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Thunderbird Convenes Top World Leaders at Davos for Conversations About Climate

January 16, 2020

Thunderbird Convenes Top World Leaders at Davos for Conversations About Climate

Discussions will introduce major new initiatives covering climate restoration, business opportunities, and stakeholder responsibilities

Climate change and the impact of rising global temperatures became harder to ignore in 2019, with fires ravaging Australia and the Amazon

And for the first time in its 15-year history, climate concerns dominated the top of the annual World Economic Forum survey of 750 global government, academic, and business leaders. As he introduced Global Risks Report 2020, WEF President Borge Brende said the global leaders’ top five concerns this year were related to the failure to mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

Brende said the results must spark action, “This is the year when world leaders must work with all sectors of society to repair and reinvigorate our systems of cooperation, not just for short-term benefits but for tackling our deep-rooted risks.” 

Thunderbird convenes top world leaders at Davos for conversations about climate.” Click to tweet

Leaders at Thunderbird School of Global Management and Arizona State University agree and are set to convene some of the world’s top leaders for conversations about the future of business and technology at the World Economic Forum’s 50th annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. 

“We will be hosting two events at Davos which are designed to complement the theme of the WEF’s gathering,” said Sanjeev Khagram, the dean and director general of Thunderbird. “That theme is Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World. During our two events, we will gather those stakeholders – private investors, companies, governments, scientists, technologists and activists – to discuss concrete actions and begin to draw a roadmap for bold, global climate action.”

In addition, Thunderbird and the Foundation for Climate Restoration (F4CR) will announce a new partnership to design a global governance institution for climate restoration.  

Davos side events

As nearly 3,000 participants from 117 countries, 53 heads of state and government, and close to 1,700 business leaders gather for the annual World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos, Thunderbird is planning these two special side events:

Tuesday, Jan. 21, dinner 
Mobilizing $ Trillions for Global Climate Action:
Restoration as the Third Pillar with Adaptation and Mitigation

Wednesday, Jan. 22, lunch 
Cities Leverage the Fourth Industrial Revolution 
to Accelerate Achievement of the Global Sustainable Development Goals

What’s good for the planet is good for business

The Tuesday dinner event will include several discussions related to three main prongs on the work on climate change which a particular focus on the need for restoration. The three prongs are:

  • Mitigation -  reducing CO2 emissions
  • Adaptation - building climate-resilient infrastructure
  • Restoration - removing CO2 from the atmosphere

“We’re at what’s called 415 parts per million in the atmosphere of CO2 and we as a human species thrive at 300 parts per million,” said Khagram. “So we have to remove that CO2 from the atmosphere in order to get back to a place that not only is sustainable but thriving.”

Davos discussions will introduce major new initiatives covering climate restoration, business opportunities, and stakeholder responsibilities.” Click to tweet

Khagram said that global institutions that focus on mitigation and adaptation already exist and it is time to launch a global governance institution to lead multi-stakeholder restoration efforts. 

“What’s exciting for us at Thunderbird, obviously, is to do something very important for the planet in terms of restoration,” Khagram said. “Restoration is fascinating and important, but it also presents staggering market opportunities.”

“Our discussions will promote the theme of mobilizing markets for bold, global climate action (restoration, adaption, and mitigation), leveraging trillions of dollars in market opportunities, and catalyzing enabling policies and regulations,” Khagram said.

Recognizing the role of cities

The second Davos side event, Wednesday’s lunch, aims to provoke new thinking about the role of cities as drivers of more sustainable and equitable development.

Discussions will focus on actions that cities can take to meet the World Economic Forum’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and opportunities for cities to harness the transformational technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

“It is the world’s cities that represent the greatest source of positive action in the decade ahead,” Khagram said. “The achievement of virtually all of the 2030 global SDGs and targets requires concerted and comprehensive action in cities.”

It is the world’s cities that represent the greatest source of positive action in the decade ahead. ~ Sanjeev Khagram, the dean and director general of Thunderbird” Click to tweet

The lunch event will showcase two cities-based action-oriented projects.  

One is a major hands-on initiative on the 4IR and SDGs fully supported by the municipal leadership of Nairobi and Los Angeles, with seed funding provided by the Hilton Foundation. This project, with the aid of Thunderbird leaders in Kenya, is expected to show that, with the right focus, sustainability goals can be met in two very different global cities, one in an advanced industrial country and one in an emerging market.

The second project is called The Connective, the United States' largest smart region designed to develop and deploy technology solutions rooted in connectivity, mobility, equity, and sustainability. Based in Arizona, The Connective was launched by Arizona State University, Partnership for Economic Innovation, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Maricopa Association of Governments, and the Institute for Digital Progress.  

Decade for action 

As Khagram prepared to head to Davos, he thought about this moment in history and the importance of inspiring climate action from the world’s stakeholders.  

The WEF’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals were initially expected to be met by 2030. But, with just 10 years left to achieve the blueprint for a more sustainable future, reports indicate they are not on track. 

But this is no time to give up, Khagram stresses. “We stand at a critical juncture with an opportunity to put in place the multi-stakeholder partnerships, governance architectures, and policy frameworks.”  

“Private sector, pubic sector, academic, NGOs, we’ll meet with the full range of actors who can influence and collaborate on these global initiatives. In Davos, we plan to inspire concrete actions by these stakeholders who can help get things back on track.”   

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