2016: a hot year. We wish you a cool 2017.
2016 has been a hot year in many senses. Literally because of climate change: 2016 is on course to be the hottest recorded year ever, with dramatic consequences in water cycles. Politically with Brexit, the election of Donald Trump in the US and the new roles of Russia and China. Socially with millions of migrants escaping from poverty, water scarcity and war to neighbour countries and to Europe.
On the bright side, pens have also been hot, signing various climate action documents: The Paris Agreement was ratified quicker than any international agreement in history and it is now “irreversible”; HFCs – a potent greenhouse gas – are going to be banned; the aviation industry, under the ICAO umbrella, has also made commitments to reduce its carbon footprint. All while China has been building two wind turbines every hour! More recently the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, led by Michael Bloomberg, issued their recommendations on climate-related financial disclosures that are applicable to organizations across various sectors and jurisdictions.
At SUST4IN we have been active in various sustainability issues, prioritizing four selected sustainability themes in which we have invested through events, speeches and articles, not to mention our consulting and training work in various countries. See below some of our ideas and events:
1. The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): In addition to our responsibility and the enormous business opportunity, it became clear that the SDGs are also an “insurance” to most of the social problems and to populism. We also believe that we need innovative approaches such as Design Thinking to implement the SDGs (see our new article).
o In September we celebrated the SDGs first anniversary at our “SDGs One Year On” International Conference with our favourite sustainable development “guru” Prof. Jeffrey Sachs from Columbia University and advisor to the UN, plus the former Minister of Environment of Spain, Cristina Narbona, as our keynote speakers.
2. The true value of water: Water is relatively cheap and will continue to be cheap, its value is mainly in business continuity within organizations and across their supply chains.
o In March we organized a workshop around investors’ demands, namely the CDP Water questionnaire: some of the workshop participants have now been recognized as leaders in the latest CDP Water Report.
o In October we organized our III Water Footprint International Conference, with practical cases, including the first ISO 14046 verification.
3. Climate action and finance: Investments are growing – the Green Bonds market for instance is doubling to more than $80bn – and we strongly believe that markets can help, but we are also definitely convinced that carbon taxes are needed, not to mention the end of subsidies. Unfortunately, we have no time to raise consumers’ awareness. We will have to be forced to change our behaviours very quickly by hitting our pockets.
o In May we were active at Carbon Expo in Cologne, including a side event on the new Paris Agreement Sustainable Development Mechanism;
o In July we organized our third Climate Finance: Green Bonds International Conference this time in conjunction with the Spanish Export Agency, ICEX: Green Bonds are a growing instrument to finance climate action and the market is more than doubling this year worldwide to almost $90bn and also in Spain;
o In November we were present at COP22 in Marrakech to celebrate the ratification of the Paris Agreement but also to continue the discussion on its Sustainable Development Mechanism, with our side event “Paris Agreement: Fostering Sustainable Development and Carbon Markets”.
o Still in November, immediately after COP22, we organized another “The Day After” Conference in Madrid where we reached a consensus that the Paris Agreement is irreversible, but that there is a lot of urgent work to do.
4. The circular economy: we insisted that there is no circular economy – a necessity, namely in Europe – without life cycle assessment.
o In May we organized the II Circular Economy and Life Cycle Assessment International Conference, with the MEP and former Minister of Environment of Finland Siri Pietikäinen as our keynote speaker also with real examples of how LCA can help with proper circular economy.
2017 looks challenging, but not quite revolutionary as 100 years ago. It will be another “year of action” as many have dubbed 2016 and definitely without the grandeur of 2015, when the Paris Agreement was signed and the SDGs were adopted. It will be a year of quiet, humble day to day work to keep spreading good sustainability practices, to report better and to keep implementing the SDGs: the clock is ticking and we will then have only 13 years to achieve our global commitments. Climate action and water scarcity are even more urgent.
In January we come back with our forecast for the new year and the hope that 2017 does not beat another temperature record becoming the tipping point for irreversible climate change effects.
We wish you a less hot and definitely cool 2017!
PS Keep watching this space and follow us on twitter for more frequent news.
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