We Have Climate Solutions: Now We Need Partnerships, Say Leaders At WEF Summit


The World Economic Forum’s third annual Sustainable Development Impact Summit opened in New York City with an affirmation that the world has the science, data, know-how and public awareness to solve the challenge of climate change – what is needed now is intensified collaboration and communication to implement and scale solutions.

“There has never been a better time to mobilize technology and human capabilities to solve global challenges,” Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, told global leaders from government, the private sector and civil society. Speaking of the summit’s goals, Schwab declared: “We need not just urgency, but also direction, perseverance and a true partnership spirit.”

Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, describing his country’s recently launched initiative to cut carbon emissions 49% by 2030 and 95% by 2050, stressed the importance of broad collaboration and clear communication. “We must bring all of society together,” he said. “If you are not communicating clearly, you are communicating uncertainty.”

Melati Wijsen, Co-Founder, Bye Bye Plastic Bags, explained how at age 12 she and her younger sister started a movement which now, six years later, has banned single-use plastic bags from her home island of Bali. “The power of Bye Bye Plastic bags is that we were youth-led,” Wijsen said. “We, the younger generation, are unstoppable.”

“We can fix this,” said Jesper Brodin, CEO and President, Ingka Group (which includes IKEA), referring to the power of governments, business and communities to solve climate change challenges. He noted that in a survey his company held recently, 90% were deeply concerned about climate change but only 3% knew how to contribute. “The solutions are already here,” he said. “They just require scaling existing technologies. This is why this collaboration is so important.”

Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, said his state is succeeding in cutting emissions while growing its economy at a rate well above the United States average. “California is going through one of the most radical decarbonization programmes in the world,” he said. “We have decided to move away from situational values to sustainable values. If you don’t invest in the future, you won’t do well in it.”

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship gave out awards to 40 leaders in social innovation from around the world. This year’s awards included three new award categories – Public Social Intrapreneur, Corporate Social Intrapreneur and Social Innovation Thought Leader – along with the established category of Social Entrepreneur of the Year.

Social entrepreneurs recognized by awards are leading initiatives for clean drinking water, affordable clean energy, digital financial inclusion, online education and sustainable agriculture, among many others.

“Social entrepreneurs are no longer working in isolation – the Schwab Foundation recognizes the champions of social innovation in the social sector but also in business, government and academia. We see social innovation as an ecosystem of pioneering actors with a common purpose,” said Hilde Schwab, Co-Founder and Chairperson of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.

The Sustainable Development Impact Summit takes place in New York, 23-24 September. This year’s meeting will convene more than 800 regional and global leaders from government, business, civil society and academia. The meeting will explore four themes: transforming markets, accelerating climate action, financing sustainable development and mobilizing action for inclusive societies.

The Co-Chairs of the Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2019 are Jesper Brodin, CEO and President, Ingka Group (IKEA Retail, Ingka Centres, Ingka Investments); Sebastián Piñera Echenique, President of Chile; Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands; and Melati Wijsen, Co-Founder, Bye Bye Plastic Bags.

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