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Recap of the inaugural Global Summit on Climate Governance

By Natasha Fortuin

Climate Governance Initiative, WEF Forum

It was an excellent inaugural Global Summit. It is not an exaggeration to say there have been several emails and survey responses commending the sessions as some of the best the NEDs had attended.

The participating country chapters collectively have brought together an inspirational cast of panellists and moderators who demonstrated the highest level of thought-leadership.

Read the blog posts and watch the sessions again here:, you are encouraged to share this content with your colleagues.

Next steps – Changing behaviours through incentivisation

Only 11% of European companies and 2% of US S&P 500 companies, have CO2 emissions linked to their incentive plans. To help companies and directors to improve this statistic, today we launched a survey which will not only allow us to collect information, but also enable board directors to understand the link between climate priorities and how they could be assessed and incorporated into Executive Compensation.

The survey is a partnership between Willis Towers Watson and the Climate Governance Initiative. Results will be presented in a ‘guidebook’ which will be launched in August 2021.

Please share this link with your members.

We have collectively pulled off something to be proud of, but the journey is only beginning and this is “our opportunity to be Pioneers”.

All the best and I look forward to the future collaborations of our 12 operational chapters in Brazil, Brussels, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Nordics, Russia Switzerland and United Kingdom

Recap on the Sessions

The opening session was attended by 500 board members, executives and governance experts.

  • Former US Vice-President, Al Gore, addressed urgency and abandoning ‘short-termism’.

  • We also heard from Angeles Garcia-Poveda - Chair, Legrand, Claudio Descalzi - CEO, Eni, Leslie Seidman - Former Chair of Financial Accounting Standards Board and Non-Executive Director, of Moody’s Corp, and Roberto Marques - CEO and Executive Chair, Natura & Co.

  • CEO of Eni, Claudio Descalzi, called boards to action, promoting accountability on executive teams to prioritise the climate emergency.

Some discussed points were:

  • Need to address climate challenge on a systemic level and mobilize capital markets to accelerate the transition to low carbon.

  • Leadership from the entire board as the key driver for real action to take place.

  • The importance of board culture, purpose and ensuring a ‘just’ transition.

  • Transparency in the board, in financial and ESG reporting, and in board culture.

  • Accountability and linking climate plans to executive compensation.

European providers of capital renounced greenwashing and promote alignment of actions with net zero commitments. We heard from Chairs of BNP Paribas and Société Générale, and top executives at EBRD and The Children’s Investment Foundation Fund.

Discussion points included:

  • Responsibility lies with the companies’ boards to ensure that commitments are robust, and plans are well implemented.

  • Climate change is an opportunity, but the road is paved with dilemmas, knowledge about climate change is key.

  • The climate competence of the board is low (just 3% of corporate board members in the US are climate competent - NYU Stern report).

  • Voting against boards which do not respond adequately is an option. However, there are other opportunities for shareholders to engage before taking that step.

National chapters in Nordics, Brazil, Chile and Germany were launched, bringing the number of launched chapters to 11.

In Chile, Gonzalo Muñoz, High Level Climate Action Champion COP25 - COP26 and Carolina Schmidt, Minister of the Environment of Chile, supported the chapter launch.

The German launch was supported by Dr. Simone Bagel-Trah, Chair of the Supervisory Board and of the Shareholders’ Committee, Henkel AG, Joe Kaeser, Chair of the Supervisory Board, Siemens Energy AG and Reiner Hoffmann - President of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), Supervisory Board member, Bayer AG.

Launch of Brazilian Chapter counted with Leila Loria, Vice Chairman of IBGC, Carlos Takahashi, Managing Director of Blackrock Brazil, and Franklin Feder, NED Minerals Technologies, AES Tietê, Brazilian Aluminium Company

Nordics’ Chapter launch was supported by among others Thomas Thune Andersen, Chair Orsted, Adele Pran Norman, Chair Zalaris, and Harri-Pekka Kaukkonen, Chair YIT

In the session about climate capability on boards, moderated by the IADB, the CEO of NACD (USA based National Association of Corporate Directors, with more than 20.000 members), announced its intention to launch the USA chapter on Earth Day 2021.

Heart of the Matter: Inspiring Climate Action Through Culture and Art reached our viewers through a combination of the 'heart and head' approach, it was hosted by the New Development Bank whose CFO, Leslie Maasdorp introduced the session.

On Wednesday, we heard:

The Islamic Development Bank’s President, H.E. Dr Bandar Hajjar, discuss the importance of Building Effective Climate Governance in the Islamic Finance Industry, with a call to action for climate action in the Islamic financial markets.

Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development, President, Marina Grossi moderate the session which explored Climate Governance and Initiatives to Enhance Business.

A leading business which strives to do More for the Economy with less from the Planet confirm their journey started when the Chair of the Board asking “what is the right level of profit?”, after reimagining profit, it was “the role of the board to empower management to take a long-term view to allow the change to happen”.

There were deep dives into risk management, strategic integration and sectors, including:

· An interactive session which helped the board to envision possible implications of their responses to climate-related physical risk. Viewers took the role of a fictitious board and voted to explore different scenarios. We saw the impact of backlash from employees and local communities, evolving technologies and data availability, and the need to incorporate a carbon price within every investment decision.

· Key aspects to Building a Business Decarbonisation Strategy. The session emphasized “Sustainability is not an add on, it is about survival of the company” and highlighted four main steps: i) Understand your footprint; ii) Have a bold ambition – considering factors that might arise in the future, iii) Validate any plans; and iv) Monitor execution.

· Global Metals & Mining: Climate will define the corporate strategies of all miners, was the message from the panel which also explored the decline of coal, and the need to fund new extractives such as copper, nickel and cobalt for battery production.

· Global Oil & Gas: “Managing climate change and having a transition strategy is not only necessary but is absolutely critical for business survival” - Tengku Muhammed Taufik - President and Group CEO, Petronas.

· Decarbonising Shipping: Shipping represents close to 3% global carbon emissions and uses some of the most carbon intensive fuels currently available. We heard how the shipping industry is likely to change and the innovation needed to achieve net zero.

· Fashion, Food and Innovation leaders discussed how entire business strategies were overhauled to ensure business did no harm, and maintained productivity and sales levels.

· Adaptation and mitigation actions, enabling conditions and examples of success in the fight to Combat climate change in Chile.

· Practical examples to accelerate corporate climate action were provided by the panel of sustainability and strategy leaders of Reckitt, Brambles, Scania and Dell, who agreed: “The biggest lesson learnt is that we can't do this alone. We need to work in concert with others, even with our competitors, and share as much as we can.” Gilberto Tomazoni - Global CEO, JBS and Datuk Sazali Hamzah - Managing Director/CEO, Petronas delivered key-notes about how climate change is impacting their corporate priorities, their climate related project portfolios and approaches to capital allocation.

The Goal 13 Impact Platform is a partnership set up to facilitate learning and collaboration between companies as they address the climate crisis by creating a free and open platform capturing individual corporate initiatives and their context. The platform is led by Sam Baker, Deloitte, and supported by several Chapters of the CGI.

Meanwhile, the round-up of the final day of the Global Summit:

“To be responsible stewards of our companies, we must acknowledge that our existing knowledge is insufficient to tackle the climate emergency.”

“Board level discussions provide an opportunity for collaboration, accountability, learning and non-competitive information sharing… I am hopeful we can build a more sustainable and prosperous future.”

“Company targets are important but must be operationalised, they must be backed by credible plans that stand up to scrutiny, and we must be transparent…”

“Spot non-linear changes coming better than your competitors, bring in disruptive technologies experts and make sure your board is up to speed with it.”

“Use your imagination rigorously and pragmatically and challenge peers to do the same.”

“You accomplish what you measure. Choose appropriate metrics and targets to achieve your company’s climate goals”

The conversation was moderated by Emily Farnworth - Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge, with panellists including: Emma Marcegaglia - Chair, B20, Claudia Sender Ramirez - Board Member, Telefonica, LafargeHolcim and Gadau, Nigel Topping - High Level Champion for Climate Action, COP26, Mark Tucker - Chair, HSBC Holdings plc and Punit Renjen - Global CEO, Deloitte.

Deep dives into incentivisation, reporting and carbon markets:

Investors and remuneration committee chairs agreed that ‘the low carbon transition will be one of the most effective levers to encourage innovation’ and that they are ‘observing a narrowing of short-term goals in remuneration policies which incentivise value destructive behaviours’.

Offsetting is important, it’s a great opportunity but needs to fit into a broader strategy. Companies need to take on a decarbonisation pathways and put serious effort into reducing their carbon footprints and scope 3 emissions, and then only offset.

The Board should agree on a quality standard for the company’s purchased carbon offsets. After engaging with stakeholders, make a conscious decision about the integrity of credits your company will buy and let the treasury department purchase only those.

There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen - Reporting for climate-related impacts is moving at the pace of the latter. NEDs explored the Morrow Sodali Investor 2021 survey with two main findings:

-There is a clear preference for TCFD as a climate reporting standard.

-All sessions discussed the importance of transparency, collaboration and engagement with the entire value chain.

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