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The burning of fossil fuels for energy is the largest single source of global greenhouse gas emissions. So, any effort to mitigate climate change must involve energy efficient strategies. After all, the easiest and cheapest clean energy solution lies in the energy that we don’t use.

Being from Denmark - a small, cold, and wet Nordic country that is barely above sea-level - I was sensitized early to the connections between climate conditions and water, from the power of coastal storms to the importance of flood controls. What I have learned since, as an international waters specialist, is just how interlinked water pressures and climate change are, and why we need to work together to respond to both.

Investing in trees and forests combats global warming and provides good financial returns.

The best way to tackle climate change may come naturally. For years, solutions have focused on clean energy technology, including electrifying transport and driving down the cost of wind and solar power.

But the conservation and sustainable management of nature are now recognised as the other critical pathway to a climate-positive future, which on balance, benefits rather than damages the climate and can also help us protect biodiversity and water. 

The fashion industry must be ahead of the curve in tackling the climate and biodiversity crises

This is being described as the “super-year”, with 2020 seen as pivotal – when binding decisions will be made on climate and nature by the world’s governments at international policy meetings.

In an interview with The Economist Group’s World Ocean Initiative, Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF, calls for a fundamental rethink in our relationship with the environment to support a sustainable economy and social well-being.

Please could you provide a brief overview of the Global Environment Facility?

  • The nature loss and climate change crises are fundamentally interlinked.
  • Hundreds of companies are committed to reducing their emissions.
  • Today, a growing number of firms want to broaden this to reduce their impact on the natural world.
  • The Science Based Targets Network aims to help firms facilitate these changes.
  • Instead of being seen as pressure points for the environment, cities could be planned as innovation hubs
  • National governments must lead the move towards inclusive and sustainable cities, through initiatives such as carbon pricing and tax policies

We are in the age of urbanization. For the first time in human history, over half the world’s population now lives in cities; within a generation, urban areas will be the dominant drivers of global consumer demand and natural resource use.

Business and governments cooperating and working together will build a prosperous, green economy

The 2020s must be the climate decade. We need rapidly to identify what every government and every business can do to help us get to zero-carbon.