Investment COP: top 5 takeaways

On 13th/14th November, we attended the 2-day World Climate Foundation Investment COP, a parallel side-event to COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh. The core themes running through COP27 were mirrored in the Investment COP, but with specific focus on how to increase climate investment and connect the right funds to the right stakeholders, regions and impacted parties to enable real change and sustainable solutions.

Lack of knowledge leads to lack in confidence and investment

This sparked fierce debate around how the industry can create mechanisms that allow green funding while balancing risk and return for investors and pension funds. To put it simply, the resonating message was that in the cutthroat and bottom-line-focused industry of financial giants, there is simply not enough knowledge or expertise yet to truly understand and back sustainable projects and innovation.

The crux of the problem from an investment angle is that financial firms and investors still perceive low (or, at a minimum, uncertain) return from climate projects. This is more prevalent in developing countries that ironically need funding the most to tackle the real-time impacts of global warming.

Funding conundrums aside, discussion kept coming back to the same key topics:

Collaboration – Public-Private partnerships and shared ideas and solutions between all stakeholders is absolutely critical: governments, businesses and other actors/NGOs must stop working in silos and collaborate to deliver sustainable change

Policy – Improvements in global government policies are needed to incentivize change, with focus on a regulated and standardized carbon pricing market

Education – Knowledge is essential to ensure all actors involved can make the right decisions and achieve scalable models for green funding

Adaptation – We need to address a ‘just transition’ to net-zero including solutions for mitigation but also adaptation, resonating with the loss and damage conversations that have dominated the primary COP discussions

Action – We absolutely must move from speculation to true action to tackle the climate crisis and ‘keep 1.5 alive’

I’m sure it’s not just me, but these themes sound strangely familiar. The closing keynote on the roadmap to COP28 delivered by a representative from Dubai literally went as far as to describe the vision of COP28 as ‘moving from negotiations to implementation’, which felt a bit on the nose given that this was taken verbatim from the mission statement of COP27.

This, coupled with the frankly ludicrous fact that some countries in the formal COP27 negotiations want to do away with the 1.5 degree target altogether as it is not achievable, is just not good enough. What was supposed to be a solutions-focused COP feels like it has gone backwards.

A gradual shift in the right direction?

However, to err on the side of optimism, all may not yet be lost. The positive is the right things are being said, and (albeit much slower than is required) we are gradually shifting focus from talk to solutions. Amidst all the repetition and conjecture, we did see some well-considered and inspirational examples from diverse industries on how we can work together to achieve the ‘race to real zero’.

Source: Unsplash

For us at Aura, our top 5 takeaways from the event we can apply to the packaging industry are as follows:

1. ‘Radical Transparency’: Commitments must be credible, and we must be able to demonstrate tangible proof that we are delivering and not just greenwashing

2. Data is King: claims mean nothing without lack of convincing data and comparable metrics, and this is making it impossible to make informed strategic decisions

3. Digital Enablement: technology is the only way to deliver the scale and granularity we need to truly track and deliver on net zero commitments

4. Education: responsible and consistent education is imperative for industry stakeholders and consumers alike to allow informed decisions based on facts rather than perception

5. Action: We must go beyond proof of concept and have the courage to transform our ideas into action, even if that means taking a risk

Above all, we need to all hold each other accountable for delivering real change and eliminating greenwashing, in the packaging industry and beyond.

We can’t just settle with achieving initial targets, we must collectively keep pushing them further and challenging each other to do more. One of the most resonating and sincere calls to action came at the closing of the summit, with the panel’s main hope being for COP28 to focus on real, tangible solutions going beyond ‘fake solutions’ such as carbon offsetting or carbon capture & storage.

As was succinctly stated, 1.5 degrees should be the limit, not the target. I firmly believe we all have a part to play in making this a reality: no matter how small or large our reach, we should all be striving to impact change every day.

About the Author

Gill is a lead consultant, dedicated to providing clients with sustainable packaging strategy, process mapping / improvement and decoding the complex arena of global packaging regulation. She has experience across fmcg, food service and branded clients globally, implementing teams, processes and strategies to drive efficiency while ensuring transparency and integrity of packaging data through technology. Her solution-led, detail-oriented and collaborative approach ensures our clients receive the best possible advice to meet their sustainability targets and reduce waste - in all senses of the word.