The World Economic Forum brought together leaders from the European Commission with chief executives and top-level representatives from the private sector to discuss the path to a green and sustainable post-COVID-19 recovery.
The Forum’s new CEO Action Group for the European Green Deal, chaired by Thomas Buberl, CEO of AXA, agreed to advance dialogue on the critical challenges facing Europe’s post-pandemic recovery and to work together to build a plan of action for mobilizing business to contribute in advancing the European Green Deal agenda.
“We must all join forces in the fight against the virus and the climate crisis. No government or business can handle this alone – strong partnerships and deepened cooperation are needed. I therefore welcome the launch of the CEO Action Group to support the European Green Deal, which must be the compass for our recovery and for building a resilient and climate-neutral future for Europe,” said Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany.
Since the launch of the European Green Deal in December 2019, the context for Europe has changed fundamentally. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the region now faces the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression with the Eurozone economy potentially contracting up to 7.7% this year.
While the focus is on immediate economic relief and saving households and jobs, the crisis has also opened an opportunity to consider a great transition of societies and economies.
“The European Green Deal must become the cornerstone of Europe’s pandemic recovery. Rather than rebuilding the 20th-century economy, we must focus on spending stimulus money wisely and on preparing Europe for a competitive and inclusive 21st-century, climate-neutral future,” said Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, European Commission.
“We have a unique opportunity to build a greener and more resilient Europe through investment and innovation. Today, the private sector and the public sector made a clear statement in support of a European Green Deal. As chair of this CEO Action Group, I am looking forward to working with my colleagues towards concrete proposals to make the Green Deal actionable, effective and, ultimately, successful” said Thomas Buberl, Chief Executive Officer of AXA.
The crisis presents an opportunity to accelerate industry innovation, including in the aviation sector. “Aviation will be fundamental to the economy recovering. But we must take the opportunity to build back better, cutting carbon from flying so that we tackle the greatest long-term challenge we face. By creating the right incentives and regulation, and investing their own funds, governments can make sustainable aviation fuels commercial and kick-start a whole new industry,” said John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive Officer, Heathrow Airport, United Kingdom.
“The European Green Deal is an opportunity to deliver a sustainable and inclusive COVID-19 recovery. This is Europe’s chance to offer global leadership. Business plays a critical role to accelerate investments and action to realize this ambitious plan – that is why we created the CEO Action Group for the European Green Deal,” said Martina Larkin, Head of Europe and Eurasia, and Member of the Executive Committee at the World Economic Forum.