Insider perspective: A post-Davos forethought – Getting sustainability done

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29 January, 2020


Insights from the CEO



Peter Bakker

Last week, more than 2,800 leaders from around the world were brought together by the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The theme – “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World” – gave a clear sign that sustainability has now made it firmly to the center of the debates among world leaders in this snowy mountain village, and sessions were held on nature, climate change, food systems, ESGs, TCFD and circular economy. None of the CEOs in Davos will have missed the urgency of the challenges, supported by the Global Risk Report in which environmental risks dominate the top 5 most likely and impactful risks for the first time in its 15 years of publication, as well as the Edelman Trust Barometer that clearly added the social dimension of inequity and the fears surrounding the future of work causing trust being under pressure.

One of the key outcomes out of Davos came from the International Business Council (IBC) meeting. They have published a report with a push towards standardizing the non-financial reporting from business, by selecting 22 ESG indicators. As I wrote at the start of Davos, this standardization of ESGs, linked to the push to set science-based targets and make Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) mandatory for business will create the triangle to fix capitalism and ultimately make sustainable business more successful. WBCSD will be your implementation partner for these important developments.

So, the theme and programming of Davos were an ideal backdrop for WBCSD – in our 25th year – to host a large number of sessions (click here for the session summaries) where in-depth conversations on the actions that business must implement were debated. What do we do when it comes down to action? What do concrete actions look like? And how can business lead that space? Real progress was made thanks to the great inputs from the visiting CEOs that were fully committed to taking pre-competitive actions and solutions on board.

Yet, despite the great programming and progress, the real work only starts now. CEOs and other guests will come back with new ideas, but how much of that will stick when their daily urgent matters take over? It left me with the following thought: CEOs go to Davos to talk about sustainability, they will come to WBCSD to get it done.

Stay tuned for our refreshed shared Vision 2050 that will be launched later this year and will restate the baseline for business action and leadership for the decade to come.