COP26 through the eyes of young Deloitters has been saved
COP26 through the eyes of young Deloitters
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26)
Climate change will impact each and every one of us. Standing in the train on the way to COP26 with people from all parts of the globe sharing experiences and discussing their vision of the world is a unique reminder that we should all be working towards a common goal – a rapid, responsible, and equal climate change transition. Let’s run at it.
In the weeks running up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, stark warnings from scientists made clear that we are running out of time. We, as three young Deloitters representing the Sustainability MDM, were fortunate enough to join the launch of what has been mentioned as one of the most critical turning points in our history. During our time in Glasgow, we have been the eyes and ears of Deloitte, following events on the ground from our young generation’s eyes, and bringing fresh perspectives to the table. All eyes are on the global leaders present at the event, with the world expecting (and asking) them to make life-changing decisions and we had the opportunity to join some of these conversations. We have spoken to young climate leaders running between negotiation rooms zone all day, CEOs that face the challenges of how to navigate their organizations in light of this global crisis, and climate leaders that are extremely and profoundly motivated to bring humanity on a brighter course towards climate change. In this blog, we want to share our experience on the ground and reflect on the key learnings that we will bring back with us, especially the unique role Young Leaders can play in the climate transition, as well as how Deloitte can support the global climate community and its clients towards a more equitable and sustainable world.
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Understanding where things happen
Hosted in the heart of Glasgow, the COP26 will be delivered across two mains sites - the Scottish Events Campus (SEC) (referred to as the Blue Zone) and the Glasgow Science Centre (the Green Zone) – as well as many other locations in and outside of Glasgow. The Green Zone is a space open to the general public, youth groups, civil society, academia, artists, and businesses, and is filled with diverse exhibits and events that promote dialogue and awareness on climate action. The Blue Zone is a UN-managed space where “all the magic happens” and where all eyes of the world are pointing. This space hosts the negotiations over climate change agreements and actions, which brings together delegations and observers from 197 Parties. The Blue Zone is only accessible to Ministers, government officials and other accredited individuals, covering this area with a certain sense of mysticism and curiosity about the discussions happening behind closed doors.
What is expected from the event
We have asked climate leaders about their expectations from the event in general and from the negotiations taking place between governments. The common view is that, independent of the outcome of the negotiations, the COP26 (and all other COP’s) play a significant role in raising awareness around climate change and showcasing the importance of the climate debate to the broader public. We heard a strong call to both public and private organizations to ramp up their actions towards a just and equitable transition, with the desire to see results in the short-term. Whereas the COP21 in Paris is seen as the crucial moment where the foundations of the war against climate change were laid, climate leaders expect from the COP26 to provide a clear and short-term action plan that will place Humanity on the correct trajectory (which is far from the case today…).
“The time is running out if we want to reach our ambitions – we need to agree on a short-term plan and start working on it now.”
Emphasize is also put on the need to not only focus our efforts on climate mitigation actions, but to also work with local and developing communities on climate adaptation measures, as climate change already started impact the lives of many people in need.
An event reflecting the complexity of the climate change crisis
The importance and complexity of the climate change crisis are surely becoming common knowledge, and the immense scale of the COP26 is a powerful reminder of the task at hand. With over 200 public events scheduled over two weeks, the number of topics that need to be tackled is astonishing, with subjects spanning from climate resilience and adaptation, the role of local communities, innovation in nature-based solutions, the importance of financial institutions, the impact of climate change on Equity and Human rights, but also discussions around how music or sports can help spread climate knowledge, and much more. Each of the topics around climate change are greatly intricate. Taking the example of Clean Water, which plays a central role in the COP’s discussions, the impact of climate-induced water poverty has ramifications leading to lower access to basic health practices, increased poverty, lower education levels, and diminished women rights, just to name a few. Such complexity is a testament of the collaboration required from all actors of our societies and industries in order to take the actions that will have a sustained impact at the system level.
The unique role that Young Leaders can (and need to) take
It became very clear in Glasgow how young generations all over the world feel unheard and pressure their global leaders to act now. As pointed out during many conversations, we are the generation that will feel the growing impact of climate change, but also the last generation whose actions can decide whether the world reaches its 2050 targets or not. Another question we heard from the many young leaders we spoke to is whether real change is going to happen inside the safe borders of the COP26 conference. Hearing pledges and statements from some of the most powerful leaders in the world sound promising and inspiring, but the question is how the youth can hold them accountable for those promises made. The youth, however, is ready to act and is doing so more than ever. This passion and drive is being seen by our climate leaders and many of them expressed the importance of the young generation in pushing for more results and using our untamed creativity to find innovative solutions.
“Pick a problem, and run at it hard”
They encourage us to find the space we are truly passionate about and embark on a journey we will probably never forget where we shouldn’t take no for an answer – the impact we can make is too great to compromise.
How Deloitte is supporting the transition
Thanks to the immense network of people at Deloitte, we had the chance to join several of our senior leaders in their journey at the COP26. We were able to grasp the important role our firm is playing in the climate transition and the key position Deloitte has in the conversations happening between world leaders. Through our ability to form and orchestrate networks and ecosystems, as well as with our power to drive transformations at our clients, Deloitte is able to bring together stakeholders that have the ability to tackle the most important challenges of our time and lead them towards impactful changes. The central role we are able to play translates into an exponential increase of sustainability related engagements and growing teams all around the world. From a niche offering operating in the basements of our offices only a decade ago, our sustainability services are now recognized internationally and Deloitte is now working with some of the most important actors of our society to help them navigate the climate crisis.
Back in the Netherlands, our journey to accelerate action did not stop. Together with six young Deloitte professionals, we have attended the "Tomorrow is now" innovation session in Amsterdam, where we took up challenging topics and got into action in a pressure cooker with young thinkers, answering how Deloitte can accelerate action. After the innovation session, we had an inspiring dialogue with Hans Honig, CEO Deloitte Netherlands, in which we discussed our experiences and key takeaways from COP26. This conversation showed that our leadership is open to be challenged by young professionals and ready to step up in the transition needed.
Having the chance to join the COP26 in Glasgow was an opportunity of a lifetime, and experiencing the collective desire to change the course of our history is a feeling no one can forget. The discussions happening around such an event bring an incredible range of perspectives and innovative ideas, and the energy with which young generations are devoting themselves to solve the climate crisis is truly inspiring and can only give us a bit of hope for our planet. Climate change will impact each and every one of us. Standing in the train on the way to the venue with people from all parts of the globe sharing experiences and discussing their vision of the world is a unique reminder that we should all be working towards a common goal – a rapid, responsible, and equal climate change transition. Let’s run at it.