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World Economic Forum 2012: An overview of the week's events in Davos

Posted by Harry Verhaar in A Simple Switch on Jan 27, 2012 6:28:48 PM 631 Views

Here’s a quick overview of the events that I joined during this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos:


Clean Revolution Campaign
This started with a very interesting meeting of the new International Leadership Council (ILC) of The Climate Group at the Belvedere hotel in Davos. The main topic was the Clean Revolution Campaign that will be rolled out in 2012 and was announced last year at the Climate Week in New York.


The ILC was presided over by Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group and Jean Charest, Prime Minister of Québec (the ILC chairman Tony Blair had to cancel his participation at the WEF the preceding evening due to ongoing ministerial discussions in the Middle East). With a group of 12 participants (a.o. Accenture, Duke Energy, Suzlon, VantagePoint Ventures and Philips Lighting) we briefly looked back at COP17 and ahead at Rio+20. We discussed what would be the most effective narrative, messaging, communication tools, platforms and materials for the Clean Revolution Campaign. We recognized that at Rio+20 no high-level political declarations are anticipated as four of the five UN security council members (US; China; France; Russia) will be in a leadership transition. In fact this provides Rio+20 – and ourselves through the Clean Revolution campaign - the opportunity to create a new leadership narrative that drives new economic models for sustainable growth.


Although Climate Change has dropped down the agenda in 2011 (due to Arab Spring; Euro crisis; US debt ceiling; Fukushima) we have just a short period of five years max to bend the curve, as carbon emissions are rising faster than ever before (+6% last year, the biggest rise since 1973) and climate science indicates that the risk of arriving at a +3 to 4C world is growing rapidly. Such a world would be a very unpleasant one for all species, not the least the human race. We agreed to further shape the positive narrative; while highlighting the enormous potential offered by leading companies, sectors and sub-national governments (with a special initiative on LED lighting) and show what is possible at scale, providing exciting and attractive economic, ecological and social benefits creating a world we would all want to live in. Dedicated follow-up was agreed upon.


2012 SAM Yearbook
I briefly participated in the 2012 SAM Yearbook launch, presented by Yvo de Boer, Special Climate Change and Sustainable Development advisor at KPMG. The Yearbook 2012 contains sustainability insights into 58 sectors and the leading companies in 58 sectors are classified into three categories – SAM Gold Class, SAM Silver Class and SAM Bronze Class – with special status awarded to Sector Leaders (Philips being one of these) and Sector Movers. The presentation was introduced and hosted by Michael Hastings, Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick CBE, Global Head of Citizenship and Diversity, KPMG International; there were further discussions on:


  • When markets work in favor of sustainable development, with Yvo de Boer, KPMG´s Special Advisor on Climate Change and Sustainability and Michael Baldinger, CEO of SAM
  • Sustainability Yearbook 2012 - Selected insights from the SAM Corporate Sustainability assessment 2011, with Dr. Daniel Wild, Head of Research, SAM
  • Close by Alan Buckle, Deputy Chairman, KPMG International


The 2012 SAM yearbook contained a special feature interview with the CEO of Philips, Frans van Houten, sharing his view on how innovation and sustainability work in conjunction to create meaningful innovations that improve the lives of our customers and thus drive prosperous growth.
Follow-up agreements were made with Yvo de Boer on the important NAMA plans that all UN members are making to address Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and on further initiatives with regards to tackling Climate Change and public funding.


Resource Scarcity
The third event of the day was a special “Resource Scarcity” gathering organized by PWC with speakers Kristel van der Elst (leader of the resource scarcity WEF initiative), HRH Jaime Prince de Bourbon de Parme (Special envoy, Natural Resources with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). There were about 30 senior executives and representatives from across industry and government.


The rising and potential impact of resource scarcities – with emphasis on minerals and metals scarcity – were highlighted. Some are geopolitical conflicts, resource nationalism, the visibility of brands versus the invisibility of the downstream value chain players (and cowboys), and how this can impact major industries, as the car industry, electronics, lighting and many others. Good feed-back was received on our view to move from a ‘linear’ to a ‘circular society’ with lifecycle performance based decision making and new closed loop business models.


The potential of LED lighting and service based business models (thus securing upstream value chain commitments) was briefly highlighted, as well as the work of the electronics industry and Philips to certify downstream value chain stakeholders on business practices. A number of requirements – policy frameworks, smarter resource management; new financing and budgeting mechanisms – were discussed and a clear link was identified with development of leadership approaches and relevant technical skills to enable such a societal transition. Follow-up discussions were agreed with a number of participants.