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Global Business and Civil Society Leaders Issue Urgent Call for Leadership on Effective Climate Deal
Meeting with Heads of State and Government from more than 50 nations, nearly 200 leaders of global business and civil society organizations gathered at the United Nations today to convey their support for a balanced, fair and effective global climate agreement.The UN Leadership Forum on Climate Change, organized by the UN Global Compact in collaboration with a broad group of UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes, marked the first time that the United Nations brings chief executives together with Government leaders to build political momentum for a climate agreement, to be negotiated in December at the critical UN Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in Copenhagen.
Speakers at the lunch event, held in conjunction with the high-level UN Summit on Climate Change, included UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, former US Vice President Al Gore, and a wide range of leaders representing the business and investment communities, and civil society.
As a working meeting, the Forum featured a number of interactive discussions on critical issues closely related to the climate challenge, including water and food security, energy solutions, financing, disaster preparedness and risk reduction, and sustainable enterprises and decent work. Business leaders announced a series of new commitments, initiatives and partnerships to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, spread innovative solutions and address associated risks, from poverty to public health.
The Forum took place amid significant recent shifts in business perceptions of the urgency and benefits of early climate action. While many remain reluctant to support comprehensive action, with some actively lobbying against ambitious climate agreements, a fast-growing number of business leaders is now engaging actively as advocates, solution providers and pro-climate investors.
On the advocacy side, the Copenhagen Communiqué, a statement by The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change calls on world leaders to agree on “an ambitious, robust and equitable global deal on climate change”. The statement is now supported by over 500 global executives. Similarly, 181 investment institutions collectively representing USD 13 trillion in global assets have supported the 2009 Investor Statement on the Urgent Need for a Global Agreement on Climate Change issued by the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change and its partners.
The World Economic Forum has released a summary of recommendations of its Low-Carbon Prosperity Task Force, a business-led multi-stakeholder collaboration that formulates the economic and policy conditions needed to “incentivize investments and bring the low-carbon economy into being”.
In May, global business leaders attending the World Business Summit on Climate Change hosted by the Copenhagen Climate Council, issued the Copenhagen Call, a set of concrete actions business believes are required to forge an effective new global climate treaty.
The UN Leadership Forum also gave recognition to several sectoral and national initiatives, such as the Open Letter to Brazil on Climate Change issued by Ethos Institute of Business and Social Responsibility and other civil society organizations.
Beyond advocacy, a number of collaborative frameworks have been gaining traction to expedite climate action at the corporate level. These include the Global Compact’s Caring for Climate platform, the rapidly growing Carbon Disclosure Project, and the important work done by the International Chamber of Commerce and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
Several new reports launched at the Leadership Forum present the perspectives and expectations of leading CEOs and project how market sustainability is closely linked to Governments’ ability to seal a deal in Copenhagen.
Reflective of the rise in advocacy for comprehensive climate action, Forum participants issued a joint declaration calling for “a new level of leadership” and articulating a strong business case for the negotiation of a climate framework. The declaration further stresses the critical importance of an agreement to unleash far-reaching investments, drive innovation, boost global cooperation and secure the long-term sustainability of the global marketplace.
“Business has a critical role to play in building political momentum for a fair and effective climate agreement in Copenhagen,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “I hope the UN Leadership Forum on Climate Change will send a strong message to governments. By taking action today, we can help usher in a new era of sustainable global green growth for all.”
Dialogue today announced a new report, Social Media Advances the Sustainability Dialogue, New Ways to Powerfully Engage Stakeholders. The paper identifies the natural intersection between sustainability and the rise of social media; explores what leading brands are doing to change how they communicate; and shows how organizations can use their sustainability efforts to engage with their stakeholders in powerful ways that enhance trust and reputation.
Today’s stakeholders are increasingly looking for an authentic, two-way dialogue – gone are the days of one-way communication. Much of today’s efforts to communicate about sustainability by the S&P 500 focus on producing reports that comply with standards such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). A traditional sustainability report is still needed, but there are other ways for companies to disseminate that information and turn it into a conversation that builds trust, solves problems, and increases reputation, all of which contributes to the financial bottom line.
Social media is a growing phenomenon, and one that should not be underestimated in terms of reach and influence. Forrester reports that “More than 4 in 5 US online adults now participate socially with people aged 35 to 54 growing 60 percent in the last year alone.
The prevalence of social media and increasing importance of sustainability efforts offers companies a unique opportunity to more effectively engage stakeholders. There is a natural intersection between social media and sustainability as both require authenticity, accountability and engagement with their audience to be effective. SDialogue’s paper shows how the power and influence possible with social media enables companies to advance the sustainability dialogue, taking it to a new, higher level of engagement and transparency. It can be downloaded for free at www.sdialogue.com/social.
This afternoon, my husband and I executed our wills. Since I had made my intentions clear in discussions in advance of today’s meeting, and my husband (a law professor) and our attorney prepared the documents carefully, I glanced at my will and asked where to sign. The both looked at each other and then at me, and said simultaneously, “But there is a signing ritual.” They then explained to me that the law requires a specific ritual to ensure that people regard and recognize the importance of the decisions they are making.
I walked home thinking about the ways in which I use the same concept of ritual in conducting nonprofit board retreats.
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CSR Minute: September 22, 2009 – Macy’s Cause Marketing; HSBC, ACCESS Development’s Microfinance Award; Living Cities’ White Papers
Corporate Social Responsible News: Macy’s Cause Marketing; HSBC and ACCESS Development’s Microfinance Award; Living Cities’ White Papers
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