2015 has always been a year filled with promise for a better climate and a more sustainable world. As we move into the second half of this pivotal year, I am filled with hope and optimism seeing what business can contribute to make 2015 a historic year for sustainable development.
The last two months have seen an unprecedented mobilization from business pledging to lead the global transition to a low-carbon economy. At the Business & Climate Summit, 25 business networks representing 6.5 million companies from 130 countries called for a climate deal to achieve net zero emissions before the end of the century. Through the We Mean Business coalition, we carried this message to the G7 leaders. We are proud to see that they agreed to deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, recognizing the need for leadership in transforming energy systems, mobilizing climate finance and developing long-term national low-carbon strategies.
And the momentum for Paris keeps growing. China recently announced a reduction of its CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65% from 2005 levels by 2030. The United States and Brazil pledged to source 20% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030, not including hydropower. Brazil also pledged to restore and reforest 12 million hectares of forest by 2030.
These are welcome developments and they help me feel hope that we can reach an ambitious climate agreement in Paris in December.
However, more is needed to ensure we stay below the 2°C threshold. We are at the start of a long journey of public-private collaboration. As governments meet over the coming five months to discuss development finance, sustainable development goals and climate, there is an opportunity for forward-looking businesses like yours to support them with your solutions.
Climate and Sustainable Development agendas meet in September
Business and the SDGs
In September, the heart of the sustainable development agenda will be beating in New York. During the week of 21-27, ministers from across the globe will discuss social and environmental issues at the UN General Assembly. On 25-27 September, heads of state and government will meet to adopt the SDGs and the post-2015 development agenda at the UN Special Summit on SDGs.
The SDGs apply to all countries and they will set framework conditions that you can use to help your business become more successful. On 26 September, together with the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), we will launch the SDG Compass for business during the Private Sector Forum. The SDG Compass will help you navigate and understand the available tools and approaches to align your business strategy with the SDGs. I encourage you to join this inspiring session, featuring CEOs demonstrating concrete action on scaling up business contribution to the SDGs.
Leading business action on climate beyond Paris
As well as being the center stage for the post-2015 development agenda, New York is also an important milestone on the Road to Paris. On September 24 (tbc), the third Roundtable of our Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi) will take place. More than 80 leading companies and 30 partners are already engaged in accelerating low-carbon technology development and deployment. LCTPi groups have defined their ambitions, identified key barriers and are now working on action plans to scale up business solutions. Our New York Roundtable will finalize these action plans, define the policy asks and activate communications for Paris. Following New York, we will be supporting the French Government’s climate dialogue with CEOs in Tokyo back to back with the Innovation for Cool Earth Forum on 7-8 October. LCTPi will be showcased at these events in the final run up to COP21 where companies will announce business led climate actions for 2016 and beyond.
HABITAT III – Towards Sustainable Cities
Lastly, New York is also an opportunity for you to contribute as a solution provider for urban sustainability challenges. On 25 September in a session entitled Private sector engagement opportunities for Habitat III, we will kick off the preparations for the 3rd UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Ecuador, in October 2016. Organized every 20 years, Habitat III will define the New Urban Agenda. We will jointly host a session with ARCADIS as co-chairs of the UN Habitat Urban Private Partners group. Here you will find out how your business can engage and contribute to the business vision of “The City We Need” document, the main stakeholder input channel for the inter-governmental process leading up to the conference.
We look forward to working with you on collaborative initiatives that turn the sustainability agenda into new market opportunities for your business.
The first half of the year has sown the seeds of hope for a more sustainable and prosperous world. Determination, leadership and concrete actions from both business and governments will be instrumental in ensuring those seeds bear fruit.
Let me end by wishing all of you a great summer of 2015.
President & CEO, WBCSD