Top 10 Sustainability Stories From World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017

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This year, the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting that was held from 17 to 20 January 2017 in Davos gathered 3,000 participants. The main theme of Davos 2017 meeting was Responsive and responsible leadership with a focus on 4 key leadership challenges for 2017:  strengthening global collaboration, revitalizing economic growth, reforming capitalism and preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.


As Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, explained, “The world around us is changing at unprecedented speed. At this tipping point, our traditional concepts of society, meaningful employment and the nation state are challenged, and many understandably feel insecure or even threatened. A new model of responsive and responsible leadership is needed to allow us to address the challenges the world faces, from security to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with long-term, action-oriented thinking and solidarity on a national and global level.”


As a result, major discussions at Annual Meeting revolved around key question: “How can leaders be responsive to the genuine frustration of people left behind by globalized market capitalism, in a responsible way that offers workable, fair and sustainable solutions?”


The programme of this year’s meeting included over 200 sessions focused on social inclusion and development. Davos leaders also responded to one of the most pressing questions of our time: “How can we avoid a climate change catastrophe?”


A number of partnerships and initiatives aimed to curb climate change and achieve Sustainable Development Goals were launched.


Here are top 10 sustainability stories from World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2017:


1. $400 Million Fund Launched in Davos to Stop Tropical Deforestation and Boost Farming

The Government of Norway announced fund that will raise $400 million by 2020 and will kick-start investments in deforestation-free agriculture in countries that are working to reduce their forest and peat degradation. The fund aims to protect over 5 million hectares of forests and peatlands by 2020, equivalent to the size of Costa Rica.


2. New Partnership Aims to Protect World’s $2.5 Trillion Ocean Economy

The World Economic and the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute announced a partnership to boost multistakeholder cooperation to help achieve goal 14 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals: to conserve and sustainably use the oceans and marine resources.


3. Thirteen leading energy, transport and industry companies have launched a global initiative to voice a united vision and long-term ambition for hydrogen to foster the energy transition

The ‘Hydrogen Council’ is determined to position hydrogen among the key solutions of the energy transition. The ‘Hydrogen Council’ is currently made up of 13 CEOs and Chairpersons from various industries and energy companies committed to help achieve the ambitious goal of reaching the 2 degrees Celsius target as agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The international companies currently involved are: Air Liquide, Alstom, Anglo American, BMW GROUP, Daimler, ENGIE, Honda, Hyundai Motor, Kawasaki, Royal Dutch Shell, The Linde Group, Total and Toyota. The Council is led by two Co-Chairs from different geographies and sectors, currently represented by Air Liquide and Toyota.


4. GoodWeave International, another social enterprise, announced a new international programme, Sourcing Freedom, to stop modern slavery in supply chains.


5. 100 leading businesses signed the Compact for Responsive and Responsible Leadership: A Roadmap for Sustainable Long-Term Growth and Opportunity. The Compact was developed with the Forum’s International Business Council which will now develop a framework which will allow the measurement of a long-term approach.


6. Social Entrepreneur Gary White of, co-founded with Matt Damon, announced a major new $1.2 million partnership with Stella Artois to help provide clean water to 3.5 million people.


7. Industry Rallies Behind Plan to Recycle 70% of Plastic Packaging Globally

Over 40 industry leaders endorsed a global action plan on plastic packaging production, use and after-use. The plan, laid out in a new report, The New Plastics Economy: Catalysing Action launched by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, would see global recycling rates for plastic packaging grow from just 14% currently to 70%.


8. City of Davos and specialist recycling collection company TerraCycle launched an innovative collection and recycling programme for cigarette butts. Thanks to this partnership, people in Davos can now recycle their cigarette butts by extinguishing and placing them in easily accessible and well-marked cigarette ashtrays located at public locations along the main roads of the city.


9. Partnership Launched to Increase Transparency and Traceability Across Supply Chains and Meet Zero-Deforestation Commitments

20 of the world’s largest commodity producers, traders, manufacturers, consultants and retailers launched a new partnership with research institutions and banks to monitor deforestation and manage sustainability from farm to customer. The partnership will focus on building a global decision-support tool to increase transparency and traceability across supply chains.


10. Revolutionary digital platform to boost green finance has been launched

The 'Green Digital Finance Alliance' was launched  at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting by its two founders, Ant Financial Services Group (Ant Financial), China's leading online and mobile financial services provider, and UN Environment. It has been created to address the potential for fintech-powered business innovations to reshape the financial system in ways that better align it with the needs of environmental sustainability.


Also, The Circulars 2017 Finalists were selected through a rigorous assessment and judging process, with the winner of each category.  Winners were announced at the prestigious awards ceremony held at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. Check out winners here.


by Natalie Myhalnytska


Book hotels in Davos here.


TAGS:sdgs, sustainability, climate change, Davos, World Economic Forum, responsible leadership

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