According to the UN, governments and companies made 692 individual pledges during the last UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) , totalling $513billion (€ 407billion) of investment in projects aimed at boosting sustainable resource management.
Water is one of the more important natural resources and its scarcity could threaten the subsistence of global agriculture.
The summit can be compared favourably with the first Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where no corporations were present and few investment pledges were made.
The project also including plans to eliminate deforestation from the retail supply chain.
It has been impossible to avoid the glut of criticism from green NGOs and politicians left deeply disappointed by the lack of ambition on display at the Rio +20; however, business leaders maintain while the so-called “Future We Want” is unlikely to deliver sweeping economic and environmental changes on its own, it could still mark a turning point for the green growth agenda.
Malcolm Preston, Global Head of Sustainability Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers (Pwc) , said that during the summit UN leaders effectively passed the baton of responsibility for building the green economy to the business community.
He said the text would only achieve successes if governments worked in tandem with businesses to drive the green growth agenda forward, predicting that as a result of the summit we will see an increasing number of public-private green project partnerships formed over the coming years.
Preston added that this ambitious goal would require companies to start this year to meet the demanding target of delivering zero net deforestation by 2020.
One of the more ambitious pledges was an announcement by the US government to partner with more than 400 companies and brands in the Consumer Goods Forum to achieve zero net deforestation in their supply chains by 2020.
The UN General Assembly is now expected to appoint a group of representatives from 30 countries by September to develop the goals, which are expected to focus on areas such as food, water, and energy.