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These are the key takeaways of the Green Goals Summit 2023
The Green Goals Summit sparked a sense of urgency and called for swift action in the pursuit of sustainability.
In an era defined by environmental challenges, a collective awakening has begun. The urgency to confront our shared vulnerabilities and shape a sustainable future has taken center stage, propelled by engaging discussions and inspired initiatives. Experts from various fields have unveiled a sobering truth: the climate crisis looms large, demanding immediate action.
At the Green Goals Summit, experts shared a glimmer of hope—an understanding that viable solutions hold the key to transformative change.
COP28 in November is a critical moment for urgent action, marking the first evaluation since the Paris Climate Accords. Experts anticipate tough conversations and emphasize tangible solutions and accountability. The outcomes will shape our global efforts to combat climate change.
Inspired by the environmentally conscious practices of previous generations, the experts passionately championed the revival of a lifestyle rooted in the principles of the circular economy—embracing reuse, repurpose, and repair as guiding principles. By adopting this mindset, the experts argued that we could safeguard our resources and create a sustainable impact that endures.
Sustainability leaders from leading companies passionately urged to include all stakeholders, including governments, the private sector, communities, and youth, in decision-making processes. Recognizing the importance of diverse perspectives, they emphasized the need for creative solutions that address various challenges and needs. Furthermore, they highlighted the significance of engaging in meaningful conversations with the next generation, as their unique insights and innovative thinking hold the key to finding novel, out-of-the-box solutions to mitigate the climate crisis.
SCALE OF THE PROBLEM
The experts enlightened the audience about the profound gravity of the situation and the imperative for immediate and decisive action to safeguard our planet from global warming. The summit commenced with a compelling address by Shargiil Bashir, Executive Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer of First Abu Dhabi Bank Official, who candidly depicted progress toward achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
“Unfortunately, we are not “on track” for net zero. We are not on the path to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2050. We are already at 1.3 degrees and will cross 2.3 degrees by 2050 if we continue like this”, warned Bashir.
Resonating with the concerns expressed by Bashir, Ayman Ismail, Vice President of Government Affairs, Strategy & Sustainability at Schneider Electric, drew attention to the alarming escalation of global greenhouse gas emissions. Despite widespread discussions on climate change solutions taking place worldwide, Ismail underscored the unsettling reality that emissions continue to surge unabated, emphasizing the urgent need for decisive action.
“When we look at the greenhouse gas emission in the last two years, 2021 and 2022, it has increased. While we are on the trajectory we need to decrease emission, the opposite has happened,” he added.
Vikram Krishna, Co-Founder of Sacred Groves, shed even more light on the immense magnitude of the problem. He emphasized the alarming reality by stating, “In the mere three hours during this conference, an astonishing three and a half thousand acres of natural forests will have been irreversibly lost. Such is the scale of the problem we are grappling with.” Krishna’s poignant statement further underscored the urgent need for immediate and concerted action to address our pressing environmental challenges.
NEED FOR BOLD STEPS AND YOUTH ENGAGEMENT
Hanan Al Yafei, Executive Director of the Responsible Investing Unit at Mubadala, underscored the significance of actively involving the youth in meaningful dialogues to cultivate innovative solutions. Recognizing their pivotal role, Al Yafei emphasized that engaging with the younger generation would drive the transformative change necessary to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
“There is a sense of urgency that the next generation is feeling, driving many conversions. The more we engage with the next generation in these conversations, the better the outcomes. They are pushing for solutions that might not be something we would have considered a few years ago,” she said.
Christina Struller, Vice President of Corporate Affairs – ISMEA, UPS seemed optimistic about COP28, hoping it would be a ‘solution-driven’ COP. She further spoke about the need to include youth in decision-making and address the world’s most vulnerable communities who, despite being least responsible for global emissions, were the hardest hit by climate change and recurring natural calamities and scarcities.
“We expect a vibrant and solution-driven COP28 which will include the youth from the beginning. If political will and stakeholders come together, it can be very transformative. I believe that coming together and agreeing on something, especially the big-ticket items, will help us enhance global commitments and scale them,” said Christina.
Wael Ismail, Vice President, Corporate Affairs MENA and South Asia, PepsiCo, also reiterated youth involvement for solutions and said that while it was important to be at COP 28, that should not be the sole objective of the global conference. He said that it was even more important to take action to drive the change from the Conference to further the sustainability goals and recognize the power of youth.
“We’re focusing on how youth can help us drive tangible, locally relevant, sustainable solutions. So we look forward to partnering with the UAE at COP28 to put more spotlight on the youth and drive innovation to help us accelerate our journey collectively,” he said.
CHANGE IN MINDSET AND BOLD ACTIONS
Embracing sustainability and transitioning to a circular economy entails drawing inspiration from the practices of previous generations. These wise predecessors exemplified a mindset of reuse, repair, and repurpose rather than haphazardly discarding items into landfills. They adopted a sustainable approach, extending the lifespan of products and utilizing them judiciously, thereby setting a good precedent for lasting environmental stewardship.
“Concept of circularity is a mindset shift; our parents used to do it. It’s not just the big things that we have to do, but all about how you stop doing more harm to the planet and doing more good,” said Priya Sarma Mathur, Senior Sustainability Head at Unilever, Chair of the Circular Packaging Association.
Andrea Di Gregorio, Executive Director of the Energy Efficiency and Renewables (Reem) Office at Ras Al Khaimah Municipality, highlighted the limitation of individual energy savings. Di Gregorio emphasized that even if each person were to save a mere 1% of energy, the cumulative effect would only amount to a 1% reduction in global energy consumption, which falls significantly short of what is needed. In alignment with the concerns expressed by Bashir, Ismail, and Krishna, Di Gregorio advocated for the necessity of “bold moves” and decisive actions to achieve the desired results in addressing the pressing challenges of our time.
Emphasizing the imperative for a substantial shift in mindset, he firmly stated, “We need to change our mindset. We need to make bold moves and do significant things.” Highlighting the need for decisive action, he advocated for initiatives that carry substantial weight and create a meaningful impact in our collective journey toward sustainability.
As the conference drew close, the experts made a passionate plea: We must act now to avoid disastrous consequences. The summit’s rallying cry echoed loud and clear, urging everyone to come together and take decisive steps to tackle the climate crisis and create a sustainable future.