OVER 700,000 individuals from around the world are set to converge in Dubai to participate in the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as the 2023 Conference of the Parties (COP28).
In the lead-up to the conference, the COP28 UAE president Dr Sultan Al Jaber has openly expressed the ambition to make this the most inclusive and consequential COP to date.
While much of this effort has elevated historically underrepresented communities, a lesser-known determination of COP28 is about transforming how the conference process engages with the private sector.
From Dec 1-2, COP28 will feature the biggest gathering of business and philanthropy devoted to solving climate change in history, at the inaugural Business & Philanthropy Climate Forum.
Held in parallel with the World Climate Action Summit, the forum will bring together 1,000 heads of business and philanthropy – alongside policymakers and other stakeholders – to spur tangible climate action.
While COP has traditionally been viewed as a political process, opening COP28 with this new forum will set an entirely new tone for the conference.
To expedite the pathway to transformative action, the forum will include a set of 22 actions that chief executive officers and philanthropists can promptly implement, to provide an accessible route for the private sector to move beyond declarations, into execution.
These include game-changing climate initiatives and breakthrough technologies, expanding indigenous peoples’ access to investment, accelerating food supply chain management across the Global South, expediting technology transfer, de-risking green investments, enhancing natural capital, supporting green SMEs and start-ups, and increasing investments in resilience for vulnerable communities around the world.
From the outset, COP28 has established global partnerships with major players to help galvanise business communities worldwide.
These major players include Sustainable Markets Initiative, International Finance Corporation, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Economic Forum, Asian Development Bank, Africa Finance Corporation, Inter-American Development Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, World Business Council for Sustainable Development and XPRIZE Foundation.
Fixing climate finance is also a top priority of COP28, as global investments of over US$3 tril per year will be required to enable the world to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
The private sector could play the most consequential role in generating the multiplier effect required to scale investments from billions to trillions.
For far too long, business and philanthropy have been relegated to the periphery of global climate negotiations, often dismissed as a part of the problem.
This represents a missed opportunity as private capital markets have more than doubled over the last decade, reaching US$23tril, with philanthropic capital alone accounting for US$1tril flowing through the global financial system every year.
Philanthropic capital can often be deployed in more flexible, risk-tolerant and patient ways than other forms of finance. When combined, these capital flows are key to unlocking accessible, affordable and targeted solutions to closing the climate financing gap.
Industry players should not neglect the massive additional contributions that businesses can make to the climate action agenda through their networks, capacity to innovate and engagement with local communities.
This is why COP28’s Business & Philanthropy Forum will support governments, businesses and philanthropists to work together, collaborating where they can, while playing to their respective strengths.
Success cannot be achieved by any single stakeholder in isolation. It is only through the combination of capabilities and capital across these sectors that outcomes with the necessary scale and timeframe can be realised.
Business and philanthropy hold the greatest untapped potential for accelerating the implementation of the world’s climate and nature goals. It is now imperative to mobilise the world’s private capital to serve the planet.
Article by COP28 Business & Philanthropy special representative and Crescent Enterprises chief executive officer Badr Jafar.