I am definitely still a bit in recovery mode from the frenetic and high-energy week that was New York City Climate Week 2023. The air was charged with a tangible shift – from the often-heard proclamations to real, actionable solutions being unveiled in our collective fight against climate change. Allow me to share with you five key takeaways that filled me with a real sense of optimism and hope.
1. The Unseen Link: Climate and Health
The discussions around the intersectionality of climate change and health were eye-opening. It’s not just about physical health but also about our mental well-being and the social determinants that underpin it. The dialogues moved beyond mere acknowledgment, exploring strategies for risk management, insurance, and ensuring equitable access to healthcare amidst the climate challenges, and organizations are making big bets here. Matter Unlimited clients, Rockefeller Foundation, have made a major announcement of a commitment of $1 billion over the next five years to ignite transformative actions to slow or reverse climate change. This is big development indeed, and as Dr. Rajiv Shah, President of Rockefeller Foundation, said: “the strategy is designed around a simple idea: humanity does not have to choose between addressing climate change and advancing human opportunity, we simply have to work in new ways and at a bigger scale and with new people and in new places to make sure everyone cannot just survive the climate crisis but thrive.” Stay tuned for more on this topic in 2024 from our friends at Rockefeller Foundation.
2. Steering Towards Net-Zero
The journey towards net-zero emissions was a big focal point and after 12 years of attending Climate Weeks, I feel tangible change is happening, vs. only hearing about future-facing plans. Certainly more needs to be done, and it needs to accelerate, but we need only look at leaders like Apple and Google, who showcased transformative initiatives aimed at reducing emissions across all scopes. The conversation extended beyond the corporate sector, exploring the deployment and scaling of technologies, from hydrogen markets to renewable energy, and advancing carbon capture and removal. I’m happy to announce that Matter Unlimited is launching a new effort in 2024 in support of raising awareness of the benefits of Green Hydrogen alongside some very interesting partners – reach out to me to learn more.
3. Equity in Global Climate Actions
The discussions around equitable decarbonization, especially in developing countries, were particularly interesting and refreshing. Dialogues, such as those hosted by Ignite Power, revolved around channeling finance to viable projects in developing nations, exploring innovative business models, and strategies to circumvent high lending rates. The role of multilateral development institutions and the need for their reform was a memorable theme, aligning climate goals with the real development aspirations of emerging economies.
4. Technology as a Climate Ally
The role of technology in climate solutions was heralded in every corner of the week as a crucial tool for deploying and scaling solutions, with companies presenting various data-management platforms and highlighting the current and future role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in aiding companies to reach net-zero. Of course, with all the buzz around AI, this was a big theme at events around town, but the opportunity here with AI and new tech across energy, agriculture, regenerative practices, etc. is very real and beginning to take hold with tangible impact. The discussions also encompassed how to scale technologies, from spurring markets for hydrogen to ramping up the deployment of renewable energy and advancing carbon capture and removal. Check out Tom Chi’s portfolio of companies funded by his At One Ventures as one example of very interesting and pragmatic emerging tech that is scaling and pointing the way toward real change.
5. Global Collaboration and Unity
The spirit of global collaboration was also on display, with the UN General Assembly (UNGA) providing a backdrop to Climate Week, focusing on reforming the global financial architecture, the urgency in cutting emissions, and achieving climate justice. The SDG Summit offered a moment to review and reignite action on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the Climate Ambition Summit dedicated to accelerating the adoption of renewable energy and phasing out fossil fuels, while forging potential partnerships critical to advancing shared climate goals leading up to COP28.
In wrapping up, the New York City Climate Week 2023 was not just a platform for discussions but a beacon of hope, symbolizing the shift towards tangible, actionable solutions in the climate arena. The cautious optimism I feel is not just a reflection of the discussions held but was also indicative of the collective commitment to turning dialogues into actions, plans into projects, and challenges into opportunities for creating a sustainable, equitable future. Let’s just say it’s not all doom and gloom! I hope this momentum continues in the right direction and we can move collectively towards a brighter, sustainable future. Reach out to me with your thoughts, projects and partnerships – Matter will undoubtedly be focusing more of our efforts on climate change in 2024 and beyond.