At World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Meetings, Leaders Advance Cooperation on Climate Action, Industry Decarbonization and Social Resilience

23 Sep 2022
  • World Economic Forum meeting sees renewed action on cleaning up plastic waste, polluted air and contaminated water
  • Progress on climate action includes the launch of Crypto Sustainability Coalition and enhanced commitments around Scope 3 emissions
  • Reskilling Revolution champions continue to make progress in upskilling and reskilling 1 billion people

New York, USA, 23 September 2022 – The World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Meetings convened against a complex backdrop of interconnected crises that threaten progress on both climate change and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This includes soaring global energy costs, driven by the war in Ukraine, as well as high inflation and a rise in commodity prices, plunging millions more into food insecurity and poverty.

From 19-23 September 2022, over 800 leaders from the private sector, government and civil society gathered from across the world to agree concrete actions to address these pressing issues.

“Finding ways to work together is all the more important in an increasingly fractured world,” said Børge Brende, President and Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum. “Despite challenging headwinds, there are instances – pockets – of collaboration that are not only promising, but offer insight into what makes cooperation possible, and even durable.”

The Sustainable Development Impact Meetings centred on four themes, with the challenge of responding to climate change cutting across them all: scaling climate action; accelerating industry transformation; shaping resilient economies and societies; and advancing regional and global cooperation.

During the meetings, Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal at the European Commission, emphasized the importance of putting people first. “We can only solve the climate crisis if we put people’s health, prospects and livelihoods at the heart of our actions and interventions,” he said.

At the meetings, experts came to discuss the fragility of interconnected global resource systems and the need to include food in the climate discussion, especially as global food systems have come under enormous pressure. “When food fails, everything fails,” said Geraldine Matchett, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Royal DSM. “We must work to transform our food systems to be resilient, sustainable and healthy.”

Business leaders across industries shared their ambitions, concrete plans and actions. “The private sector plays a vital role in helping countries across the world navigate the current energy and food crises while continuing to strive for higher climate ambitions,” said Mirek Dušek, Managing Director, World Economic Forum.

The following concrete measures and outcomes were agreed upon at the meeting:

Scaling climate action

– The first ministerial meeting of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution, a coalition of 24 governments, convened to discuss a roadmap to end plastic pollution by 2040 and to identify priorities for upcoming negotiations over a UN treaty on plastic pollution.

Ecuador joined the World Economic Forum’s Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP) to drive national solutions on plastic pollution towards a circular economy, becoming the first Latin American country to do so.

– The World Economic Forum and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) signed a Letter of Intent to strengthen collaboration on tackling the global food crisis through data and digitalization, with the aim of supporting inclusive, sustainable, and healthy agri-food systems as well as increasing investment flows in the sector.

– The First Movers Coalition, a global initiative to decarbonize seven “hard-to-abate” industrial sectors that account for 30% of global emissions, launched its Finance Pillar. This brings together financial sector players to develop a blueprint to mobilize finance and improve understanding of medium- to long-term risks.

– A new report, Forests for Climate: Scaling up Forest Conservation to Reach Net Zero, made the case for private sector investment in national and sub-national approaches to protect forests. The report analyses an approach known as “jurisdictional REDD+” that channels results-based payments to forest governments and communities that avoid deforestation across entire landscapes.

– The Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, representing 123 companies across 26 countries, committed to setting Scope 3 targets, alongside the targets already set for Scope 1 and Scope 2. Scope 3 is critical to tackle value chain emissions, which account for 80% of the Alliance’s estimated 4.3 Gt of GHG emissions.

Accelerating industry transformation

– The Forum announced the launch of the Crypto Sustainability Coalition, a public-private initiative comprising over 30 different partners that aims to investigate and demonstrate how Web3 technologies can accelerate the low-carbon transition and support communities vulnerable to climate change.

– The Forum published new case studies of six major companies’ experiences in disclosing against the Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics, which illustrate how the metrics are driving internal corporate transformation and creating impact in the wider world of environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting.

– The Mobilizing Investment for Clean Energy in Emerging Economies (MICEE) initiative highlighted both existing and new collaborative policy and financial models that can accelerate the clean energy transition in developing economies. Among these were a new Cost of Capital Observatory for clean energy projects in developing economies launched by the International Energy Agency, World Economic Forum and other partners.

– The Climate Trade Zero community presented 25 key climate technologies for trade ministers to prioritize to advance climate action. The community also backed new work on climate-related foreign investment projects and improved net-zero trade capacity building for developing countries.

– A broad range of nutrition and food-policy stakeholders committed to create the Nutrition Transformation Network. The network’s initial aim will be to align around an evidence-based perspective on the role of nutrition and a roadmap to increase the availability, access and adoption of nutritious food choices at scale.

Shaping resilient economies and societies

– The Reskilling Revolution community took stock of its progress to date and aligned on key levers for accelerating progress on reskilling and upskilling 1 billion people, and recognized the substantive work currently underway by countries and industries. Nigeria became the latest country to launch a Skills Accelerator in collaboration with the Forum, joining 12 other countries leading the way on reskilling and upskilling.

– The World Economic Forum’s Refugee Employment and Employability Initiative will help share frameworks and case studies to support refugees in the labour markets of their host countries. Over 140 chief human resource officers will support the initiative.

– The Partnering for Racial Justice in Business initiative brought together business leaders and further refined its strategy, building consensus around an approach to anti-racism and defining the geographical scope of the initiative. At the same time, building on the findings from the Global Gender Gap 2022 report, the World Economic Forum continues to foster progress towards gender parity through its national Gender Parity Accelerators and the CEO leadership in the Global Parity Alliance.

Advancing regional and global cooperation

– The Forum and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) jointly launched a working group that brings together government, business leaders and international organizations in the region to support the implementation of the free trade area and identify opportunities for cooperation.

– The Leaders for a Sustainable Middle East and North Africa coalition of ministers and CEOs met with global stakeholders to discuss making progress on Paris Agreement commitments at COP27 and beyond. Discussions focused on the role of global enabling mechanisms including finance, technology and trade in a regional context, as well as potential lessons and synergies from other regions.

– The Humanitarian and Resilience Investing (HRI) Initiative brought together major international financial institutions, investors, donors, foundations and leading entrepreneurs working in fragile contexts to advance collaboration and help grow investment opportunities. Participants agreed that accepting higher risk, enabling better access to capital and changing mindsets around investing in these markets are key to unlock greater impact.

Resilience Consortium members and leaders from multilateral development banks and development institutions discussed the need to invest in a more coordinated manner in long-term resilience and durable solutions. The group agreed to drive more public-private awareness and investment into resilience initiatives, including at key upcoming gatherings such as COP27 and COP28.

Innovating through UpLink

– The Forum’s UpLink platform launched several challenges, including the Global Freshwater Challenge in partnership with HCL, for alternative solutions to conserve and restore freshwater, and the Trillion Trees: United States Challenge in partnership with US Chapter and American Forests, to shape “ecopreneurial” solutions that help conserve, restore and grow forests in the US.

UpLink announced the winners of the Innovative Funds for our Future challenge – 17 top innovators and 70 investment funds focusing on “start-up to scale-up” ventures across eight SDGs: nature, ocean, plastics, climate action, circular economy, water, health and education. It also announced a new collaboration with the Africa Teen Geeks, Africa’s largest computer science NGO, to support disadvantaged communities.

The meetings bring together communities of purpose, which integrate business leaders, policy-makers, international and civil society organizations, innovators and entrepreneurs. These stakeholders will use the meetings to advance their work, make concrete progress on the Sustainable Development Goals and build momentum towards key milestones in the coming months, including COP27 and the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 on 16-20 January.

Notes to editors:

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