Global Business and Civil Society Leaders to Issue Urgent Call for Leadership on Effective Climate Deal

New York, United States of America

Historic UN Leadership Forum on Climate Change seeks to build political momentum, express growing business support for fair and effective climate agreement

(New York, 22 September 2009) – Meeting with Heads of State and Government from more than 50 nations, nearly 200 leaders of global business and civil society organizations are gathering at the United Nations today to convey their support for a balanced, fair and effective global climate agreement.

The UN Leadership Forum on Climate Change, organized by the UN Global Compact in collaboration with a broad group of UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes1, marks the first time that the United Nations brings chief executives together with Government leaders to build political momentum for a climate agreement, to be negotiated in December at the critical UN Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in Copenhagen.

Speakers at the lunch event, held in conjunction with the high-level UN Summit on Climate Change, include UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, former US Vice President Al Gore, and a wide range of leaders representing the business and investment communities, and civil society. 
As a working meeting, the Forum will feature a number of interactive discussions on critical issues closely related to the climate challenge, including water and food security, energy solutions, financing, disaster preparedness and risk reduction, and sustainable enterprises and decent work. Business leaders are expected to announce a series of new commitments, initiatives and partnerships to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, spread innovative solutions and address associated risks, from poverty to public health.

The Forum is taking place amid significant recent shifts in business perceptions of the urgency and benefits of early climate action. While many remain reluctant to support comprehensive action, with some actively lobbying against ambitious climate agreements, a fast-growing number of business leaders is now engaging actively as advocates, solution providers and pro-climate investors.

On the advocacy side, the Copenhagen Communiqué, a statement by The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change calls on world leaders to agree on "an ambitious, robust and equitable global deal on climate change". The statement is now supported by over 500 global executives. Similarly, 181 investment institutions collectively representing USD 13 trillion in global assets have supported the 2009 Investor Statement on the Urgent Need for a Global Agreement on Climate Change issued by the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change and its partners.

The World Economic Forum has released a summary of recommendations of its Low-Carbon Prosperity Task Force, a business-led multi-stakeholder collaboration that formulates the economic and policy conditions needed to "incentivize investments and bring the low-carbon economy into being".

In May, global business leaders attending the World Business Summit for Climate Change hosted by the Copenhagen Climate Council, issued the Copenhagen Call, a set of concrete actions business believes are required to forge an effective new global climate treaty.

The UN Leadership Forum will also give recognition to several sectoral and national initiatives, such as the Open Letter to Brazil on Climate Change issued by Ethos Institute of Business and Social Responsibility and other civil society organizations.

Beyond advocacy, a number of collaborative frameworks have been gaining traction to expedite climate action at the corporate level. These include the Global Compact’s Caring for Climate platform, the rapidly growing Carbon Disclosure Project, and the important work done by the International Chamber of Commerce and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development.

Several new reports to be launched at the Leadership Forum will present the perspectives and expectations of leading CEOs and project how market sustainability is closely linked to Governments’ ability to seal a deal in Copenhagen.

Reflective of the rise in advocacy for comprehensive climate action, Forum participants will issue a joint declaration calling for “a new level of leadership” and articulating a strong business case for the negotiation of a climate framework. The declaration further stresses the critical importance of an agreement to unleash far-reaching investments, drive innovation, boost global cooperation and secure the long-term sustainability of the global marketplace.

"Business has a critical role to play in building political momentum for a fair and effective climate agreement in Copenhagen,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “I hope the UN Leadership Forum on Climate Change will send a strong message to governments. By taking action today, we can help usher in a new era of sustainable global green growth for all.”

1The UN Leadership Forum on Climate Change is organized by the UN Global Compact, in collaboration with FAO, IFC, IFAD, ILO, UNICEF, DESA, UNDP, UNEP, UNIDO, OCHA, UNISDR and WFP.