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Climate and Nature: A Systemic Response Needed

"A Long-Term Strategy for Climate, Nature and Energy" is another powerful theme of Davos 2024—the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. At its core, this dimension of the forum aims to promote concrete actions and generate discussions to create a ripple effect of change to finally break the stalemate of "no action, talk only" climate solutions in the past. A thought-provoking session, "Climate and Nature: A Systemic Response Needed," brought together, among others, the World Bank's president, the International Monetary Fund's managing director, and IKEA's CEO to ideate on this "stalemate-breaking" promise. The panelists' solution was simple yet poignant: every sector must realize its roles and pull its weight in alleviating the climate crisis to forge a systematic path toward a sustainable future together.


From the public sector's side, the key recommendation is taking practical actions that create real impacts instead of only coming up with out-of-touch-with-reality policies. Professor Katharine Hayhoe, a Texas Tech University’s climate scientist, began by imploring businesses, citizens, and governments to connect climate to things they care about, such as the state of living or livelihood; only then would true solutions be devised. The professor’s words resonated with Ajay Banga, President of the World Bank Group (WBG), who exemplified that integrative action is needed for systematic transformation. The WBG's head declared that for a public institution such as the one he leads, setting ambitious goals and working with the private sectors and local governments to improve the infrastructure front is vital. He cited examples from the bank's lifting 300 million Africans out of poverty—100 million more than the previous goal—and investing in electrification and livelihood development projects in the global south. Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), echoed her WBG counterpart, stating that everyone must not just talk but take tangible actions, and as actions are taken, IMF would be there to support every step of the way.


The private sector—represented by two giants, Jesper Brodin, the CEO of global furniture company IKEA, and André Hoffmann, the leader of Massellaz, one of Switzerland's largest impact investment firms—joined the discussion with practical solutions. "It is good business to be a good business," was an inspiring motto of IKEA's CEO, citing that companies gain customer trust by doing more on the climate front, driving up sales and prestige. This, he said, could be the lesson for every business to step up, work together, and make tangible changes. Massellaz’s André Hoffmann added on to this with a valuable note on long-term vision. The Swiss business magnate stressed that companies must understand the actual cost of their actions and urged companies to band together—instead of competing with each other—for the benefit of "stakeholders," not just "shareholders." This shift, he affirmed, requires courage, "for with ownership comes responsibility," and courage is what it takes to create lasting and systematic changes for the world.

The session declares that isolated solos cannot tackle the climate crisis, which demands a unified, orchestrated response from both the public and private sectors. As the final echoes of the session faded into the Swiss alpine air, one question remained: will the world heed this powerful declaration and set in motion the actions needed to secure a sustainable future? Perhaps a GREAT motivator lies in the closing advice of the IMF’s managing director: "…when you don't know what is the right thing to do, look at [your children], and it will come."



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