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Ellen Jackowski headshot

Lessons from Climate Week: 3 Things Needed to Accelerate Change

A Climate Week reminder that three ingredients are needed to take on climate change - starting with partnerships between companies, governments and NGOs.
Climate Week

TriplePundit is covering the U.N. General Assembly and Climate Week NYC through the weekend. You can follow our coverage here

Climate Week NYC officially kicked off Monday, but arguably last Friday‘s Global Climate Strike set the stage for this week’s agenda. Like so many, I have been inspired by this youth-led movement and its uncompromising calls for action. And so, as I go into the week, I am keeping in mind three key ingredients needed to create sustainable impact – a bold action plan, strong partnerships and an enthusiasm for change.

Bold action is needed long after Climate Week

In 2015, the UN Sustainable Development Goals announced a bold vision meant to focus and align the global community around an agenda for sustainable development by the year 2030. However, two reports released in July of this year showed that despite progress in a number of areas, progress has been slow or even reversed on some goals.

Acknowledging the urgency to act, in March, the UN General Assembly declared 2021-2030 the decade of ecosystem restoration. This global vision and call to action aims to massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems to fight the climate crisis and enhance food security, water supply and biodiversity. This is a rallying cry for business, government and civil society to accelerate and focus our efforts where they can have the greatest impact.

I am inspired by the leadership being demonstrated by business in the lead up to climate week – taking their own bold actions to drastically reduce their carbon impacts. Amazon committed to carbon neutrality by 2040 as part of the new Climate Pledge, through a combination of decarbonization strategies and offsetting. Google announced a $2 billion investment in new renewable energy infrastructure across the US, South America and Europe – the largest investment in the company’s history.

This week, HP is taking the next steps in its own bold action plan to create a forest positive future for printing. Together with longstanding partner and conservation leader World Wildlife Fund (WWF), HP is committing $11M to the restoration, protection and conservation of 200,000 acres of forest – an area equal to the size of New York City – in the first project within HP’s Sustainable Forests Cooperative. As part of this initiative, HP will also support WWF’s efforts in developing science-based targets for forests, estimating the carbon, water and biodiversity benefits of conservation efforts. For a legacy printing company, this constitutes a really big vision. But, with resource-rich forests being destroyed at the pace of 27 soccer fields per minute, HP believes the time for better business models, swift action and greater collaboration is now.

Transformative partnerships

Which brings me to the second key ingredient – partnerships. If you want to go far, go together – and we have very far to go, and urgently need to get there faster. Any successful sustainable development agenda requires partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society to truly move the needle.

The oceans are one of our greatest shared resources – when managed well, they create jobs, provide food, support abundant biodiversity, and help to regulate our global climate. However, our oceans face significant threats that are reducing their ability to provide crucial ecosystem services. The solutions to restoring ocean health will need to be as diverse as the causes, and will require deep and authentic collaboration. I am looking forward to the launch of some audacious and impactful partnerships for action over the next week.

In May of this year, the inaugural Ocean Plastics Leadership Summit convened leading organizations in the plastics supply chain in one of the five oceanic gyres. This event put unlikely partners side by side to debate, discuss and hash out differences with the goal of inspiring partnerships, joint ventures and R&D initiatives to support new and scalable solutions to the ocean plastic pollution problem.

HP’s own partners have been critical in the company’s work to develop a fully functioning ocean-plastics supply chain in Haiti. And last week, HP proudly unveiled the world’s first notebook computer with ocean-bound plastic. We could not have done this without the close collaboration of our supply chain partners and the First Mile Coalition. The learnings from this project open new opportunities for new innovations and capabilities to collaborate and scale our ocean-bound plastics supply chain. And by joining the NextWave Coalition, we are able to share our learnings with other manufacturers in our industry and across sectors as we aim to create a truly global and circular plastics supply chain.

The best partnerships challenge us, contribute innovative ideas, push us to sometimes uncomfortable places, and demand authentic action.

Change is hard

Which brings me to my last critical ingredient—discomfort. Change is happening all around us, and it is up to us to harness this energy to positively transform how we think, behave and act. Change is hard, it is sometimes messy, and it can certainly be uncomfortable. But, it is in discomfort that we grow, we learn, and we get better.

So during this week, as you are running around New York City, make sure you are having the uncomfortable, challenging conversations. Share your vision, and be ready to back it up with action. And work hard to build partnerships that turn vision into action. Because the stakes are too high to move backwards, and change is coming, whether we like it or not.  It is our responsibility and opportunity to shape it and create a measurably better future for the planet, its people and our communities.

Image credit: HP

Ellen Jackowski headshot

Ellen Jackowski is Chief Sustainability Officer of Mastercard, where she is spearheading the integration of the company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy into the organization. As part of this work, she is driving climate leadership for Mastercard-wide programs and commitments, such as reaching net-zero emissions by 2040, and helping accelerate the company’s impact in climate action initiatives like Priceless Planet Coalition. Previously, Ellen served as Chief Impact Officer and Head of Sustainable Impact at HP. 

Read more stories by Ellen Jackowski