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World Economic Forum at COP28: Businesses, CSO and Others Partner up for Climate and Nature

World Economic Forum (WEF)
World Economic Forum (WEF)
  • World leaders joined the World Economic Forum on a global stocktake to measure progress on climate action and reinvigorate accelerated international responses to industry decarbonization and net zero, energy transition, food, nature and innovative finance
  • The Forum released the 2023 industry tracker on net zero, indicating the investment needed to fast-track the decarbonization of heavy-emitting industries
  • The Forum and its partners announced new food initiatives and a major partnership to strengthen sustainable management of South-East Asia coastal ecosystems
  • Learn more about the Forum’s work at COP28

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 12 December 2023 – World leaders joined the World Economic Forum’s programme at the 28th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP28) to advance dialogue, innovation and cooperation for accelerated climate action.

Gathering in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, heads of state, ministers, business leaders, philanthropy and civil society reflected on complex areas of industry decarbonization and net zero, energy transition, food, nature and innovative finance.

Global emissions are steadily rising at 1.5% a year when they need to be falling by 7% every year to 2030 to keep alive the goals of the Paris Agreement. The effects of warming temperatures and ecosystem degradation are already having a devasting effect on life. To address this critical challenge for the planet and humanity, a focus area for the Forum was the global stocktake to measure progress on climate action and identify gaps and responses to reinvigorate immediate international action.

The Forum mobilized global leaders and the international community to step up climate action to align with public sector expectations and global needs as well as to end deforestation and halt the degradation of land, freshwater and ocean ecosystems. The Forum held a programme of sessions aligned to the meeting’s thematic areas and looked to advance dialogue on decarbonization, energy transition, climate financing, biodiversity and adaptation.

As part of the effort to drive accelerated climate action, the Forum and its partners launched two new food initiatives and advanced participation over 12 high-impact partnerships to serve as ongoing platforms for continued collaboration to fight climate action around the world.

Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum, said: “It was encouraging to see government, business and civil society leaders coming together at COP28 with tangible commitments and actions to accelerate the net zero and nature positive transition. However, the results from the Global Stocktake show us that the task at hand to course-correct towards a 1.5 pathway is immense. There is no other option than courageous and collaborative leadership and the Forum stands committed to foster public-private-philanthropic partnerships to unlock transformative climate action in this decisive decade.”

On decarbonization and the energy transition

Immediate action is needed to bend the emissions curve and scale the climate technologies that will be essential to net zero – 50% of the emissions reductions needed for net zero must come from technologies not yet available at scale.

In addition, a massive buildout of new energy infrastructure, in particular clean power, is needed to meet the goals of the energy transition with total investment estimated at $4.5 trillion by 2030.

John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, United States, said: “When we founded the First Movers Coalition at COP26, it was born of the premise that this crisis is too severe for any one government to be able to solve it. So, the World Economic Forum joined with the EU and US to find businesspeople who are prepared to buy green solutions now to send a message to the marketplace. And we now have major businesses from around the world who have stepped up to help send this demand signal to the market so we can accelerate the transition to the new, clean and green economy. The members of the First Movers Coalition have now signed 96 offtake agreements in support of their commitments. These offtake agreements give confidence to this market to begin to develop”.

  • The First Movers Coalition has become the world’s largest private sector, with a clean demand signal for emerging climate technologies. FMC announced reaching 95 members who have collectively made 120 commitments to purchase innovative decarbonization technologies. By 2030, these commitments will represent an annual demand of $15 billion for emerging climate technologies and 29 million tonnes (Mt) CO2e in annual emissions reductions.
  • The Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders announced the launch of its Scope 3 Action Plan, designed to tackle scope 3 emissions through collaborative action across value chains.
  • Top regional business leaders from the Leaders for a Sustainable MENA initiative – a World Economic Forum-led coalition of public and private leaders from the Middle East and North Africa, who between them represent 10% of regional emissions – committed to achieving net zero by 2050, cumulatively cutting 200 Mt C02e from direct emissions by 2030.
  • The Forum report, Navigating Article 6: Opportunities for the Middle East and North Africa, looks at how public and private collaboration can spur action on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. The report provides a framework for an international carbon market to help the Middle East and North Africa region channel capital into cost-effective carbon-reduction projects.
  • To provide guidance for the energy transition, several Forum reports were released on the refuelling of the shipping industry and scaling zero-emission fuel supply as well as using a people-positive approach to scale-up clean power.
  • CEOs from the Leaders for a Sustainable MENA, representing some of the largest companies in the region, signed a joint letter pledging to achieve net zero by 2050 and to reduce 200 MT CO2 emissions by 2030.

On nature and biodiversity

Climate goals cannot be reached without protecting and restoring nature.

  • 1t.org welcomed two additional pledges from VELUX Group and AJE Group, taking the initiative to over 90 companies committing more than 11.9 billion trees in over 67 countries by 2030. This brings the world closer to conserving, restoring and growing 1 trillion trees by 2030.
  • A net-zero economy was the focus of the nature-positive session and insight papers on biodiversity credits were released to advance the debate on emerging markets for biodiversity credits. While the current market for voluntary biodiversity credits is estimated at around $8 million, scaling-up the market will require a clear business case, as well as aligning on common principles of integrity and governance. These reports capture the current state of the market and provide new information on the critical demand drivers and potential uses of the credits by early movers.
  • The Philippines government announced that it is joining the World Economic Forum’s Blue Carbon Action Partnership to accelerate the restoration and conservation of coastal ecosystems. The newly launched National Blue Carbon Action Partnership in the Philippines will convene, coordinate and support implementation to scale high-quality blue carbon action, representing nearly 700 billion metric tons of carbon sequestered in mangroves and seagrasses in the country. The Indonesia government also signed a renewed Memorandum of Understanding with the World Economic Forum, strengthening its National Blue Carbon Action Partnership, the first to be established globally. South-East Asia is home to almost one-third of the world’s mangroves, with nearly 20% in Indonesia alone.
  • Ocean innovation was also in the spotlight at COP28 with the announcement of new partnerships. The Forum and OceanX signed a Memorandum of Understanding for an initiative providing OceanXplorer’s cutting-edge technology to ocean start-ups, supported by the 1000 Ocean Startups coalition (1000OS) hosted by the Forum, to promote blue technology. The Forum and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation (FPA2) also marked a joint commitment to the foundation’s Ocean Innovators Platform, showcasing the most impactful ocean solutions and entrepreneurial innovations to conserve the world’s ocean, seas and marine resources.
  • A new paper published during COP28 examines nature-positive practices of corporate and financial institutions in China. The paper identifies and highlights 13 examples of measures by early-moving companies to address the drivers of biodiversity loss in their core business models and investment decisions. This is a necessary step towards achieving nature-positive transitions at a meaningful scale.

On health, adaptation and food systems

The global surge in weather disasters has made the need to adapt to climate change clear. While governments focus on risks, only 45% of large global businesses see physical climate impacts as a significant threat to their business. However, almost two thirds of businesses see opportunities in providing the goods, services or innovations needed to adapt to climate change.

  • The Forum launched the First Movers Coalition for Food, which aims to create aggregated market demand for sustainably produced and low-emission agricultural commodities. The UAE government and over 20 leading food companies will create a combined procurement commitment with an estimated value of $10 billion-$20 billion by 2030.
  • Building on the Agriculture Sector Roadmap to 1.5C that was pledged at COP26 and delivered at COP27 – and the Tropical Forest Alliance helped facilitate – 14 of the world’s largest agri-commodity traders have made progress to implement actions in their supply chains and scaled up technical assistance and incentives to support the transition to sustainable soy, cattle and palm oil production. Read more about individual corporate progress including recently updated no-conversion commitments by two of the world’s largest agri-commodity traders.
  • The Forum, together with the UAE government, launched the Food Innovation Hub for the UAE. The hub is led by the Forum and Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Global Initiatives and supported by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. It will focus on arid climate food production, integrity and circularity of food systems as well as incorporating locally produced food and sustainable alternatives into diets to support the UAE’s food innovation ecosystem.
  • The Forum released an insight paper on the transformation of global food systems for human health and resilience. The paper provides guidance to activate all stakeholders in the existing and emerging food and health ecosystems, articulating strategies that advance nutrition, strengthen the direct ties between food and health and align food system transformation with global sustainable development imperatives.
  • To provide insights on adaptation, the Forum released a paper on the stock-taking of business efforts to adapt to climate change, and a report on social innovation to provide insights on how partnerships with social innovators can enhance climate adaptation.
  • The Forum released a white paper on circularity in the built environment which focuses on the maximization of carbon dioxide abatement and highlighting business opportunities for circularity.
  • The Global Plastic Action Partnership announced a new National Plastic Action Partnership with the Philippines government – a platform employing a multistakeholder approach to combat plastic pollution. This model, utilizing a data-based methodology, is currently being implemented in 13 geographies in three continents.

On climate financing and trade

The Forum called on government, industry and philanthropy leaders to develop multiple partnerships for financing to scale up climate efforts. The Forum also believes capital flows can play a significant role in closing the climate finance gap. During COP28, the Forum released insight papers on catalysing climate action in Asia to unlock the power of philanthropic-private-public partnerships and a policy action framework to mobilize climate finance and market responses.

  • Finland’s Trade and Development Minister Ville Tavio announced support for the Action on Climate and Trade collaboration run by the Forum, together with the World Trade Organization and the World Bank Group. The funds will advance the initiative’s projects and strengthen joint efforts.
  • Forum communities identified 25 climate technologies on which to focus trade facilitation efforts to help countries meet climate goals.
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