"Making our societies more climate resilient must be the guiding principle for any future recovery plan responding to the global COVID-19 crisis." Klaus Milke, chairman of the Steering Group of the F20 platform and founder of Stiftung Zukunftsfähigkeit (Foundation for Sustainability), talks about some of the opportunities offered by the current crisis.
The foundations and philanthropists that are part of the international foundations platform F20 are aware of the negative effects of the unprecedented and deep COVID-19 crisis. They will try to be part of future-oriented recovery measures. They encourage decision-makers at all levels of the G20 process, in particular the G20 Sherpa and Finance Minister tracks, to adopt decisions and programs to build resilience and to recover better from the current crisis.
Klaus Milke, chairman of the Steering Group of F20, is the founder and chairman of Stiftung Zukunftsfähigkeit (Foundation for Sustainability), based in Bonn, Germany. A graduate in economics, sociology, and political science, he served on the executive board of a medium-sized company and is today consulting governments, corporates, and civil society groups. Through consultancy, moderation, and advocacy work, he is active in various networking and campaigning processes mainly on climate and energy as well as on the implementation of the SDGs of the 2030 Agenda “in, with, and from” Germany.
It must be clear and well understood that mankind is able to combat the COVID-19 crisis not only through national health services, ventilators, or vaccines, but also by making our societies more resilient. We cannot negotiate with nature. The best medicine against inequity, poverty, pollution, and the climate crisis are a global just transition and the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. We have to acknowledge that there are non-linear trends of biodiversity loss or temperature increase in the Earth system, and it is obvious that we are breaching tipping-points of our national health and social systems, too.
The year 2020 is central to international climate protection in order to counteract global warming that can no longer be contained. The latest findings from the IPCC show that the CO2 budget that is still available to meet the Paris Agreement’s climate goals is smaller than previously thought. It is necessary to act much faster and more powerfully. The opportunity must now be seized to close the glaring gap between the goals of the Paris Agreement (with its < 2° Celsius limit) and the contributions that have been made so far. This must also provide the basis for every economic stimulus program in response to the global corona crisis.
"The best medicine against inequity, poverty, pollution, and the climate crisis are a global just transition and the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals."
On the eve of the G20 ministers’ virtual meetings in April 2020, F20 recommended to proceed in line with the three Key Asks & Messages as worked out by experts from the International Climate Politics Hub (ICP Hub):
- deepening international cooperation;
- recovery packages for a healthier society and planet;
- recovery and finance decisions.
It is a good sign that the goal of making our societies more climate resilient as a guiding principle for any future recovery plan has been the subject of many statements and contributions at this year’s Petersberg Climate Dialogue.
Initiated by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, this conference took place virtually on April 27–28 and included more than 30 environmental ministers, heads of state, and the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres.
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"What the world needs now is solidarity. With solidarity we can defeat the virus and build a better world," said #UnitedNations Secretary-General @antonioguterres on Tuesday, as he launched a report on the socio-economic impacts of #COVID19. "The world is facing an unprecedented test. And this is the moment of truth. Everything we do during and after this crisis must be with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change, and the many other global challenges we face. We must see countries not only united to beat the virus but also to tackle its profound consequences." #coronavirus #GlobalGoals #ClimateAction
There is indeed no simple going back to the old normal. If we want to cope with the massive impact on our global and local economies, economic stimulus packages must be based on the premises of sustainability and incentivize higher ambition for climate action. The G20 countries have to take the lead as they contribute some 80% to global emissions.
The global Corona crisis offers the opportunity to move towards sustainable transformation or else we will be creating the basis for future crises due to immense environmental pollution, extinction of biodiversity leading to severe impact on global food production, water shortage, energy crisis, extreme weather events, or everything combined.
F20 Foundations Platform
The F20 platform consists of more than 60 foundations and philanthropic organizations from different parts of the world. The BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt is part of the platform’s Steering Group. The F20’s focus is on issues related to climate change, renewable energy, and shrinking space for civil society organizations. F20 wants to be part of the solution and build bridges between civil society, the business and financial sectors, think tanks, and politics – both within and between the G20 countries, and beyond.
In her keynote speech at the 11th Petersberg Climate Dialogue, perhaps one of the most important climate conferences this year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized that biodiversity and climate are key and should be linked and addressed together. Green recovery plans should aim at increasing the climate resilience of our societies and also lay the foundations for ambitious climate action and safeguarding global biodiversity.
This would entail reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving net zero emissions; implementing a just transition and creating high-quality jobs; cutting pollution and investing in adaptation against worsening climate impacts; phasing out direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies at a time of historically low oil prices; catalyzing the growth of green industries and incentivizing private-sector investment in low-carbon sectors; and investing in the protection and restoration of ecosystems, sustainable agriculture, and food systems.
"The G20 countries have to take the lead as they contribute some 80% to global emissions."
Chancellor Merkel closed by saying: “The 17 SDGs of the 2030 Agenda – including health and climate protection – make it very clear that sustainable development cannot be pursued by sacrificing individual goals, but that we always have to think and act on them in concert.” The implementation of the SDGs is the core priority of F20, and so the German Chancellor is absolutely in line with this.
On the occasion of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, 68 German companies called for more ambitious programs on climate action and emphasized the need for climate stimulus programs. This initiative was coordinated by Foundation 2° (Stiftung 2 Grad), which is representing important German entrepreneurs.
And there’s a further positive development: During the last weeks, the European Commission, led by President Ursula von der Leyen, stated very clearly that, in these times of COVID-19, we must be on track for fulfilling the European Green Deal on climate and sustainability.
The international F20 platform consisting of more than 60 foundations mainly from G20 countries is ready to feed positive and encouraging ideas into the G20 process this year during the G20 presidency of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. But F20 is also preparing for the recovery year 2021 – a very European year with COP26 and G7 scheduled to take place in the UK and G20 to be held in Italy.