Pictured (from left): Sonja Gibbs, Managing Director and Head of Sustainable Finance Institute of International Finance (IIF); Lori Kerr, CEO of FinDev Canada
Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in several interesting events in and around Climate Week in New York. The discussions were important as we all consider the work needed to keep 1.5 alive and live up to the necessary ambition under the Paris Agreement. Reflecting on the week, I see a few essential takeaways to share.
1. The value of an “affinity environment”
Climate Week is, in many respects, what I would call an affinity environment. Everyone is there with a shared sense of purpose as we coalesce around the climate crisis challenges. Importantly, however, this does not mean there are no differing views. While we are all aligned on the problem, the week allows for sharing many different perspectives. Those perspectives help us develop a more holistic understanding of the issues at play and what the development of real solutions need to look like. Solutions start with conversations, and Climate Week creates the opportunity for those conversations to occur. Although conversations alone are not enough, the affinity environment is the forum for discussions that lead to action.
2. The role of the private sector is top of mind
A shift has occurred over the past decade in which the private sector is now seen as an essential partner on the path to meaningful action. This theme was conveyed time and time again during the week, with practical discussions on how best to leverage the capital and innovation that the private sector brings. This includes how blended finance can be judiciously used to catalyze the private sector, but also the recognition that for private capital to be meaningfully deployed, other actors have roles to play in areas such as policy and regulatory framing, and project preparation. Our ability to employ systems thinking to achieve is vital.
3. There are no silver bullets
Let’s be clear. There is no panacea to the climate challenges in front of us. If such a solution existed, we would have deployed it by now. We know that we will need many solutions on the table and a wide range of partners around the table. The challenges are that complex. We can choose to allow that to feel daunting, or we can choose to have that feel like an opportunity. I’m on team opportunity.
4. …and speaking of teams, we all have roles to play in the fight against climate change.
Collectively, we must start thinking of ourselves as Climate and Nature Team players. And like any successful team, we must have clear goals that we all agree on. For us, this means finding ways to enable climate mitigation and adaptation to support the Paris Agreement. It means embracing nature-based solutions as part of our toolkit. It means investing in climate-resilient infrastructure and climate-smart agriculture. It means ensuring that issues such as loss and damage are given the proper attention and financial commitment.
We also must know our position because we all have roles to play. This is a system where all parts need clarity of role and expectation. If you are in government, you need to set clear expectations and ensure a regulatory and policy environment is in place to realize those expectations. This also means developing incentives and penalties to drive behaviours. If you are a multilateral development bank or a development finance institution, it's crucial to ensure that your capabilities and capital are efficiently utilized to engage and retain the private sector's involvement. If you represent the private sector, you must articulate your requirements from governments and development finance entities to enable your capital and innovative contributions to the field. And if you are a member of the public – civil society organizations and individually, you need to bring your passion and your ability to hold everyone to account – make your expectations clear.
The team can’t afford to have any of us on the sidelines. Game on!
I’d like to thank the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), Climate Policy Initiative and The Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance, Convergence, the Climate Action Organization, the Africa Finance Corporation, and the United Nations Development Programme for inviting me to be a part of the various discussions throughout the week together, as we head into COP28 this December.