform our economic systems. 

"The fact that these were accepted by a strong majority of the leaders of our members during the 2020 AGM, shows that we are indeed the place for sustainable leadership and action, but also that our members are pushing for higher standards. Especially during this devastating pandemic, such an outcome underlines that businesses have not lost track of the greater pressing challenges looming ahead and are willing to tackle them urgently and collectively, if we are to create a world in which all nine+ billion people can live well within the boundaries of our planet.”


Is 2050 Soon Enough?


Steve Malkin, CEO of The Planet Mark and experienced sustainability consultant commented on the news:

“At The Planet Mark we welcome this news and were heartened to see the majority of World Business Council for Sustainable Developments members vote in support of acting on credible, net-zero plans. However, whilst we recognise this as a positive step, science informs us that to avoid irreversible climate damage, we must achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The next nine years are set to play a pivotal role in the trajectory of our planet and its rich biodiversity. At The Planet Mark we support organisations to accelerate from incremental to transformational climate action and unlock the related business benefits. Every year counts in this Decade Of Action, and we invite organisations of all sizes to be more ambitious and lead the way by setting 2030 net-zero targets.”

Picture: a photograph showing a close up of some leaves

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 28 October 2020


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