The Conference

The summit took place under the patronage of the Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, supported by the Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern together with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Climate Initiative, who also held keynotes at the high-level session.

High-Level Session

The high-level session was completed by keynotes of leading UN and WHO experts, such as Li Yong, Director General, UNIDO, Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC, Maria Neira, Director, Public Health and Environment Department, WHO and Erik Solheim, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

In subsequent panels the most important challenges on behalf of climate change and possible solutions where discussed among others by Laurent Fabius, President of COP21 in Paris, Vidar Helgesen, Minister of Climate and Environment from Norway, Ashok-Alexander Sridharan, Mayor of Bonn or Christophe Nuttall, CEO, R20 Regions of Climate Action.

Panel 1

Business meets policy.
Why addressing climate change is good for environment, health, economy and society.

In times of massive changes feasible business and policy solutions for global challenges are crucial. Therefore, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent the most ambitious global framework in history.

Leading policymakers and business people discussed how a sustainable transformation of the political and economic system can benefit human health, the environment, economy and society. We learned about new business models, innovative products, services and partnerships from companies focused on energy technology, production, infrastructure and insurance. Policymakers from different countries presented how to use ambitious policies and incentives to transform conventional systems while creating jobs and economic growth. We saw who’s on track meeting the 2030 targets and which countries are leading the way. The panelists dealt with the questions about the need to concentrate more efforts going forward and how the future world of business looks like.

Panel 2

Solutions in cities and regions.
Strategies and best practice examples to prepare for the future.

Air pollution has become the world´s single largest environmental health risk, linked to around 7 million or nearly one in eight deaths per year according to the WHO. Municipalities of cities and regions have the key role to create the path of future global development to prevent such risks. As the closest level of government to the people, they also have the capacity to transform lives directly. More than half of the global population lives in cities, and this level is expected to increase to two-thirds by 2050. Today, cities are responsible for 80% of the global Gross Domestic Product but they also consume two-thirds of the world’s energy and generate over 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. We need healthier places to live. This panel showed how we can redesign cities and rural regions in a way that is truly sustainable and what kinds of solutions have high global replicability for scaling up.

Panel 3

Best of sustainable projects.
What are driving factors in practice to moving fast forward?

Climate change is already affecting our health. This isn’t a future problem for the next generation. It is a problem that is present and growing. Among the most vulnerable groups are children, student athletes, pregnant women, elderly, people with chronic health conditions and the impoverished. The problems will get much worse as climate change continues. This panel showed solutions for people who live in impoverished areas. It gave insight into the landscape of best practice projects and showed solutions and innovative partnerships to build and promote sustainable projects in different parts of the world. The thematic focus was lying on the access to affordable and sustainable energy solutions in developing countries but also in crisis areas which is critical in delivering sustainable goals. Energy access is a basic human need and helps to generate jobs, improve education, empower women and enable businesses to grow. In this panel experts tried to find out about crucial issues and success factors in implementing projects with social and environmental impact. They also discussed which barriers need to be tackled to ensure a more global uptake.

Panel 4

How climate projects attract financing?
Accelerate the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

One specific aim of the Paris Agreement is “making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development." This is a clear signal for business and governments to speed up their efforts towards decarbonisation. In 2016, investment in renewable energies was twice the amount of that in fossil fuel generation. At the same time, clean technology costs continue to fall. Nevertheless, for achieving a complete transition towards de-carbonizing economies a big financing gap is still evident. CEOs discussed what incentives would it need for companies to more assertively move away from fossil fuels and whether the financial sector is up for the task. Further more they tried to find answers whether innovative finance mechanisms are needed to stimulate climate-relevant investments or whether we have the tools required already at hand and need to encourage a more efficient and frequent use.



Riem Higazi

Moderation, ORF

Alice Tumler

Alice Tumler

Moderation, ORF



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