Business executives in Asia were warned Thursday of the urgent need to change practices contributing to global warming if they want to succeed in the Western marketplace.
"Climate change is not a northern problem," said Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). "It touches on every sector."
More than 600 business leaders were attending the Global Business Summit for the Environment, the first major international conference on business and the environment in Asia.
The event was organized by the UNEP to raise corporate environmental responsibility by bringing companies together with the UN and other agencies.
"If you want to be a global player, these issues will affect your global competitiveness," Steiner said.
"Every day we receive new evidence of the harm that human activities are inflicting on the environment," Steiner said. "We face formidable challenges."
Climate change can even have a destabilizing impact on collective security, he added.
Delegates focused on market risks and business opportunities resulting from environmental change.
Among the risks that businesses face is "how to factor in climatic change," Steiner said. Looking ahead, he cited the predictability of biofuels.
"We are seeing rising waters, droughts and floods chasing each other and diseases," Steiner said. "It can never be too late" to tackle the environmental concerns.
A regulatory framework is needed, Stiner said.
Among the companies with an eco-friendly product is lighting maker Osram, a wholly owned subsidiary of German giant Siemens.
Chief executive officer Martin Goetzeler said in emerging and developing countries, many are still hesistant to replace incandescent lighting systems with energy-saving ones.
This is due to the lower purchase price of incandescent lamps despite the energy savings of up to 80 percent with the alternatives.
"There are countries where the question is about affordability," Goetzeler said. Under a clean development mechanism programme, these countries will receive energy-savings lamps free in order to help them reduce carbon dioxide emissions.