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World Economic Forum Spurs Impact Through Stakeholder Responsibility

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The 50th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting closed on Friday, a historic meeting bringing all stakeholders together to shape a cohesive and sustainable world. This milestone Annual Meeting has been truly remarkable because of progress made on a spectrum of issues, where public-private collaboration is crucial.

Cohesive World

On Inclusive Growth

The International Business Council, incorporating 140 of the world’s largest companies, agreed to support efforts to develop a core set of common metrics and disclosures that can be used to measure private-sector progress on key environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals.

The Forum became a founding partner last week, alongside Refinitiv, and the United Nations of The Future of Sustainable Data Alliance. The alliance focuses on improving the quality of climate and environmental data for companies and investors.

The Davos Friends of Africa Growth Platform was launched with the support of the Presidents of Botswana and Ghana to promote entrepreneurship in Africa. The platform’s initial target is to reach 1 million entrepreneurs by the end of 2020.

A strategic partnership was signed between the World Economic Forum and the OECD to accelerate progress towards inclusive and sustainable growth globally.

42 organizations, including businesses from the mining, automotive, chemical and energy sectors, that have a combined revenue of a trillion dollars, agreed on 10 guiding principles to reinforce environmental stewardship, sustainable development and respect for human rights in the global battery value chain.

On Skills and Work

The Reskilling Revolution was launched to provide better education, skills and jobs to a billion people by 2030 with the initial backing of the governments of Brazil, France, India, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, UAE and the US as well as many important companies.

Six leading platform companies became founding signatories of the Forum’s Charter of Principles for Good Platform Work.

The Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality, which was launched in Davos last year to accelerate inclusion for LGBTI people, announced it has grown its membership to 15 international businesses.

On “Saving Lives”

CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations that was launched in Davos in 2017, today announced the initiation of three programmes to develop vaccines against the novel coronavirus, nCoV-2019 in partnership with Moderna and the Wellcome Trust.

The World Economic Forum announced a partnership with the Global CEO Initiative (CEOi) to form a coalition to accelerate treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

The Forum initiated Ending Workplace Tuberculosis, a multisector initiative aimed at tapping into the business community to help stop TB in countries disproportionately by the disease.

On Trade

Ministers in Davos announced negotiations between 99 economies on a new international agreement on investment facilitation at the World Trade Organization. The agreement aims to make it easier for investment to flow between economies while increasing its development impact.

As the US and France agreed a détente on digital taxation during the Annual Meeting, the Forum received a mandate from multistakeholder partners to further build understanding of and encourage input into international tax reforms.

The Forum partnered with the Japanese government to launch a multistakeholder effort to find practical mechanisms to enable “Data Free Flow with Trust” in support of the Osaka Track process that was initiated at the G20 in 2019.

On Civil Society

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship announced that its community has improved the lives of more than 622 million people in 190 countries since 2000. Examples of impact include: distributing $6.7 billion in loans or value of products and services; mitigating more than 192 million tonnes of CO2; improving education for more than 226 million children and youth; improving energy access for more than 100 million people; and driving social inclusion for over 25 million people.

Sustainable World

On Combating Climate Change

1t.org, a new multistakeholder effort to support efforts to grow, conserve and restore 1 trillion trees by the end of the decade was announced. Within the first days of its launch, Colombia announced to plant 180 million trees by 2022, Salesforce committed to plant 100 million trees and Pakistan said it will plant 2 billion trees. Additionally, 1T was supported by the US, China and Saudi Arabia as part of its G20 Presidency. The Forum’s network of Global Shapers also committed to planting one million trees by 2021 across its 400 hubs worldwide.

New members signed up to the Forum’s community of CEO Climate Leaders. The community is committed to helping companies meet the Paris Climate Goals.

The Sustainable Markets Initiative, backed by a Sustainable Markets Council, was launched by HRH The Prince of Wales in collaboration with the Forum with the goal of bringing about a transition to sustainable financial markets and rapid industry decarbonization.

The Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance of 16 pension funds and insurers, committed to helping achieve the Paris Climate Goals, added the Church of England and Generali as new members. The Alliance’s portfolio now stands at $4.3 trillion.

The Forum’s Advanced Manufacturing and Production community launched the Carbon Reduction in Manufacturing Initiative to achieve a goal of cutting carbon emissions in manufacturing by 50% by 2030.

On the SDGs

Frontier 2030 was launched as a platform to leverage the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to accelerate the SDGs. The platform is led by UNDP in partnership with the governments of Botswana, South Korea and Norway, and private sector commitment from a range of companies.

The Food Action Alliance was launched by the Forum, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and over 20 global leaders to strengthen the sustainability of the world’s foods systems through better nutrition, climate adaption and access to finance.

A new multistakeholder partnership, SDG500, was launched to mobilize $500 million towards achieving the SDGs in emerging markets through a series of six blended finance funds.

A Cohesive and Sustainable Fourth Industrial Revolution

On Emerging Technologies

The Forum partnered with a community of 40 central banks, international organizations, academic researchers and financial institutions to create a framework to help central banks evaluate, design and potentially deploy Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

The Forum, in collaboration with 100 stakeholders, produced the Empowering AI Toolkit to help board members better understand the positive and negative implications of deploying artificial intelligence.

Partners of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Global Network, including Brazil, Colombia, Japan and Saudi Arabia, expanded their commitment to ensuring responsible and ethical governance of smart city technologies through the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance on Technology Governance, led by the World Economic Forum.

The World Economic Forum’s Global AI Council, launched in 2019, collaborated with UNICEF to create guidelines for AI-supported toys for the under sevens, as well as identifying young people under the age of 18 to sit on a Global AI Youth Council.

On Cybersecurity

A group of private-sector leaders from major cybersecurity companies, services providers and global corporations along with leading law enforcement agencies, Interpol and Europol, agreed to work together with the Forum through 2020 to foster a global public-private alliance against cybercrime.

A group of telecommunications stakeholders endorsed new principles combatting high-volume cyberattacks that could protect up to 1 billion consumers in 180 countries.

A community of key stakeholders from international organizations, government and business was formed to reinforce cyber resilience in global aviation.

The theme of the 50th Annual Meeting, “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World”, could not be more relevant. The moral imperative that weighs upon us to be custodians of the planet for the sake of the next generation implies that we must act today. As the Forum celebrates its 50th anniversary, it looks ahead rather than backwards, to improve the state of the World for the next 50 years, by continuing to offer its platform to advance the common interest.

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Environment

The race to zero emissions, and why the world depends on it

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A host of countries have recently announced major commitments to significantly cut their carbon emissions, promising to reach “net zero” in the coming years. The term is becoming a global rallying cry, frequently cited as a necessary step to successfully beat back climate change, and the devastation it is causing.

What is net zero and why is it important?

Put simply, net zero means we are not adding new emissions to the atmosphere. Emissions will continue, but will be balanced by absorbing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere.

Practically every country has joined the Paris Agreement on climate change, which calls for keeping the global temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial era levels. If we continue to pump out the emissions that cause climate change, however, temperatures will continue to rise well beyond 1.5, to levels that threaten the lives and livelihoods of people everywhere.

This is why a growing number of countries are making commitments to achieve carbon neutrality, or “net zero” emissions within the next few decades. It’s a big task, requiring ambitious actions starting right now.

Net zero by 2050 is the goal. But countries also need to demonstrate how they will get there. Efforts to reach net-zero must be complemented with adaptation and resilience measures, and the mobilization of climate financing for developing countries.

So how can the world move toward net zero?

The good news is that the technology exists to reach net zero – and it is affordable.

A key element is powering economies with clean energy, replacing polluting coal – and gas and oil-fired power stations – with renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar farms. This would dramatically reduce carbon emissions. Plus, renewable energy is now not only cleaner, but often cheaper than fossil fuels.

A wholesale switch to electric transport, powered by renewable energy, would also play a huge role in lowering emissions, with the added bonus of slashing air pollution in the world’s major cities. Electric vehicles are rapidly becoming cheaper and more efficient, and many countries, including those committed to net zero, have proposed plans to phase out the sale of fossil-fuel powered cars.

Other harmful emissions come from agriculture (livestock produce significant levels of methane, a greenhouse gas). These could be reduced drastically if we eat less meat and more plant-based foods. Here again, the signs are promising, such as the rising popularity of “plant-based meats” now being sold in major international fast-food chains.

What will happen to remaining emissions?

Reducing emissions is extremely important. To get to net zero, we also need to find ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Here again, solutions are at hand. The most important have existed in nature for thousands of years.

 These “nature-based solutions” include forests, peatbogs, mangroves, soil and even underground seaweed forests, which are all highly efficient at absorbing carbon. This is why huge efforts are being made around the world to save forests, plant trees, and rehabilitate peat and mangrove areas, as well as to improve farming techniques.

Who is responsible for getting to net zero?

We are all responsible as individuals, in terms of changing our habits and living in a way which is more sustainable, and which does less harm to the planet, making the kind of lifestyle changes which are highlighted in the UN’s Act Now campaign.

The private sector also needs to get in on the act and it is doing so through the UN Global Compact, which helps businesses to align with the UN’s environmental and societal goals.

It’s clear, however, that the main driving force for change will be made at a national government level, such as through legislation and regulations to reduce emissions.

Many governments are now moving in the right direction. By early 2021, countries representing more than 65 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions and more than 70 per cent of the world economy, will have made ambitious commitments to carbon neutrality. 

The European Union, Japan and the Republic of Korea, together with more than 110 other countries, have pledged carbon neutrality by 2050; China says it will do so before 2060.

Are these commitments any more than just political statements?

These commitments are important signals of good intentions to reach the goal, but must be backed by rapid and ambitious action. One important step is to provide detailed plans for action in nationally determined contributions or NDCs. These define targets and actions to reduce emissions within the next 5 to 10 years. They are critical to guide the right investments and attract enough finance.

So far, 186 parties to the Paris Agreement have developed NDCs. This year, they are expected to submit new or updated plans demonstrating higher ambition and action. Click here to see the NDC registry.

Is net zero realistic?

Yes! Especially if every country, city, financial institution and company adopts realistic plans for transitioning to net zero emissions by 2050.

The COVID-19 pandemic recovery could be an important and positive turning point. When economic stimulus packages kick in, there will be a genuine opportunity to promote renewable energy investments, smart buildings, green and public transport, and a whole range of other interventions that will help to slow climate change.

But not all countries are in the same position to affect change, are they?

That’s absolutely true. Major emitters, such as the G20 countries, which generate 80 per cent of carbon emissions, in particular, need to significantly increase their present levels of ambition and action.

Also, keep in mind that far greater efforts are needed to build resilience in vulnerable countries and for the most vulnerable people; they do the least to cause

climate change but bear the worst impacts. Resilience and adaptation action do not get the funding they need, however.

Even as they pursue net zero, developed countries must deliver on their commitment to provide $100 billion dollars a year for mitigation, adaptation and resilience in developing countries.

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Environment

EU greenhouse gas emissions fell in 2019 to the lowest level in three decades

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The Commission today adopted its annual EU Climate Action Progress Report, covering the EU’s progress in cutting greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. Greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-27 decreased by 3.7 % year-on-year, while GDP grew by 1.5%. Emissions have now been reduced by 24% compared to 1990 levels.  

Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, said: “The European Union is proving it is possible to reduce emissions and grow your economy. However, today’s report again confirms we need to step up our efforts across all sectors of the economy to reach our common goal of climate neutrality by 2050. The transition is feasible if we stick to our commitment and seize the opportunities of the recovery to reboot our economy in a greener, more resilient way and create a healthy, sustainable future for all.”

Emissions covered by the Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) saw the greatest reduction in 2019, dropping by 9.1%, or about 152 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2eq), compared to 2018. This drop was driven mainly by the power sector, where emissions fell by almost 15%, primarily due to coal-fired electricity production being replaced by electricity production from renewables and gas. Emissions from industry decreased by close to 2%. Verified emissions from aviation, which currently only cover flights within the European Economic Area, continued to grow modestly, increasing by 1%, or about 0.7 Mt CO2eq, compared to 2018. Emissions that are not covered by the EU ETS, such as those from non-ETS industry, transport, buildings, agriculture and waste, saw no significant change compared to 2018 levels.

EU expenditure on climate action, financing of green technologies, deployment of new solutions and international cooperation increased in 2019, and will see a further increase in the context of Europe’s recovery from COVID-19.

EU ETS auction revenue is an increasingly important source of climate financing. The total revenue received by Member States, the UK and EEA countries from the auctions between 2012 (the start of auctioning under the EU ETS) and mid-2020 was over €57 billion, with more than half generated in 2018 and 2019 alone. In 2019, total auction revenue exceeded €14.1 billion. Of this total, 77% will be used for climate and energy purposes, 7 percentage points higher than the 70% share reported in 2018. In addition, a growing number of EU-funded climate projects are financed through the monetisation of emission allowances via the NER 300 programme, the Innovation Fund and the Modernisation Fund.

Background

The Climate Action Progress Report “Kick-Starting the Journey Towards A Climate Neutral Europe” describes progress made by the EU and its Member States in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reporting on recent developments in EU climate policy. The report is produced by the Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action based on data submitted by Member States under the Climate Monitoring Mechanism Regulation (MMR, Regulation No 525/2013).

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Human Rights

Global Experts To Convene Online To Discuss Values In A Post-Covid World

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Leading Islamic scholars and experts from around the world, representing government and civil society will convene online to attend the seventh assembly of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies being held between the dates of December 7-9.

The Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies is led by Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, President of the Higher Academic Council at the new Mohammed bin Zayed University for Humanities in Abu Dhabi, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. 

The Forum draws upon religious leadership and expertise to enter into productive conversations with academics, politicians, economists, and scientists about futures that are more peaceful, more secure, and more inter-connected for all humankind.

The title of this years Forum is “Human Values After Corona: Reviving Virtue in Times of Crisis.” It will examine how cooperation between nations, their people, and followers of the world religions can promote global peace and the welfare of all. The conference will emphasize the commonality or shared nature of humankind’s destiny at this crucial time. The conference will be unparalleled in its breadth this year hosting the most diverse panel of speakers spanning cultural, academic, governmental, and civic society fields in open conversation and with a shared commitment to positively influence the crisis’ present unfolding and alleviation.

The Forum will also discuss the healthcare dimensions of this pandemic and its effects upon mental health, especially given that the preservation of the human intellect is one of the overarching concerns of Islamic sacred law. Moreover, the guests will discuss how humanity may join hands across cultures and religions to create a new world that is human-centric and which prioritizes humanity’s wellbeing over other interests. Participants will also discuss the present economic crisis and the ethics of solidarity, as well as prospects for how the New Alliance of Virtue – signed by representatives of the world’s religions in Abu Dhabi last year – may be utilized in the process of our world’s upcoming ‘rebirth’.

Notable attendees will include:  the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Ambassador Sam Brownback, US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis Chief Rabbi of the UK, Professor Azza Karam,, Mr. Robert Wexler, Shaykh Mustafa Ceric, HE Noor-Ul-Haq Qadri, From Michael Sandel, Prof Sir Michael Marmot, Dr William Vendley,  and Professor Melissa Rogers, Rehman Chishti MP, and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf of Zaytuna College.

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