Climate change

3 takeaways from ICC’s workshop on the Talanoa Dialogue

  • 12 February 2018
ICC Talanoa Dialogue Workshop

On 2 February 2018, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)—in its capacity as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Focal Point for business and industry—convened a workshop on the Talanoa Dialogue.

The workshop—the first of its kind—brought together a number of high-level government representatives leading the United Nations climate process, members of ICC’s Commission on Environment and Energy and other private sector stakeholders. ICC has represented business in the UN climate deliberations since 1993.

The Talanoa Dialogue marks the first time input from business and other non-Party stakeholders is to be mainstreamed into the UNFCCC deliberations. The workshop aimed to discuss what business should expect from the Talanoa Dialogue and what the private sector can in turn contribute to the process.

Here are three main takeaways from the event:

1. Business participation is essential to reaching global climate goals

“Climate change concerns everything we do at ICC, from risk to investment to corporate sustainability,” said Philip Kucharski as he kicked off the workshop’s discussion, underlining ICC’s commitment to the spirit of the Talanoa Dialogue and the Paris Agreement.

In their opening statements, government speakers were all adamant that the participation of business in the UN climate process was vital.

Deo Saran, Fiji’s Ambassador to Belgium and Permanent Representative to the European Union noted that business can help identify opportunities, inefficiencies and challenges to greater progress in the climate process and find out why there is such a distance between the targets set in the Paris Agreement and the current track we are on.

Tomasz Chruszczow, Poland’s Climate Champion said: “It is business that creates jobs, makes investment decisions. We need business to solve the challenges involved in the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Elina Bardram, Head of Unit for International Climate Negotiations at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action noted that current nationally determined contributions (NDCs) will result in a temperature increase of 2.7°C or higher, whereas the Paris Agreement commits to holding the average global temperature to “well below 2°C” above pre-industrial levels and sets a more aspirational goal to limit warming to 1.5°C.

Business is essential to helping understand this gap and to providing solutions to fill it. “Climate change is way too big for technical negotiators alone to tackle,” Ms Bardram said. “We need real-world expertise—from business and other non-Parties—inserted into the process.”

Brigitte Collet, France’s Ambassador for Climate Change Negotiations, stated: “If we don’t organise with business, we will never reach our goals.”

2. A wide coalition of business should be brought into the Talanoa Dialogue

For Mr Chruszczow, stakeholders in the climate process should ask not whether business should be included in the Talanoa Dialogue but how an even broader cross-section of business can be brought into the conversation.

Private sector participants at the workshop responded with full support to Mr Chruszczow’s suggestion, noting that, while company CEOs are often on board with the urgent need for climate action, including the next level of managers at the operational level could enact change at a more granular level.

“[Beyond CEOs,] Chief Operating Officers, Chief Supply Chain Officers—people who can really tell you what is needed and who would be in charge of deploying the operational change—need to be part of the conversation,” said Justin Perrettson, Senior Advisor at Novozymes.

Ms Collet also noted the potential for greater geographical diversity in the business voices that participate in the Talanoa Dialogue, and that it would be valuable to have broad business representation.

As the world business organization, ICC is well-placed to facilitate the mobilisation and inclusion of a broad base of business involvement and expertise, not only at the international but also at the national level, emphasized Majda Dabaghi, Senior Policy Executive for ICC’s Commission on Environment and Energy. ICC is the world’s largest business organisation with a network of over 6 million members in more than 100 countries.

This, coupled with ICC’s role as UNFCCC Focal Point for business and industry and Observer Status at the UN General Assembly, means that ICC is uniquely positioned not just to contribute the business perspective on issues of climate change but to connect that perspective across a wide range of global topics, with inputs from all business sectors.

3. Climate action not only makes solid business sense, it’s the right thing to do

Climate change deeply matters to business, both because the changes it inflicts on the world pose new risks to existing business models and because a global transition towards a low-carbon economy opens vast and exciting new markets. “Searching for low-carbon solutions is a business opportunity and early adopters will have an advantage over those who seek to adapt later,” said Ms Collet.

Mr Saran noted evidence that growth and sustainability can be achieved while reducing carbon emissions. Both his remarks and those of business affirmed that the two goals are not mutually exclusive. The Talanoa Dialogue is a unique opportunity to showcase best practices and share know-how so that tried and tested solutions can be replicated to help us move forward. Taking action on climate change is not only smart business; it is the right thing to do.

The continued momentum from business sends a clear signal to governments that they can, and should, move further and faster on their national climate strategies. In countries where business has had the opportunity to provide inputs on NDCs, the process can already be seen to have benefitted from such engagement. To ensure that the international community is successful in achieving the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, it is imperative that business be recognised and involved in policy assessment, design and implementation.

All speakers at the workshop highlighted the importance of building coalitions and taking collective action. In his closing comments, Mr Saran stated: “The concept of the Talanoa Dialogue is that, by working together, we can achieve more than our collective efforts. Business is part of that solution. We are all in the same canoe.”

About the Talanoa Dialogue

The Talanoa Dialogue, previously referred to as the Facilitative Dialogue, is named after the Fijian tradition of inclusive, participatory and transparent decision-making and is aimed at determining how collective action can move the global climate agenda forward. It is a year-long process of discussions, consultations, events and expert inputs that will culminate at this year’s 24th Conference of Parties (COP24) in Katowice, Poland on 3-14 December 2018.

The Talanoa Dialogue portal is now open and ICC will be preparing a submission before the first deadline of 2 April 2018.

ICC recently submitted recommendations to the UNFCCC that would enhance business engagement in the UNFCCC process to allow the Parties to benefit from the experience and expertise of business.