11/21/2022 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/21/2022 05:29
The twenty-seventh Conference of Parties ("COP"), the annual event where all UN governments, businesses and organisations meet to discuss the state of the climate, has just drawn to a close. More than 40,000 attendees arrived and left sunny Sharm-El-Sheikh, with infinite reflections on their experiences. Since returning to Amsterdam, I've been asked, how was COP? Was it a success? The answer depends on what you consider COP's purpose of being.
COP27 differentiates itself as the COP of collaboration and implementation. The focus was squarely on action, moving from funding commitments to flows, assets to flows and pledges to plans.
It's been a stocktake of progress on climate targets and promises previously made. Businesses, governments, and youth leaders spoke candidly - and sometimes emotionally - of what is and isn't working.
As I rushed in my sneakers through the COP maze of events and activists, there was a pervasive focus on action and problem-solving. I want to share my three top takeaways from the exciting week the Naspers and Prosus team spent at the summit.
Tech can illuminate a pathway to net zero
Tech can be critical to help societies mitigate and adapt to climate change.
An example of technology enabling a reduction in emissions is the delivery of education and learning via digital platforms. A core segment for us, edtech helps to mitigate the impacts of climate change as it substitutes physical with digital learning, reducing the need for physical buildings and transport to and from schools. Communities with no access to education need to embrace opportunities for edtech as they adapt to climate change. For example, last month, the floods in Pakistan affected nearly 27,000 schools, leaving more than two million students without access to education for weeks. This raised the question at COP27: Will students in countries most vulnerable to climate impacts need to embrace edtech to continue learning?
Another example is in the manufacture, delivery, and consumption of food. COP had an official pavilion for food systems for the first time in its history. The area focused on one urgent question: How to feed more than eight billion people in a changing climate without worsening the problem? The events and dialogue at the pavilion called for the need for technology to help shrink the agriculture sector's environmental footprint ("mitigation"), to develop low-cost alternatives to protein that meets future demand-supply shocks ("adaptation"), and to scale digital payments to sustain the ecosystem's service models.
Businesses can take charge of implementation
I heard a development bank president say, "You know, businesspeople just cut right to the chase," continuing to say: "You guys make decisions very fast. You look at the data and the challenges. There's nothing like 'We can't solve a problem.''
His words came with a confronting reality: countries are behind schedule on their commitments to keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In short, the world needs a green, low-carbon economy. The transition will require an investment of trillions of dollars. Delivering such funding will require a transformation of the global financial system and intense engagement between governments, central banks, commercial banks, institutional investors and others in the financial ecosystem.
As governments debate goals and pledges, the business community is showing results by answering the simple questions: How will we get there? How much will it cost? And how will we pay for it? And then taking action.
As of early 2022, more than 2000 companies across 70 countries have set science-based targets approved by the SBTi - an organisation that ensures that companies' targets translate into action that is consistent with achieving a net-zero world by 2050. The publicly listed companies on the SBTi list represent more than one-third of global market capitalisation - positioning businesses at a central implementation role to net zero.
Sustainability is a team sport
And it's positively competitive.
COP27 showed that from fashion to telecommunications, competitors and industry peers are increasingly forging partnerships to solve shared challenges.
For Prosus and Naspers, collaboration is a precursor to delivering a meaningful and effective pathway to net zero, particularly in the diverse and challenging conditions in which we operate.
And so, intending to inspire collaborative measures across the tech sector, we hosted an event titled Just and Fair Climate Action, bringing together investors, operators, consultancy firms, regulators, and industry bodies. Each stakeholder shared experiences and insights in developing and implementing bold climate action plans recognising sector- and country-specific circumstances. And that enables climate transition pathways that are just and fair.
Climate action is ongoing. It requires extraordinary collaboration. And it requires a proper mix of capabilities to meet targets and develop inclusive and innovative solutions for the next generations.
As one can imagine, the agenda for the days we attended were extensive. We connected with inspiring individuals, businesses, and non-profits, and around every corner lay another thought-provoking discussion or challenging debate. COPs have and will serve as meeting points to push boundaries and progress.
As you can imagine, the agenda for the week was extensive. We met many inspiring individuals and businesses, and another thought-provoking discussion or challenging debate lay around every corner. If anyone would like to learn more about COP27, please feel free to reach out at anytime.
Kristie de Groot
Sr. Sustainability Business Partner at Prosus & Naspers.