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Youth and the private sector play a key role in achieving COP26 climate goals

According to a number of experts at Expo 2020 Dubai
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Young people and the private sector have a key role to play if the world is to achieve global climate change goals, speakers told delegates attending the 'Reflections of COP26: Accelerating the Way Forward' event, held at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Describing COP26 as "a true private sector COP", Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, set the tone at the SDG Media Zone session, organised by #UNHub and held during Global Goals Week at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The SDG Media Zone is organised by the United Nations, in partnership with the PVBLIC Foundation, and aims to bring the conversation on advancing the Sustainable Development Goals out of the political sphere and into the public discourse. In addition to Ojiambo, speakers at the event also included Alexis Lecanuet, regional managing director for the Middle East at Accenture (Expo 2020 Dubai's digital services partner).

While expressing disappointment that a consensus on climate finance has not been reached, the private sector has a real role to play, Sanda Ojiambo felt. "I thought the private sector was bold, I thought the private sector was ambitious. The private sector was actually asking governments and political leaders to be very clear about what their ambitions were, what the goals and targets would be, to support countries' efforts and actions," he added.

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He went on to emphasise the UN Global Compact's ongoing work with global companies that are firmly committed to tackling the climate crisis.

Referencing the findings of the UN Global Compact's Accenture CEO Sustainability Survey, Lecanuet highlighted the private sector's commitment to solving the climate crisis. According to the global survey of approximately 1,200 CEOs, 80 countries have pledged to reduce net emissions by 30% by 2030, with $96 million already committed. Lecanuet said that an additional challenge to achieving these targets would be financing in the global south.

Both speakers went on to emphasise how crucial collaboration between sectors and stakeholders will be to achieve the COP26 goals. Lecanuet called for "greater collaboration to strengthen the private sector's contribution to the national goal", while Ojiambo said that "the climate crisis is not one that a single sector or a single industry is going to solve. It is a concerted partnership between the private sector, governments, the UN and civil society".

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The crucial role of young people was also raised, with Lecanuet noting that the younger generation now entering the workforce is more committed to sustainability and interested in the vision of business leaders to achieve sustainable goals.

After highlighting how the pandemic has negatively affected young people, with disruption to education and job opportunities, Ojiambo said: "I think we have a fantastic group of youth advocates who are not afraid to speak truth to power about how the climate crisis has been addressed and what needs to be done. I think there is a great opportunity to listen very closely to those voices and really make changes. We are sitting here making decisions for another generation. And I think it's very important to have that generation as actors and shapers in the discussion. It's important to look at both the future of work and the future of business through a different generational lens".

Text, photos and videos: Dubai Expo 2020.