Building World Trust- A Revolution in Collaboration for Action is Underway


So what are we doing to build world trust? The good news is that even though the scale, complexity, and threat of our climate-resource challenge is real and scary; we are naturally intelligent beings- social, collaborative, compassionate, purpose-driven, wise (sapiens). And when we point our compass true north with the conviction that we can meet our Mission 2020/2030 Goals… and by gosh, we are going to invoke our best nature-native selves to collectively create, play fair, share to get there, then we can beat the climate-resource kraken and improve the state of the world.


On the Forum Front:


While the scale of the challenge is swelling, the climate of collaboration is heating up across all relevant leadership forums hosted events before-during-after the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) and UN Summit, as well.


The WEF’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit hosted 700 business, government, civil society, and academic leaders from more than 70 countries; helping drive the emergence of over 100 new cross-cutting, multi-stakeholder alliances. Dominic Waughray (Head of the World Economic Forum Center for Global Public Goods) enumerates a few innovative alliances in his lead up article to the WEF Impact Summit, “We Can Save the Earth. Here’s How”.


“The Tropical Forest AllianceRE100, the WRI-C40 Coalition for Urban Transitionsthe Food and Land Use Alliance, the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy, the Friends of Ocean Action, the Global Battery Alliance, Grow Asia, the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders and the new Global Plastics Action Partnership. All are good examples of global, multi-stakeholder efforts that seek to tap into the resources, innovation and expertise of their collective networks to collectively shape agendas and help slow down or reverse some of our most pressing environmental issues.”


Late in the Climate Week, French President Emmanuel Macron and former Mayor Bloomberg co-hosted the One Planet Summit and the Bloomberg Business Forum along with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Dr. Jim Yong Kim, former President of the World Bank to call forth concrete funding initiatives that encourage a new generation of Clinton Global– like commitments to accelerating climate-energy-resilience solutions to meet the world’s Paris Agreement and SDG UN Global Goals commitments.


Climate Week NYC 2018 run by the Climate Group in collaboration with the UN and the City of New York became the community event container for more than 140 affiliated programs by business, government, academia, and the arts.


Preceding Climate Week by a week, Governor Jerry Brown from California and Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC was formed in San Francisco 100 years ago), co-hosted the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, which brought leaders together from around the world (400+ delegates & 500+ commitments) with the aim to “Take Ambition to the Next Level”. The main summit event was complemented by 325+ affiliated community events across the city. Commitments were central to the narrative here, as well. Commitments focused on 5 key areas: Health Energy Systems, Inclusive Economic Growth, Sustainable Communities, Land and Ocean Stewardship, and Transformative Climate Investments. Then as the program took shape in 2017, the hosting partnership grew as Michael Bloomberg, representing the UN’s Special Envoy on Cities and Climate Change brought attention to the work of cities and Chair of the Mahindra Group Anand Mahindra promoted (and exemplified) the business case for a clean energy economy. Anand Mahindra, asserting its best to lead first from the heart is one of the most powerful business leaders in Asia and is known for challenging his fellow leaders at WEF, 2018 to set science-based emission reduction targets for their companies ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit. Now the number of companies taking action has risen to a record 492 companies.


On the Investor Front:


The New Climate Economy 2018 report proposes we are entering a new era of economic growth; where the only growth that matters is sustainable, balanced, inclusive, climate resilience, clean energy growth. The report makes the case that the world is already adding more renewable power capacity in more connected, compact, coordinated cities (worth up to $17 trillion USD in savings by 2050). Sustainable land use in smart agriculture and forest protection could deliver over $2 trillion USD in economic benefits. Low carbon growth can deliver $26 trillion USD in economic benefits (a conservative estimate) by 2030. So why invest in any other direction, but in the New Climate Economy?


Indeed according to Mindy Lubber, the Investor’s Agenda going forward aims to accelerate action for a low-carbon world… and at the GCAS in San Francisco an unprecedented number of investors are “took up the mantle of leadership.” Nearly 400 investors with $32 trillion USD in collective assets under management in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia are aligning their investments with the Investor Agenda. This comprehensive agenda helps investors reduce climate risks (now a vocal concern of investors I heard at numerous events the past weeks), shift to (or create new) climate resilient, low-carbon portfolios, and disclose their actions to encourage an air of transparency and trust. Highlights to the Investor Agenda included:


  • 120 investors pursuing low carbon, climate resilient portfolios, while phasing out coal.
  • 345 institutional investors with $30 trillion USD in assets urging governments to now act on their climate commitments in Paris.
  • 296 investors from 29 countries with $30 trillion USD in assets are encouraging companies in their portfolios to reduce their carbon-resource footprint and disclose as part of Climate Action 100+
  • The Green Bond Pledge was unveiled that declared that all future capital infrastructure projects address climate risk and environmental impacts


While we are on the investment front and talking reduced Eiko ecologic-economic risk; let’s also consider a single-use plastic free world. Did you know that 95% of plastic packaging’s material value ($120 billion USD, annually) is lost entirely after the first use? New Climate Economy 2018 What if that $120 billion USD could be divested from ocean-trashing, micro-plastic pollution and re-invested in reverse chemical-engineering ventures with viable business models that biodegrade plastic trash into biological resource and new eco-friendly, biodegradable packaging solutions…for all our single use uses?


Complementing and reiterating the Investor Agenda and the 100’s of pledges premiered at the GCAS, the One Planet Summit and Bloomberg Business Forum announce a series of substantial commitments that included, for example, innovations in impact investment. There the Task Force for Philanthropy Innovation was launched with the aim to develop flagship blended finance vehicles to increase renewable energy, thwart air pollution and create climate-resistant agricultural models. Again announced, the Climate Action 100+, 225 investors appealing to the 100 largest global corporate GHG (greenhouse gas emitting) culprits… to change their ways and to see the better for business anyway light of day in the new clean energy climate future… inevitably coming.


The Climate Finance Partnership (CFP) was announced at the One Planet Summit by Larry Fink (director of Blackrock) as a unique coalition of philanthropy, government, and private investors- spearheaded by: the French Development Agency, the German Ministry for the Environment, the HP Foundation, and the IKEA Foundation; to design an investment vehicle for climate infrastructure in emerging economies.


Clearly fresh partnerships among investors and public-private blended funding vehicles for breakthrough clean energy technology ventures (BEV) was another dominant narrative at the One Planet Summit. This narrative (under Commitment 12) was particularly exciting also because of the diverse collection of characters— banks, businesses, national governments, and cutting edge companies. Additionally, six of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world (Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Kuwait Investment, Norges Bank Investment Management, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, the Qatar Investment Authority, and the New Zealand Super annexation Fund) committed to integrating financial risks and opportunities related to climate change into their long term asset pools. Indeed, it’s a healthy beginning born out of a collaborative effort aiming to pay off legacy healthy planet-people-profit integrated bottom line rewards.


Concurrent with the Sovereign Wealth Funds, Development Banks (30+ from around the world) also committed to re-direct financial flows to low-carbon and climate-resilient sustainable development. Actual commitments included $32.2 billion USD climate finance in 2017 (a 28% increase from 2016) collectively from the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) directed toward emerging and developing economies, and including $7.4 billion USD for climate adaptation (Climate Justice). Topping the MDBs, $196 billion USD was committed in 2017 (23% increase from 2016) from the International Development Finance Club (IDFC), including $10 billion USD for adaptation. Now to speak in $ billions USD seems quite substantive… and it is. That’s more money than I have in my bank account, but far less what Jeff Bezos has in his accounts (net worth: $154.8 billion USD), for example. That said, the community of climate adaptation specialists as I recall have since COP 15 in 2009 been lobbying for a larger sum of annual global funds for climate adaptation to the tune of $100 billion USD/year. And at one point, world leadership agreed to a $100 billion USD/year fund for ensuring climate security-resilience-adaptation-justice in the least developed countries. John Kerry, in fact, reminded those at his Ocean Talk at GCAS that indeed we had made that aspirational commitment. What happened? And where do we go from here? Up.


Again as another fresh next step, let’s hope Dr. Jeff Sachs’ Move Humanity proposition to 223 World Billionaires (Forbes) to donate 1% of their annual capital gains (wealth) to a UN Sustainable Development Fund is successful. And let’s hope that this move inspires an entire universe of small, medium, large philanthropic-minded impact investors as well to increase personal investing in our common home and our common future. Let’s hope that more and more social entrepreneurs of the class and caliber within the WEF Social Entrepreneurs community continue to discover and act on their passion and purpose to make the world a better place. Let’s hope that more and more collectively-formed, private funds like the Rise Fund ($2 billion USD, inspired by Bono, Jeff Skoll, Bill McGlashan) continue to grow and gain those high social-environmental impacts (wins for WE-ME planet and people) alongside competitive returns (wins for ME), while up-inspiring leading banks, like Bank of America to pioneer new $125 billion USD green funding projects, as well.


And finally, to conclude (for now) on another potential watershed investment moment in NYC, Michael Bloomberg made a One Planet Commitment to convene a Wall Street Network on Sustainable Finance aimed at encouraging climate-friendly, sustainable finance across US capital markets. This announcement marks the addition of yet another major financial center in the world to spur healthier investments in our future. Clearly a sea change on the investment front is underway. We just need to keep steering our earth ship in the right direction, marrying the economy and ecology; looking for planet-people-profit returns (whatever tag line works)… because it’s not just the economy, stupid.


On the Business Front:


“The 17 SDGS are about people, planet and prosperity. It will be a true global transformation that humankind has never seen before, and we only have 12 years to get the whole thing right. It all hinges on connecting the SDG country plans with the private sector and investments to redirect finance toward the 2030 Agenda. In this work, the private sector is crucial.”

Lise Kingo (Director, UN Global Compact)


On the business front, the We Mean Business coalition is still catalyzing corporate action and driving policies to ramp up the clean energy transition. The ticker on the commitments, companies, and collective market cap the growing coalition represents… continues to rise. Today the figures stand at 1336 commitments, 820 company leads, and $16.9 trillion USD in market cap. Commitments include companies agreeing to join the RE 100 Network on a course toward 100% renewable power and/or companies signing up to the Science-Based Target Initiative, again spearheaded by the Mahindra Group @ WEF 2018. And the great news is that now these RE 100 companies are reporting greater profit than their competitors. Further, the B Team, with its illustrious leadership circle and all-female executive team continues to actively engage their corporate membership to govern in transparent and purpose-driven ways, to protect civil rights, to aim toward net zero in waste and carbon, to prevent corruption, and to scale good business practices for the long run.


For many years businesses have asked governments within the UN forums to put a price on carbon and to create policies that would give the market stable signals of the future trajectory on carbon and resource value. As primary actors and drivers of future opportunity, now coalitions like the We Mean Business, RE 100, The Climate Group , and others are also promoting a narrative where businesses set effective, clear policies for their institutions and industries, anticipating that then governments will follow and even invest in the direction business guides us to go. Now that’s an earth ship flip move and a viable strategy for following the Exponential Climate Action Roadmap and meeting our Climate Action Paris AgreementUN Global Goal Targets.


I am inspired again. I believe again. We can balance our carbon budget and make our air-water-soil-land-ocean pure again.


I want to end (for now) on my favorite example of business and sub-national leaders as first movers on climate change. The We Are Still In- American Pledge was born from the frustration of business, local government leaders, and civil society that one man thought he could trump the commitment of the people he was supposed to represent in the Paris Climate Agreement. So, while the European Union; all other G7 countries (China, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the UK), and frankly the entire world (181 nations have ratified to date), save for Syria and Nicaragua forge ahead toward a new climate economy and fill the leadership gap the current US national government has left… In the US, 3,568 leaders are “Still In” the Paris Agreement. In a heartening display of true leadership, future foresight, and moral valor; these 3,568 business, government, and civic leaders over the past year; representing over 169 million people across 50 states and a total of $9.46 trillion USD in GDP—have re-affirmed our US commitment to the Paris Agreement.


On the Political Front:


And on the political front, John Kerry revealed in his GCAS speech in San Francisco that these American Pledges actually represent 50% of the US Paris climate commitment, half of the US population, and more economic capacity than every country who signed the Paris agreement with the exception of China. Now that is exciting! America is becoming smart again… by eliciting the soul and leveraging our direct democracy. Then to the business of fulfilling those pledges, the GCAS co-chairs Governor Jerry Brown and Michael Bloomberg unveiled a new report, “Fulfilling America’s Pledge” on HOW cities, states, businesses in the US can “bring the US within real striking distance of its 2025 emissions reductions targets in the absence of federal leadership.”


So, the super good news is that in reality, America is Still In… 100%.


True, we still have a long way to go to get from here to there, but by our collective will, by the collective intelligence of sub-national leaders, and by the collective efforts of business and civil society… one city, one company at a time… the United States of America can be climate smart again!!!


Then on the international political front, cities and local governments are still actively progressing and sharing best practices among their ICLEI, EU Covenant of Mayors, Compact of Mayors + C40 Summit members, while efforts within the unified context of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy launched last week. In Europe alone, the European Commission proposed to dedicate 25% of the next EU (2021-2027) budget to climate finance and support for sustainable infrastructure investments, totaling EURO 320 billion and expected to leverage EURO 150 billion, more through their InvestEU program.


Then despite political upset at home, President Emmanuel Macron used his national leadership position to recruit other national leaders to re-commit and/or take up new, more aggressive carbon neutral positions, like his country. He hosted (and stayed the entire day) @ the One Planet Summit in NYC, while 16 countries re-confirmed their commitment to the Carbon Neutrality Coalition. Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Marshall islands, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sweden… and now Spain (announced at the One Planet Summit)- All aim to be carbon neutral countries by 2050 and a 2050 Pathway Platform was launched at COP 22 by Laurence Tubiana and Hakima El Haite to help them realize their action plans. Finally, it’s a big world. There are many moving parts and players… and if there is one take-away for me from these last weeks; it is that we must continue to search, solicit, and secure fresh ways to work together.


On the Personal Front- Our Final Frontier:


In the end and in the beginning, everyone counts. We- every person on the planet makes 1000’s of decisions every day on: how to live our lives, what we choose to read, who we choose to support, which brand we believe, what food, fuel, goods and services we decide to buy, where we travel, to whom we influence, for whom we allow to influence our actions, where we voice our opinions and express our beliefs, how we treat each other, how we treat our environment, what waste we choose to waste or reduce-reuse-recycle, how we get around town, what passions we pursue, where we live, where we play, with whom we work, what we eat, which songs we repeat… so how again, are we going to collectively meet this climate feat????


We are the future we’ve been waiting for. And one only need to turn to the Global Citizen Impact Report to see that humanity can be mobilized for good (19,220,307 actions taken, #37.9 billion USD in commitments made, 2.25 billion lives set to be affected). We are the generation to first to feel the effects of our human planetary-scale influence on the atmosphere-biosphere of the only planet we will ever be able to call, home. Indeed, it’s serious now…. Again, we are playing chess with nature… and every move, every one of us makes, matters. Humanity can be a collective force for good. It’s just now all hands on deck, so we can be sure to flip our earth ship in time and avoid the climate kraken, trackin’ our real behavior.


An Invitation: