This year's World Economic Forum has brought together world leaders to dicuss the ongoing economic crisis and shape the global post-crisis agenda, with a focus on economic reform and climate change.
The meeting, which takes place in Davos (Switzerland) until 1 st February, brings together more than 2,500 people – a number unparalleled in the Forum's forty-year history – including 40 heads of state, senior UN officials, including the Secretary General, and 1,400 business leaders and civil society representatives.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), is urging delegates to embrace a transition to a low carbon Green Economy.
Davos comes in advance of a meeting next week with senior economists in New York where Mr Steiner will discuss and flesh out an a response the the immediate economic crisis via UNEP's Global Green New Deal initiative.
The report will be launched at the upcoming UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum taking place in Nairobi from 16 to 20 February.
The Global Green New Deal, seeks to mobilize and refocus the global economy towards investment in clean technologies and natural infrastructure to combat climate change and trigger a green employment boom, which may provide sustainable solutions to benefit both the economy and the environment in the twenty-first century.
So far the US, China, the Republic of Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan have announced 'green deals' and the G-20 meeting in April in London is looking to a low carbn future.
Catalyzing Resources for a Low Carbon Economy
One of the sessions in Davos on Wednesday, entitled 'Catalysing Resources for a Low Carbon Economy', brought together experts from industry, finance and policy to discuss practical innovations that can help stimulate the finance and technology flows required to make low-carbon investments scalable and create a viable carbon market.
In his address to participants at the session, Achim Steiner pointed out the importance of tackling the issue of climate finance in order to help the private sector play a more dynamic role in mobilizing the necessary international investment and technology flows needed to help move the world to a low-carbon economy. He said it was necessary to encourage public-private initiatives that aim at helping international institutions address finance and technology issues more adequately.
Speakers at the session included former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Yvo De Boer, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Robert B. Zoellick, President of the World Bank Group.
Shaping the Message About Climate Change
The role of the media in raising awareness about climate change in the build-up to the UN Climate talks in Copenhagen, was discussed on Thursday 29 in a workshop entitled 'Shaping the Message about Climate Change'.
The workshop brought together leaders from the media and entertainment industry as well as other business sectors, international organizations, academia and NGOs to discuss improved communications around the climate change agenda.
The aim of the workshop is to gain consensus and support for a global communications programme which will be rolled out during 2009 with the support of the UN Secretary-General, and that will build momentum for a positive outcome at the UN climate meeting in Copenhagen in 2009.
Addressing the session, Steiner referred to the UN-wide campaign 'UNite to Combat Climate Change', launched in November 2008, which calls on UN entities, governments, civil society, businesses and industries to support the call for a post-2012 definitive agreement on climate change. The campaign urges world leaders to reach an inclusive, comprehensive and ratifiable deal during the Copenhagen talks in December 2009.
The session included special addresses by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo De Boer and London School of Economics expert Nicholas Stern.
Aviation, Travel & Tourism's Route to Copenhagen project
The global travel & tourism sector can proactively contribute solutions to the twin challenges of climate change and poverty alleviation. By providing an overview of climate change impact on the entire travel & tourism sector, the Forum's Climate Change project aims to highlight how governments, industry and consumers can collectively make the travel & tourism sector and destinations more sustainable. The key project findings and recommendations will be presented at the UN Conference on Climate Change that will take place in Copenhagen in December 2009.
The session brought together the CEOs of leading businesses in the travel & tourism sector, policy-makers, climate change experts, and national regulators from developed and developing countries to discuss the innovative cross-sector emissions reduction opportunities, highlighting the key implementation challenges and the overall CO2 emissions abatement impact.
Special Guests included the President of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias Sánchez, Achim Steiner, the Governor of Rio de Janeiro, Sérgio de Oliveira Cabral, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, and former US Vice-President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore.
In the course of the next few days, the environment and climate change will continue to feature high on the Davos agenda, culminating in a session entitled "Building Leadership Momentum Towards Copenhagen".
This high-level session, which will be attended by the Secretary General of the United Nations, senior government representatives, business leaders and climate experts, will explore how the private sector can best support the climate discussions of the major economies over the next twelve months.