Leadership for a Sustainable Future

The AUSTRIAN WORLD SUMMIT is a top-level summit about leadership on implementing the Paris Climate Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This annual event is organized by "The Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative" office in Austria. The summit brings together international leaders from politics, businesses, investors, civil society, academics, start-ups, and climate experts as well as representatives of regions and cities from around the world.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been joined by Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, UN Secretary-General and many more international pioneers creating a positive momentum for this year's UN Climate Change Conference: COP 24 in Poland. As last year the AUSTRIAN WORLD SUMMIT served as a meeting place for “action heroes” committed to sustainability and climate protection projects. Channeling the spirit of the 2018 Talanoa Dialogue, the traditional Fijian process of community driven participatory and transparent conversation, the summit has shared ideas and experiences through storytelling, applied practical knowledge, and cutting edge technology to inspire pioneers working toward a sustainable future.

The summit successfully gained awareness for the future that benefits everyone in the global society. A healthy environment affects all aspects of society; therefore our initiative is permanently building new bridges between key stakeholders.

  • Sebastian Kurz
    Federal Chancellor of Austria
  • António Guterres
    Secretary-General, United Nations
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
    The Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative
  • Alexander Van der Bellen
    Federal President of Austria

UN Secretary General Guterres called climate change “the most systemic threat to humankind”. A threat so urgent demands leadership that is both visionary and pragmatic, that delivers decisive action to break our dependence on fossil fuels and curb greenhouse gas emissions. Leadership that is ready to engage with actors ranging from civil society to industry, from investors to voters. This panel aimed to showcase what that kind of leadership looks like, and what it can achieve. This high level discussion is entitled Solutions-Fulfilling our Goals, and it brought together political leaders who are doing just that - working hands on to achieve the aims outlined in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the SDGs.

  • Elisabeth Köstinger
    Minister of Sustainability and Tourism, Austria
  • Erna Solberg
    Prime Minister, Norway
  • Lars Løkke Rasmussen
    Prime Minister, Denmark
  • Maroš Šefčovič
    Vice-President of the European Commission for Energy Union
  • Jane Goodall
    UN Messenger of Peace

How can we bring all relevant actors on board as we seek to transform our energy systems and economies. We have identified the goals and strategies in the first panel, but do we have the instruments that will enable us to reach them? That was the key question we addressed in this enablers' panel.

  • Brune Poirson
    Secretary of State to the Minister
  • Patricia Espinosa
    Executive Secretary, UNFCCC
  • Laurent Fabius
    President of COP21
  • Howard Bamsey
    Executive Director, Green Climate Fund
  • Günther Thallinger
    Member of the Board of Management Allianz SE
  • Li Yong
    Director General, UNIDO

In the first and second panel we explored the big picture when it comes to solutions at national and international level, and we've identified some crucial enabling instruments particularly in the financial arena. In this discussion on implementation, we learned from important people who are at the forefront of making change happen about: implementing projects, building coalitions, overcoming obstacles and delivering visible change.

  • Maria Vassilakou
    Vice-Mayor, City of Vienna
  • Bertrand Piccard
    Founder, Solar Impulse
  • Fran Pavley
    Former California State Senator
  • Sui Zhenjiang
    Vice-Mayor, Peking
  • Klemens Hallmann
    CEO, Hallmann Corporate Group

A New Era of Financing Climate Action

The R20 AUSTRIAN WORLD SUMMIT presented innovative financial mechanisms to accelerate climate protection and green projects at subnational level. Enabling sustainable investments and access to funding instruments for local and regional authorities will be crucial to direct the investment capital. Financial institutions and private foundations can contribute significantly to the global movement of climate action.

The Paris Agreement addresses directly the financial flows consistent with a pathway towards a low-emission, climate-resilient development. The finance sector is a key player in directing future investments. In anticipating developments in climate policies, financial risks linked to climate change and in taking responsibility a growing number of asset owners and investors decide to divest from fossil fuels and invest in low carbon technologies. Insurance companies, banks, pension funds, as well as governments on national, regional and local level have to take climate aspects into account when it comes to future investments. This session will provide best practice examples, discuss barriers and opportunities linked to divest-invest.

  • Barbara Buchner
    Executive Director, Climate Policy Initiative
  • Kingsmill Bond
    Energy Strategist, Carbon Tracker
  • Renat Heuberger
    CEO, South Pole Group
  • Günther Thallinger
    Member of the Management Board of Allianz SE
  • Paul Chatterton
    Founder and Lead, WWF Landscape Finance Lab
  • Irene Monasterolo
    Vienna University of Economics
  • Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg
    Member of City Council Stuttgart
  • José Delgado Jimenez
    Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance
  • Harald Hirschhofer
    TCX - The Currency Exchange Fund

Accelerating investments in green infrastructure projects at the subnational level demands better collaboration, interconnection and understanding between local governments, clean tech companies and investors involved in the project development value chain. From ongoing projects in Africa to innovative financing mechanisms to support their implementation, this session will explore initiatives, strategies and instruments that are being put in place.

  • Magnus Berntsson
    R20 President, President of the AER
  • Christophe Nuttall
    CEO, R20
  • Eric Scotto
    CEO, Akuo Energy
  • Karim Keita
    Senator, Mali
  • Ulrike Rabmer-Koller
    Vice President, Austrian Federal Economic Chamber
  • Christian Brodhag
    Ecole des Mines de Saint-Etienne
  • Harry Verhaar
    Philips Lighting
  • Maroš Šefčovič
    Vice-President of the European Commission for Energy Union
  • Martin Berg
    European Investment Bank
  • Patrick Scheurle
    CEO, Blue Orchard
  • Howard Bamsey
    Executive Director, Green Climate Fund
  • Marion Verles
    CEO, Gold Standard
  • Johannes Feist
    Financial Systems Development Southern Africa and Regional Funds, KfW
  • Maria Teresa Zappia
    CIO, Blue Orchard

Foundations and charitable trusts can significantly make a difference in our society to create future solutions and to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. Yet, many of them are still financing business as usual and fail to ensure the societal benefits of their economic opportunities. In this session, we will challenge the idea that green investment is riskier and discuss ways Philanthropists, Foundations and Institutional investors can commit more of their endowments to environmental philanthropy and become real game changers in the fight against climate change.

  • Klemens Hallmann
    CEO, Hallmann Corporate Group
  • Jürgen Schneider
    Federal Environment Agency Austria
  • Barbara Meier
    Ambassador for Fair Fashion
  • Terry Tamminen
    CEO, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation
  • Johan Eliasch
    CEO Head
  • Hongwei Wang
    Green Finance Development Centre
  • John Morton
    Senior Advisor, Aligned Intermediary
  • Jack Knott
    Dean, University of California
  • Helmut Anheier
    President, Hertie School of Governance
  • Claudia Schanza

Paving the Way for New Solutions

Cities and regions are taking the lead in providing new solutions in many sectors: From building the cities of the future, to designing concepts for future mobility, and smart solutions for new energy supply models. The collaboration on subnational level becomes a major driver for the transformation in climate protection and tackling environmental pollution.

The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector is key to reach climate and energy goals. At the same time rapid urbanization is a global megatrend. Most cities are facing major challenges due to increasing population and climate change. The main areas are innovative buildings, urban planning, and integrated energy supply. High ecological building standards, low carbon technologies as well as research and education infrastructure have to create a functional ecosystem. The session will provide a big picture for a sustainable building sector and show pathways to zero emission cities.

  • Maria Vassilakou
    Vice-Mayor, City of Vienna
  • Bernd Vogl
    Head of Energy Department, City of Vienna
  • Hubert Rhomberg
    CEO, Cree by Rhomberg
  • Anton Falkeis
    CEO, Falkeis Architects
  • Jasper van den Munckhof
    Energiespring Foundation, NL
  • Diana Ürge-Vorsatz
    Central European University Budapest
  • Ingmar Höbarth
    CEO, Climate and Energy Fund, Austria
  • Klemens Schlögl
    Schöberl & Pöll

This session will focus on creating a blueprint for better collaboration between cities and their surrounding areas. Cities, as home to an increasing share of the global population, are emerging as centers of demand and consumption while their surrounding areas provide much of the resource supply. How can we ensure that the urban-rural linkage becomes a major element of sustainable development? How can we avoid the most extractive aspects of market-driven interactions? How can we help cities recognize and nurture the deeper roots beyond their administrative boundaries? How can we leverage the interactions between cities and their surroundings to co-create new social and environmental values?

  • Xenia zu Hohenlohe
    Langenburg Forum for Sustainability
  • Aniruddha Dasgupta
    Global Director, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities at the World Resources Institute
  • Joschka Fischer
    Managing Partner J F & Company
  • Alexander Mueller
    Senior Fellow, Institute for Advances Sustainable Studies
  • Kurt Weinberger
    CEO Österreichische Hagelversicherung
  • Marcel Haraszti
    Divisional Director, REWE International AG
  • Ilse Gumprecht
    Local Farmer, ZiGu
  • Hans Joachim Schellnhuber
    Director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  • Tommy Schlereth
    CEO & Archtect, Soulmade Hotels
  • Franz Mayr-Melnhof
    Chair, Mayr-Melnhof Holz Holding AG

The transformation of energy systems has already begun. With the rise of renewable energy in the electricity markets and innovative technologies, the need for more flexibility and storage options goes hand in hand with the development of new information and digital technologies. Intelligent energy systems create new infrastructure and completely new business models. Additional investments will be required as research and development labs add new solutions to the energy world. What will this new energy system look like? This session will illustrate a future picture and show concrete business opportunities on a regional and global scale.

  • Christiane Brunner
  • Rana Adib
    Executive Secretary, REN21
  • Rachel Kyte
    CEO, Sustainable Energy for All
  • Urs Harnik-Lauris
    Energie Steiermark
  • Michael Losch
    Austrian Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism
  • Olivia Goldrey
    Director for Sustainable Finance, REEEP
  • Mohua Mukherjee
    Programme Ambassador, ISA
  • Johann Prammer
    Head of Strategic Environmental Management, voestalpine AG
  • Herbert Greisberger
    CEO, Energy- and Environment Agency Lower Austria
  • Irita Opara
    Jugend eine Welt
  • H.R.H. Princess Abze Djigma
    CEO Abze Solar

In leading the transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies, the UN recognizes the importance of energy as a catalyst for economic competitiveness, as well as its inextricable interlinkages to other developmental issues including poverty eradication, food security, clean water and sanitation, health, education, prosperity, jobs creation, and the empowerment of youth and women. Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all is fundamental to human development. A shift toward sustainable energy solutions is also essential to the achievement of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

  • Karina Larsen
  • Christine Lins
    Co-Founder, GWNET
  • Tareq Emtairah
    Director, Department of Energy, UNIDO
  • Carsten Hellpap
    Director EnDev, GIZ
  • Sheila Oparocha
    Technical Group of Advisors on SDG7
  • Tania Rödiger-Vorwerk
    Deputy Director-General, BMZ
  • James Ellsmor
    Director of Solar Head of State
  • Sascha Gabizon
    Executive, Women in Europe for a Common Future
  • Rabia Ferroukhi
    Deputy Director of the Knowledge, Policy and Finance Division, IRENA
  • Minoru Takada
    Division for Sustainable Development Goals, UN
  • Sibabrata Das
    Atomberg Technologies

The Fight against Environmental Pollution

According to current scientific reports pollution causes nine million deaths per year worldwide. Air pollution exposure is the world’s single largest environmental health risk. Legal action to improve air quality becomes therefore a crucial element in implementing regulatory measures and standards.

The transportation sector is of highest relevance for global energy demand. Expecting future growth for passenger transportation and the carriage of goods are a major challenge in cities and regions. The renewable energy revolution needs to run parallel to the breakthrough of low carbon drive technologies and alternative mobility concepts. The vision of a zero emission mobility is the foundation for policy decisions, concrete measures and best-practice examples. A sustainable transportation system and investments in public infrastructure provide solutions to climate change and to a high quality standard of living.

  • Waltraud Schmid
    Head of Energy Center Vienna
  • Bertrand Piccard
    Founder, Solar Impulse
  • Markus Kreisel
    CEO, Kreisel Electric
  • Clemens Först
    CEO, Rail Cargo Austria
  • Ralf Mittermayr
    CMO, Saubermacher
  • Christina Bu
    Secretary General, Norwegian EV Association
  • Ashok Sridharan
    Mayor of Bonn and Frist Vice President of ICLEI - Local Fovernments for Sustainability

Environment protection is a powerful lever to improve human health on a global scale. In 2015, an estimated nine million deaths worldwide were related to pollution. Air pollution is by far the largest contributor to early death according to a report by The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health. Tackling pollution is a key driver to phase out coal power plants and promote renewable energy systems and energy efficiency. Especially fast growing economies such as China and India are facing major challenges. The session highlights opportunities to make a shift in combining the environmental, social and health agenda.

  • Helmut Hojesky
    Austrian Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism
  • Maria Neira
    Director, Public Health & Environment Department, WHO
  • Martin Wesian
    Founder, HELIOZ
  • Nebojsa Nakicenovic
    Deputy Director, IIASA
  • Mariusz Skiba
    Vice-Mayor of Katowice, Poland
  • Ugo Taddei
    Clean Air Project, Client Earth
  • Monika Mörth
    CEO, Federal Environment Agency Austria
  • Fran Pavley
    Former California State Senator

Movie Night at Gartenbaukino

Together with the Vienna Boys Choir Curt Faudon visited shepherds worldwide – and created a new genre: a visualized song. Powerful pictures and a poetic appeal to responsibility. Curt Faudon’s recent movie was presented at the Cannes Film Festival 2018.

High Level Speaker



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