„Earth Summit 1992“
In 1992, the first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) was held in Rio de Janeiro. The Earth Summit in Rio was a large diplomatic event and marked a turning point in society of the 20th century. The main point of discussion was the question of reducing pressure on global eco-systems through the introduction of the paradigm of sustainable development. This new principle is based on the realization that environmental problems and social issues cannot be considered nor resolved separately.
Stephan Schmidheiny was very actively involved in the preparations for the Earth Summit. In 1990, he met the general secretary of UNCED, Maurice Strong, on the fringes of a conference in Norway. Based on Stephan Schmidheiny's experience as an entrepreneur and especially thanks to his reputation as a pioneer in phasing out of asbestos processing, Maurice Strong appointed Stephan Schmidheiny as his chief advisor for business and industry.
In order to tackle the work, Stephan Schmidheiny decided to create a business council for sustainable development (BCSD). In less than a year, he managed to recruit 50 top executives from different industries and regions. Among others, these included the heads of ABB, Alcoa, Chevron, Ciba-Geigy, Dow, DuPont, Mitsubishi, Nippon Steel, Nissan, Shell and Volkswagen.
The outcome of the BCSD's work was the bestseller "Changing Course: A Global Business Perspective on Development and the Environment", which was published in 1992 and translated into 15 languages. In it, Stephan Schmidheiny explains the entrepreneurial concept of eco-efficiency. The book shows how enterprises can combine environmental protection with economic growth. The prefix "eco" refers both to economics as well as ecology. On June 5, 1992, Stephan Schmidheiny presented the results of the work at the Earth Summit.