Climate Action Starts with Dialogue
Voluntary Principles for engaging private and public stakeholders in dialogue for climate action
The private sector, with its significant financial resources and dedication to innovation, has a leading role to play in the urgent global effort to reverse the negative effects of climate change. Private sector involvement will take many forms, from new technologies to new financial instruments. But essential to this active role is a robust, structured dialogue enabling the private sector to engage with governments, international organizations, civil society, and communities on strategies to address a crisis whose impacts extend from remote villages and islands to the planet as a whole.
As countries embark on the global effort to implement the Paris Agreement, the World Bank Group, along with its partners, is developing a set of principles to guide the development of effective dialogues at the global, regional, national, and local level. The wide variety of climate change issues makes it obvious that inclusive dialogue to address the challenges will be equally varied. But long experience and considerable success at producing development solutions through organized dialogue point out the need for a set of principles common to all of these interactions.
In keeping with the spirit of open dialogue, the principles under development are open to discussion as we work toward the Dialogue for Climate Action conference in Vienna in May. The need for private sector involvement in the transition of the global economy towards a low carbon and resilient future is codified in the historic agreement reached in Paris at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) last December. The ambitious plans to which countries have committed must turn the principles of climate change mitigation and adaptation into action. The significant financial commitments as well as structures, policies and finance mechanisms included in the Paris Agreement are designed to accelerate and implement actions to meet ambitious, agreed goals.
CEOs from industries ranging from textiles to technology companies have pledged to scale-up efforts on climate action by decreasing their carbon footprint, ensuring cleaner energy inputs and investing in new technologies. Global financial institutions have pledged hundreds of billions of dollars of investments over the next 15 years in clean energy and energy efficiency and over 1,000 global businesses are asking for a meaningful price on carbon. Businesses can benefit when governments create an enabling environment for them to thrive in a green economy, both in developed and emerging markets. Dialogues help build trust, close the knowledge gap, catalyze action, and generate a sense of combined ownership of the recommendations. Building these dialogues in emerging markets can be a path to growth and way of helping people move out of poverty.
To be successful, dialogues need leadership combined with a sustainable, structured process to leverage the community of donors, partners, and initiatives. Among the key components of effective dialogues will be: ( i ) voluntary actions that private sector, public sector, and citizens can undertake; (ii) legal and regulatory reforms—including removal of fossil fuel subsidies and pricing carbon—to accelerate innovation, use of new technology/inputs, incentivize PPPs as necessary, and reward good behavior while penalizing bad behavior; (iii) availability and access to finance for businesses and citizens alike; and (iv) strategies to encourage behavioral change.
The World Bank Group has extensive experience on promoting dialogue between governments, private sector and civil society. The principles will improve the ability for companies to play an active role in the design of policies and initiatives that tackle climate change.
Principles for Dialogue on Climate Action
1. Awareness [J.Peljo comment: We need to also stress the link from awareness to action.]
To be informed of the multiple challenges of climate change, but also the solutions, requires a drive for awareness within climate dialogue process. This can include awareness of the platform itself, knowledge-sharing and the building of a common understanding of issues and opportunities among stakeholder groups. As recommendations emerge from the dialogue process, active advocacy will influence the success of their implementation. Awareness building is a continuous and progressive process of dialogue for climate action.
Economic and climate change fundamentals and good quality research should serve as the backbone for any final recommendations endorsed for implementation. This accountability should be based on a common understanding of targets and results. The goal for accountability is to ensure that climate change goals and competitiveness objectives are met.
3. Efficiency [J.Peljo edit: "Efficiency and ambition"]
Be efficient and organized when developing solutions for climate action. This could be achieved through an effective governance framework and a process for solving issues that are important to the economy and society. This would also require leadership that is able to convene and inspire a diverse and wide set of stakeholders.[J.Peljo add: "Leadership materializes in setting and pursuing ambitious targets in developing and implementing effective solutions for climate action."]
Climate dialogues should be founded on inclusive participation. All stakeholders in the private sector, spanning from formal to informal and from large to micro, should have a voice in influencing decisions that will impact them directly. In most situations dialogues cannot be at a national level alone and would need to be led by or inclusive of sub-national governments.
5. Transparency [J.Peljo comment: Needless to say that dialogue should be based on facts.]
As building trust is one of their fundamental objectives, climate dialogues must be transparent in their agendas, discussions and outcomes. Goals, timelines and policies around data sharing and confidentiality, online presence, structure of the dialogue and the composition of its members as well as its governing structure and process should be made public.