Previewing COP 27 with Yvo de Boer, President the Gold Standard
Yvo de Boer is the President of Gold Standard. He led the international process to respond to climate change in his role as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2006-2010. We caught up with him to hear his views ahead of COP 27, which runs from 6 November to 18 November 2022 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.Yvo de Boer is the President of Gold Standard. He led the international process to respond to climate change in his role as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2006-2010. We caught up with him to hear his views ahead of COP 27, which runs from 6 November to 18 November 2022 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.
Gold Standard: You’ve been to 24 COP summits. What is unique about the current time? What do you hope to see from this COP?
Yvo de Boer: Let me begin with the positive part of the answer to this question. This CoP really represents a unique opportunity to show progress on three fronts, two of them related.
- Clearly there is an urgent need to advance on issues around resilience in the face of climate change, and loss and damage resulting from current and future impacts of climate change. Real progress on these issues is critical. Both because the issues are urgent and second because real progress on these topics can bring much needed confidence to the process.
- A second critical question the CoP can resolve, or at least address, is how we can mobilise our collective international architecture to deliver more strongly and coherently on these issues. Here I am thinking of the UN system, the World Bank and the IMF. If these organisations work together effectively, they can bring an important positive impact to the broad resilience agenda.
- Third the CoP needs to track progress on the many promises that were made in Glasgow. The broad engagement CoP26 represented was great, but it was also in a complex and non-binding context. This makes tracking delivery an important challenge.
Now the less positive part of the answer:
- First, there is war in Ukraine, and we are experiencing the consequences of this around the world, in terms of energy, food and fertiliser prices, to mention just a few impacts.
- Second, the world economy is not in the best of health. This makes rich country spending to meet climate obligations even more challenging.
- Third, many countries are still coping with the Covid pandemic and the cost of keeping their economies upright.
So this is actually not the best time to look for additional financial resources, at a time when we need them most. At least for now.
Gold Standard: We know that trillions must be mobilized to achieve the SDGs, but that achieving them represents trillions of dollars in market opportunity for business. What would be your request to the private sector to mitigate the climate emergency and accelerate progress in sustainable development in t time scales required?
Yvo de Boer: The private sector made important commitments at the CoP in Glasgow. So I expect the private sector to meet those commitments. Second there needs to be a stronger recognition on the part of the private sector that this is actually a collective responsibility. To quote an old friend: “business cannot succeed in a society that fails”. By implication this means that business has a responsibility to ensure societies succeed. Third it is important that business engagement is sincere and devoid of greenwashing. This is especially true where carbon markets are concerned.
Gold Standard: You’ve chaired the Board of Gold Standard for 4 years now and have seen the organisation move from working primarily in carbon markets to having ambitions to drive a new scale of sustainable finance. How do you believe Gold Standard can contribute to helping governments, companies and investors maximise their impact to climate security and sustainable development?
Yvo de Boer: The sad truth is that we live in a world where, at the end of the day, the only capital we really value is cash. As a result we often squander natural capital, social capital, intellectual capital and other capitals as though they were worthless. This while we know full well that they are not. We are allowing ourselves to take a mortgage on them. The challenge the Gold Standard Foundation needs to address is how we can express value more broadly, to ensure multiple capitals are respected. This means working with financial institutions to ask the right questions, respect the right values and invest in the right projects. It means working with corporates to express the broad value they create in ways that are relevant to their investor, customers and regulators. It means working with policy makers to put in place the regulatory environment that encourages the positives and discourages the negatives. The Gold Standard Foundation is a small organisation, and my ask is huge. So if you are tiny, and the task is monumental, find friends and be sure your initiatives are focussed on where you can have most impact.
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