As global ministers and high-level delegates arrived in Cancun over the weekend, they landed amid encouraging signs that progress in key areas could be made by the end of this week’s talks. While the future of the Kyoto Protocol remains uncertain, the draft text for a potential Long-Term Cooperative Action (LCA) agreement was released on Saturday. Although not a globally binding agreement that so many developing countries are calling for, the document recognizes that “deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science,” and includes key issues such as mitigation, adaptation, verification, technology development and transfer, forests, and finance. While the critical issues are represented, in some areas, the draft text puts forth multiple options that reflect the different positions of the negotiating countries. While vulnerable nations implore the negotiators to move faster on climate commitments, expectations and progress remain modest and are quietly moving forward.

Down the road from the Moon Palace, there are many other events and conversations taking place for those that want to take action now to address climate change challenges and move toward a low-carbon economy. Weekend events brought country ministers, UN representatives, agricultural and development professionals, producer associations, and researchers and scientists to discuss the current and future states of agriculture, forests, oceans, and development. With the backdrop of COP-16, such events aimed to focus high-level attention on the links among climate adaptation and mitigation, and natural resource conservation, sustainable agriculture, and poverty. These events also provided a dynamic forum for panelists and participants to discuss innovative solutions, outstanding knowledge gaps, and what is needed from policy, capacity-building, and resource perspectives to increase overall climate resiliency.

At WBCSD’s Global Business Day, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres kicked off the day with recognition of the business community’s efforts to date to reduce GHG emissions, and a call for even bolder action. Figueres outlined the following ways business can lead:

On this last point, Figueres underscored that any progress toward a global agreement must be preceded by domestic policy at home, which necessarily predetermines to what country negotiators can and cannot commit. With our current system, this is the private sector's key point of influence. Throughout the remainder of the day, panelists discussed examples, opportunities, and challenges for the private sector to be more involved in the dialogue and how business can increase its ability to provide the tools, mechanisms, and technologies needed to reduce climate impact and vulnerability.

While most eyes are focused on the negotiations taking place inside the Moon Palace to set us on a path toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient future, the diverse parties and conversations outside offer insight into emerging needs; the ability to develop (or harness), implement, and scale innovative solutions; and the appetite to forge new partnerships that will allow us to get there.

  • Reduce carbon footprints up and down the value chain by working with suppliers and educating and providing more climate-friendly products and services for consumers.
  • Drive and enable sector transformation through technology innovations.
  • Engage governments back home before the next COP.