- Global warming is the world's greatest challenge, with the probability of exceeding 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels now at 50%.
- We will all be impacted by the climate crisis if this trajectory is not reversed through collective and urgent action.
- At the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting, global leaders need to support bold ideas, action-oriented alliances and partnerships to foster trust and build bridges to contribute to a better world.
Spring is a time of fresh beginnings. It is noteworthy that for the first time in the 50-year history of the World Economic Forum, and after a two-year hiatus, the Annual Meeting in Davos is being held in spring – one of the most beautiful seasons in Switzerland, when flowers are in full bloom and nature, comes alive.
As leaders gather in person to discuss challenges of climate action, energy transition, food affordability, healthcare access and jobs, this Annual Meeting will also be an opportunity to foster a sense of camaraderie, collective purpose and common destiny.
The climate crisis is at our doorstep. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has just published its ‘State of the Global Climate 2021’ report noting that the probability of temporarily exceeding 1.5ºC above the pre-industrial era is now 50% over the next five years. Average global temperatures in 2021 were already about 1.11 ºC above the pre-industrial levels, so we are very close to the tipping point of 1.5ºC.
The climate crisis must be reversed
We face dire consequences if we do not reverse this trajectory. Beyond 1.5ºC, 70-90% of coral reefs worldwide will be irreversibly damaged, and there will be a significantly increased frequency of extreme weather events. As I write this, we are experiencing record high temperatures in India and Pakistan, drought conditions in the western parts of the US and France, to name just a few.
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Each one of us, regardless of background, geography, income, race or creed, will be impacted by the climate crisis. No-one will be able to escape by retreating into isolation and protectionism.
We are much more connected and interdependent than we realize, sharing our global commons of biodiversity, climate, land, ocean and water. Like it or not, we are bound together in building and protecting the future of our world.
The Nature and Climate leadership agenda in Davos is thus focused on stewardship and partnership:
- Fostering a sense of collective responsibility and strengthening resolve among global leaders to address the climate crisis.
- Exploring and embarking on all pathways for climate action, whether these are nature-based solutions, such as land restoration and soil health, energy efficiency solutions and renewables, technological advances in materials, green hydrogen and carbon capture, or innovations enabled through policy, data and finance.
- Deepening and broadening collaborative efforts between the public, private and people sectors, across industry sectors and their value chains, between geographies and across communities.
This year’s Annual Meeting will have more than 100 sessions, convened by the Forum and our affiliates, across the themes of:
- Driving climate ambition, scaling solutions and financing
- Building a nature positive economy
- Regenerating food, ocean and water systems
- Improving resource management and preventing pollution
The transition pathways towards environmental sustainability will not be easy. Neither is there only one way forward to deal with the climate crisis. Industries, businesses and governments will have to design and navigate their respective paths, leveraging their strengths and capabilities, and taking into account the context and circumstances of their operating environment.
Energy and food security top issues at Davos
Indeed, top of mind for many of the leaders gathered in Davos this week will be how to deal with the immediate issues of energy and food security, while pushing forward to realize the common vision of clean air and water, rich soils and biodiversity, cool earth and supporting thriving, cohesive and inclusive communities.
As we look for new opportunities and partnerships to progress the climate and nature agenda, the Annual Meeting will continue to drive impact through existing programmes that have been initiated with partner governments and international organizations, corporates and other stakeholders.
These include the First Movers’ Coalition and Mission Possible Partnership to support industry decarbonization and drive demand for new technologies and investment in innovation; the Tropical Forest Alliance and Trillion Trees Initiative to prevent deforestation and scale land restoration, tree growing and forest conservation efforts; and the 100 Million Farmers and Food Innovation Hubs to support farmers and communities in the transition of food systems to be more sustainable, more inclusive and affordable and more nutritious.
There is also the Blue Food and Blue Carbon Action Partnerships and Global Water Initiative to inform policy and business strategy anchored on science and knowledge, as well as Global Plastic Action Partnership that catalyses local stakeholder partnerships to reduce plastic waste and pollution and develop new market mechanisms, such as Sustainable Finance and Carbon Markets.
What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?
Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.
To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The World Economic Forum's Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.
This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.
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This is an important moment in history – an open invitation for all of us to expand our realms of knowledge and creativity, and for human enterprise and exchange to respond swiftly and effectively. The Forum welcomes and is ready to support bold ideas and initiatives, action-oriented alliances and partnerships, to foster trust and build bridges to contribute to a better world.
Through the interactions and discussions, we hope to provoke transformative thinking and radical action. We will call on leaders to lead disruptions and systems change and to respond to the crisis in good time, with speed and scale, at the lowest possible costs. I wish everyone fruitful discussions and a successful meeting.