This year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos gave political and business leaders an opportunity to take stock of the United Nations (UN) 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement (COP21) agreed last year.
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, told participants said now it is time to act. “The only agenda greater than our promises is to deliver and implement these two important agreements.”
The Paris Climate Agreement gave the private sector “an unprecedented opportunity” to foster a race to the top of climate ambitions, Ban added.
Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France, praised the private sector for its commitment and engagement during the Paris Climate Agreement negotiations. “Companies are doing a wonderful job. Now we have to be sure that new initiatives will be taken on by civil society.”
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Brussels, a Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016, has been advocating for multilateral partnerships to deliver green growth and good jobs. “We cannot have a future based on inequality and climate devastation,” she said. Achieving the SDGs and realizing the promises of COP21 will require “incredible systems change … it will be faster than any industrial revolution we have faced to date.” Burrow pointed to the good news that jobs in renewable energy are outpacing those in other sectors by 20 times. She called for a Transition Fund funded by a small percentage of carbon pricing or by reducing fossil-fuel subsidies.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations and the President of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, also jointly announced their intention to form a new panel to mobilize urgent action on the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for water, sanitation and related targets.
Dominic Waughray, Head of Public-Private Partnership at the World Economic Forum said, “The World Economic Forum is delighted to support the high-level Panel on water, and recognises the critical role it will play. Our Global Risks 2016 report placed water crises in the top three global risks of highest impact in the next 10 years. Leveraging our platform and networks will allow public-private cooperation to help advance the panel’s important objective to promote water-resilient economic growth in a warming world.”
Leaders from business and other sectors welcomed the panel, and emphasised the need for this initiative to catalyse practical action.
Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman of Nestle and Chairman of the 2030 Water Resources Group said, “The High-Level Panel is an important effort. The mark of success for the panel will be practical action and tangible impact. Let this be an opportunity to break down silos at the highest level and collaborate with the private sector and others, building on existing partnerships and initiatives to bring these efforts to scale and to transform the water agenda.”