Potsdam (Germany), 21-23 June 2023: The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) brought together 20 Heads of Climate from multinational companies for the inaugural WBCSD Head of Climate Base Camp. The three-day gathering, facilitated by Thomas Bruhn from the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) in Potsdam, was carefully designed as an immersive experience blending reflection with effective peer problem-solving. The event also aimed at fostering mutually supportive peer relationships between Heads of Climate, as well as enabling each participant to create a personalized action plan to effectively drive their company towards net zero.
"Truly inspirational discussions in all aspects of sustainability and climate" Marie Johansson Ph. D., Sr. Director, Product Sustainability, Colgate-Palmolive Co
Immersive dialogues to tackle complexity
Over the course of this experience, participants successfully identified strategic roadblocks and opportunities, with the support of their peers, in a trusted space of shared learning. The visit to the renowned Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), where the participants engaged with Director Johan Rockström, former UNFCCC Senior Director Martin Frick, as well as with a cohort of climate innovators, provided expert insights which enriched the ongoing dialogue. The participants gained a deeper understanding of the urgent nature of climate change, its implications for businesses, and the critical need for collaboration.
“For me, the team created the perfect atmosphere to move beyond “business as usual” thinking, to reflect deeply, to connect meaningfully with peers – for all of us to drive toward the concrete actions our organizations need if we hope to mitigate this crisis.” Kara Fulcher, Director of Sustainability (North America), Michelin
Building communities of action is key
The main themes emerging from the discussions centered around managing expectations amidst a rapidly evolving landscape, aligning decarbonization efforts with commercial value propositions, enhancing collaboration with internal and external stakeholders, and developing personal effectiveness as change agents. Through peer-to-peer exchanges, participants were encouraged to take time to reflect on the nature of their challenges and emerging patterns, as well as on how to cope with resistance and overcome barriers. The resounding reminder from Johan Rockström that "1.5C is not a target, but a limit" inspired the participants to challenge the obstacles and prioritize solutions through individual, practical action plans. It became resoundingly clear that there is a need for further dedicated spaces within organizations to foster reflection and enable personal transformation.
“Encouraging, inspiring, and fun experience mixed with moments of calm pensiveness, deep connection with the other participants but also exhaustion in light of everything we have to tackle in the realm of climate action." Lilli-Jane Popp, Net Zero Program Lead, SAP
Stay tuned for updates for the next edition of the WBCSD Head of Climate Base Camp, and be part of the movement shaping a net zero world. Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the next edition and WBCSD’s work on Climate Action.