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Special Edition Magazine, Fall 2019: Sustainability

From Dream to Action

During the past decade, the international community has acknowledged the threat of climate change, made a commitment to address it, and even started to develop a plan for doing so. But now, the challenge is to move all sectors of the economy past the tipping point, so that sustainability itself becomes the new "business as usual."

PARIS – The French author and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once wrote that “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” The Paris climate agreement was one such “dream.” In 2015, 197 parties gathered to make the planet great again. By concluding the first-ever universal climate agreement, the world’s governments committed to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and limiting global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

For many of us, the Paris accord was meant to be the cornerstone of a new social contract, one that could ensure a safe and decent standard of living now and in the future. Yet four years later, decision-makers still do not fully understand the urgency of the issue. We have two choices: soft-pedal our ambitions, indicating that we are happy with “business as usual,” or try something more demanding, but also much more exciting – in particular for young people, who are writing the inclusive and sustainable growth story of the twenty-first century.

By launching the One Planet Summit initiative, French President Emmanuel Macron, together with the United Nations and the World Bank, has chosen the second, more demanding path. “Results-oriented” diplomacy is about building coalitions between public- and private-sector players, starting at the local level to reinvent the sustainability agenda of international cooperation. The One Planet approach is global, strategic, and transformational, with commitments expected to be followed by real action and regular progress reports. The goal is to generate new business models in the key areas of climate, the oceans, and biodiversity.

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