The Sustainability Buzz: Highlights from a Transformative Week in New York

Published: 26 Sep 2023
Author: Peter Bakker
Type: Insight

The city of New York was host to what is quickly becoming the biggest week in Sustainability on the annual calendar. The town was bursting with leaders coming to town to make speeches at the UN or take part in many of the roundtables, workshops and bilateral meetings, bringing traffic to a deadlock and making hotel room prices skyrocket.

Next to Climate Week, the UN organized the General Assembly meeting, the SDG Summit and the Climate Ambition Summit. We are at the halfway point towards the 2030 SDGs and only 14% of the targets are on track to be delivered. The first Global Stocktake report on Climate brought no better news. The world is nowhere near decarbonizing fast enough.

Businesses took center stage as the world turned to them for solutions. Together with partners and our members,  organized more than 25 events showcasing the transformative power of collaboration across value chains and drawing in a remarkable crowd of 1,400 registered attendees. Notably, almost half of these participants were accomplished leaders representing 169 member companies. 

The launch of the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) in the New York Stock Exchange was a historic moment with recommendations for businesses and investors to integrate the impacts and dependencies on Nature into their decision-making. WBCSD’s Roadmaps to Nature Positive combined with the 12 sector actions that B4N, WBCSD and WEF offer companies the tools to now get engaged with their biodiversity footprint.

The one topic we heard consistently coming back is that for a business to be the trusted solutions partner of the world, it needs to be transparent about its performance towards its commitments. Transformation and Accountability are the two keywords that will define the next stage of the sustainability journey of business and its solutions for the world.

Let me end these short reflections on the past week in New York by echoing some of the words that the incoming COP28 President, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, spoke during his impressive speech in the closing session of the Climate Ambition Summit : “I invite everyone to come to COP28 with hope, to come with optimism and the will to deliver real actionable, tangible results. Together let’s turn pledges into projects; let’s turn ambition into action. Let’s be brave and bold; let’s go after the gigatons, not after each other. Let us activate a truly global response to the global stocktake. Let’s unite, let’s act and let’s deliver.”

I look forward to seeing all our members in Dubai on 28-29 November for the WBCSD Council Meeting, followed by the COP28 from November 30 to December 12.

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