“You have to be loud about climate change,” says chair of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General’s High-Level Expert Group Catherine McKenna. “We have to uplift the voices of the people that are most affected.”

This week Climate Group hosted Climate Week NYC in partnership with the UN General Assembly and the City of New York. This global climate event fostered conversations with influential and global leaders of climate action from businesses, governments, and the climate change community.

Through inspiring, amplifying, and uplifting the global platforms, Climate Week NYC is a catalyst for action against climate change. From September 19-25th there were in-person, virtual, and broadcasted events to engage Climate group partners and eager participants.

We were invited to sit in on a couple of informative seminars and panel discussions from the “The new climate reality: responding to complex and connected crises” series.

The notable speakers provided the global audience with educational conversations. These international and national leaders shared their experiences from their wins to their future plans for climate action. Whether you’re interested in getting involved or just want to stay informed, here’s what you missed.

As many know climate change is caused by emissions of greenhouse gasses, like Carbon Dioxide amongst other damaging human activities. The blame is often cast upon big businesses; however, it’s more than just them.

Director-General at World Trade Organization (WTO)  Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Managing Director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF)  Kristalina Georgieva spoke about connected crises and stressed a focus on global collaboration among governments.

Screen grab from event: (left to right) Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Bill Weir, Kristalina Georgieva

“In this environment, even if it is difficult to solve geo-political issues,” Georgieva says, “we must work together.”

Geo-political conflicts can cause a ripple effect that can disrupt economical structures. One conflict Georgieva shed light on was the war in Ukraine which caused disorder in global trade.

“These shocks are not going to stop,” Okonjo-Iweala notes.

Our governments must globally work hand in hand to support sustainable infrastructure and eco-conscious economies. One aspect that both Okonjo-Iweala and Georgieva touched on is the importance of global trade to pursue climate action.

“Trade is a tool for adaptation,” Okonjo-Iweala mentions.

With sustainable trade agreements, global countries can support each other in efforts to clean up business practices and fund green legislation.

“Our societies have to be more inclusive,” Georgieva says. “So [that] in times of crisis we can be resilient together.”

After Okonjo-Iweala and Georgieva shared their final remarks on the importance of trade. Bill Weir, Chief Climate Correspondent at CNN wrapped up this section of the seminar and introduced Climate Group’s CEO Helen Clarkson to chat with an innovative leader in equitable sustainability, Nancy Mahon.

Estée Lauder Is Acting Against Climate Change With Sustainability Strategies

Mahon is the SVP of Global Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability of The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC). She takes pride in her team and their efforts to make Estée Lauder as sustainable as possible.

Screen grab from event: Nancy Mahon

“We are focusing on our green infrastructure,” she says.

Between 2018 and 2030, ELC plans to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 50%. ELC’s action plan also mentions a 60% reduction of Scope 3 GHG emissions per unit from purchased goods and services, upstream transportation and distribution, and business travel.

The global Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability sector provides annual reports to publicly state how ELC is doing in its green efforts.

“Climate is the most important issue for our team,” Mahon mentions.

By partnering with regional teams, they can ensure sustainable production to work with their action plan. ELC also consults small grassroots climate action groups with BIPOC leaders to do important work surrounding suppliers.

Mahon wants to focus on pushing larger retailers that can participate in sustainable efforts but also provide encouragement to smaller suppliers to give women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups a chance to take part in climate action at ELC.

“Everyone needs to be mobilized and inspired to make change,” Mahon says.

United Nations Representatives, Bezos Green Fund CEO, and More Dicuss Climate Action Strategies

Following Nancy Mahon, Clarkson invited four great panelists to discuss the pitfalls of fighting against climate change. Lorena Dellagiovanna, Catherine McKenna, Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, and Dr. Andrew Steer shared strategies for avoiding issues like green-washing and ignorant leadership.

One rising issue is “green-washing” this is when a company focuses more on marketing sustainability rather than acting on their plans. The New York Times says, “‘Sustainable. ’Eco-friendly.’’ Natural.’ We’re surrounded by products that are made to sound “green” and good. Greenwashing is everywhere.”

“We have no more time for slow movers or green washers,” says Catherine Mckenna the chair of UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Expert Group on the Net-Zero Commitments of Non-State Entities.

Screen grab from event: Catherine Mckenna 

To make change happen businesses have to step up with their goals and be transparent about their progress like Estée Lauder. McKenna stressed that companies need to report emission percentages and make goals to lower emissions through active planning between the supply chain and distribution.

“The only way you build trust is you deliver,” McKenna mentions. “It’s in your interest to get regulation.” She explains that with regulations for transparent reporting companies will have to deliver.

President and CEO of Bezos Earth Fund Dr. Andrew Steer echoes her push for deliverables by businesses and governments.

Screen grab from event: Dr. Andrew Steer

“Climate change is a wicked issue, and we need collective action shared between counties,” he says. “However, it’s about the stakeholders and organizations that can help solve these problems.

“We need irresistible ideas that inspire leadership and inspire funds.”

UN Climate Change High-Level Champion of the UNFCC, Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin suggests that regional roundtables with leaders are helping to source funding and get the ball rolling.

Screen grab from event: Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin 

“We have more than 60 projects that are investable,” he says, “not just for banks but investors.”

Developing projects that will make investors bite is a way to get funding for making efforts against climate change.

“This has to change,” Mohieldin notes “Solutions are there but when it comes to political commitment and accountability there is a lot to design there.”

“Government doesn’t get enough support,” McKenna says, “Businesses could be the catalyst for governments that are trying really hard.”

Mckenna elaborates on the concept of scaling on these climate action strategies. She suggests that scaling up is not possible without business and government leaders working together.

Another hiccup for scaling could be competition between businesses regarding climate action efforts. VP and Executive Officer, Chief Sustainability Officer, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, and Head of Environment for Hitachi, Ltd Lorena Dellagiovanna spoke to this problem.

“In this field, I don’t think we should talk about competition,” Dellagiovanna claims “If you don’t bring everybody on board you don’t go anywhere.”

“We need to empower women,” McKenna says. “They are practical, and they want to be ambitious”

Dellagiovanna and Mckenna wrap up by bringing attention to the needs of citizens and younger generations—especially underrepresented communities.

Equity, inclusion, and collaboration are sewn into nearly every strategy mentioned by the panelists. When citizens are uplifted, and organizers are inspired change is possible.

These trailblazers need help from climate action groups, business leaders, government officials, and anyone who wants to take part in saving our planet from the harmful future that awaits. It’s time to get it done. Act now.

A huge thank you goes out to the Climate Group and all of their partners for bringing people together to inform, educate, and inspire. Climate Week NYC is just one of many global events that support climate action. Stay up to date with Climate Group for future events.

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Featured image: (C) Markus Spiske