[Exclusive] Intergovernmental Cooperation Is Needed to Address Climate Crisis, UNGC Assistant Secretary-General Says
Wang Jing
DATE:  Sep 18 2023
/ SOURCE:  Yicai

(Yicai) Sept. 18 -- A strong intergovernmental cooperation is needed to achieve all the climate crisis goals, Sanda Ojiambo, assistant secretary-general of the United Nations Global Compact, told Yicai in a recent interview. 

Below are excerpts from the interview:

Yicai: What sort of renewed political determinations and impetus will countries bring to the climate ambition summit this year? 

Sanda Ojiambo: It is really important to have the Climate Ambition Summit this year. It also comes at a time when we're doing the Sustainable Development Goal Summit, which marks a reflection on the midpoint of the sustainable development goals. 

As we enter the Climate Ambition Summit, there's a real awareness that we're falling far behind in keeping that goal of 1.5 degrees alive. The trends and the data show that we're closer to 2 degrees and beyond. And we've seen what that means for the planet and people. We're also very much aware through a lot of the discussion that has been happening, and also reflecting on issues such as the Bridgetown Initiative that has been led by the prime minister of Barbados and other leaders that there is the need to mobilize a significant amount of financing to address climate. 

Reflecting back on the climate conferences, it's very clear that we do need strong intergovernmental cooperation to be able to drive forward all of the agreements, the ambition, and the desire to address the climate crisis.

We know the mitigation call to keep the 1.5 degrees alive. But we've also heard governments come together and rally around completing the commitments straight to the adaptation fund so that countries can adopt and adapt their resilience and their sustainable and long-term approaches to climate. 

Yicai: In your speech in 2020, you emphasized that sustainability can boost companies' resilience. At that time, only 4 percent of appointments reflected this commitment. How has this changed? 

Ojiambo: It's so interesting comparing the world in 2020 to where we are three years later. At that point in time, I spoke about the fact that CEOs' performance is not necessarily judged by their attainment or their advocacy for sustainability outcomes and achievements, but what has happened over time. We conducted surveys of CEOs around the world, and in our most recent one, polling over 2,600 CEOs, we got some very interesting and stark data. CEOs around the world, North, South, East, West, large companies, SMEs, all stated that the top 10 challenges they were facing in business were no longer related to business. It wasn't about their business product or their brand love, or how they sat in the market. It was about things external to business, the climate crisis, inflation and hyperinflation, social injustice, how to address all of the changing regulatory environment and the impact that has on business, supply chain, sustainability and resiliency, and the threats of another global pandemic.

So what CEOs are now facing is not only unique to a country, to the economy, to a business, but really bring the world together, as we've seen in the last three years. The last three years have been characterized by what we call the three Cs: Conflict, Covid, and Climate. CEOs are feeling that they're in positions where they have to respond not only to business but to the shareholders, the customers, and citizens on these issues. So, whereas perhaps performance might not formally be measured by that, CEOs are feeling that their performance as a CEO is intricately tied to being able to address issues above and beyond what their business calls for. 

Yicai: The Belt and Road Initiative has received active support and participation from African countries since its launch, with the global African business initiative focusing on energy, digital transformation, and inclusive growth. What key roles can Chinese businesses play in this process? 

Ojiambo: The global African business initiative, or GABI, is at its second year of convening towards the end of the high-level week in New York. GABI is a really important platform for demonstrating the opportunities for business, trade, and investment with the private sector in Africa, but also demonstrating that the African private sector is ready to do business in Africa and also in the world. 

We talk about transitions, the climate transition, the energy transition, the digital transition, none of that can happen without the active engagement of the African continent and its private sector. And indeed, China's been a big partner, particularly on infrastructural projects, on the African continent and other business-led investments, and so we're very keen to be able to strengthen the links between the Chinese private sector and financial and investors and the African continent because we believe that in the true spirit of multi-stakeholder multilateral relationships there is a real opportunity for doing inclusive, sustainable, resilient business with the African continent. What Africa is saying is that it's open for business, it's open for investment, and there is adequate resource, skill set, manpower, strong business, and strong African businesses to bring to the table as well.

Editor: Futura Costaglione

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Keywords:   Climate Crisis,United Nations Global Compact