How will the G20 meeting in Germany, affect corporate sustainability? Twenty of the world’s largest economies faced transitioning from polluting energy and technologies while keeping the world’s economy growing. In many ways relevant to sustainability, they missed the mark.
Training in sustainability (Sustainability Magic Bullet: Invest in Training!) is more important now than ever. Even when governments cannot organize themselves to promote sustainability, multinational corporations recognize the imperative for sustainability. They will go it alone, relying on the vision and drive of sustainability practitioners.
Missed Opportunity One – Increased Globalization with Sustainable Trade
US President Donald Trump made his first appearance at the G20 which was tasked to tackle commerce issues such as fair trade and corporate responsibility. In alignment with Germany’s focus on finance, various working groups did tout less protectionism and a uniform financial code. Both measures go contrary to past statements by Trump which can impede a more open multilateral trading system. For example, the US is posturing with China on steel production, threatening trade barriers.
Missed Opportunity Two – Unanimity on Climate Change
The G20 addressed climate change, focusing on energy, infrastructure, transport, land and industry. The need is urgent as the IEA and IRENA (international energy agencies) forecast necessary investments of US$120 trillion in energy projects between 2016 and 2050 (twice the current annual rate of $1.8 trillion a year) to achieve the Paris targets. Trump remained inflexible on the Paris Agreement, putting his long-awaited meeting with Putin ahead of the climate change session.
Missed Opportunity Three – Global Fair Labor Practices
Leading global labor unions asked the G20 leaders to consider the Bangladesh Accord on worker safety as a blueprint for promoting sustainable business practices. Led by the OECD, the Bangladesh Accord was extended to 2018 in Paris and signed by 15 major brands from the clothing and textile industry, but a global consensus remains elusive.
Despite these stumbles, Nikos Avlonas, president of the Center for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE), believes missteps will not stymie progress on climate change. “Business leaders will make sure of that,” he writes for the Sustainability Academy blog.
CSE trainings promote professional preparedness, covering global legislation and standards, foundational knowledge needed in international corporate sustainability. The next U.S. training is in New York City, Sept. 28-29, led by Nikos Avlonas, followed by Toronto, Oct. 26-27, and San Diego, Oct. 31-Nov.1.