Seven Must-Watch Virtual Sustainability Sessions from Davos

From Circular Fashion to Food Production, the EV Transition to Inclusion at Work, These Seven Sessions Live From WEF Davos are a Must-Watch

Climate disruption is the top concern for Davos attendees.

That's according to the WEF’s annual risk outlook – with extreme weather ranked as the top concern for 2024, while misinformation and disinformation leads the list of concerns over the next two years. The negative impacts of AI are also up there. 

Little surprise, then, that the the official theme for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos is 'Rebuilding Trust' and that two of the four key themes at Davos revolve around climate strategy and AI. 

Convening more than 60 heads of state and government including Chinese Premier Li Qiang, French President Emmanuel Macron, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and US Climate Advisor John Kerry, among the 2,800 attendees, the annual event will also see the world's leading finance, sustainability and technology leaders bring their solutions and insights to the Davos table.

Among those attending this year, the CEOs of some of the world’s biggest and most influential companies – from Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan to Ericsson President and CEO Borje Ekholm; JPMorgan Chase boss Jamie Dimon to IKEA chief executive Jesper Brodin; Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat to OpenAI's Sam Altman.

Sustainability leaders in the business world are also out in force – and at Sustainability Magazine, we've had the opportunity to speak to some of them on the ground at Davos – gaining valuable insights from Santhos Jayaram, the Global Head of Sustainability with HCLTech and ADNOC's Sustainability Chief, Ibrahim Al-Zu'bi, among others.

For those unable to attend the meeting, there is plenty of 'food for thought' live-streaming from the Swiss mountains – and Sustainability Leaders can tap the many sessions and programmes being held at Davos.

The next few days, from Wednesday 17 to Friday 19 January, will deliver more than a hundred sessions, with many focused on Sustainability topics and Climate Change, from green finance to green tech, and featuring the most important leaders in the field.

From decarbonising emerging markets, to advancing nature-positive solutions, and from making circular fashion 'fashionable', to delivering more sustainable food production methods, here's our pick of the must-watch live-stream sessions from Davos.


Climate and Nature: A Systemic Response Needed

When: Wednesday 17 January, 2.15pm CET

Key Speaker: CEO Ingka Group (IKEA), Jesper Brodin

Following on from the hottest year on record (1.48C above the pre-industrial averages) and COP28, world leaders at Davos are raising the temperature on calls to transform the current development models, with a focus not just on industry decarbonisation but the delivery of nature-positive systems and resource stewardship.

And this programme, hosted and led by the Centre for Nature and Climate, will ask the very serious question – how can we enable a net-zero, nature-positive future that regenerates Earth’s finite resources and safeguards its peoples?

The session convenes world leaders from across the public and private sector – including Kristalina Georgieva, the Managing Director of the IMF, Ajay S. Banga, President of the World Bank Group, and Jesper Brodin, CEO of Ingka Group (IKEA).

With an increased focus at Davos this year on indigenous inclusion and biodiversity, following on from COP28, the Chief of the Yawanawa Tribe is also on the panel.

Jesper Brodin, CEO of Ingka Group (IKEA) Will Discuss Delivering a Nature-Positive Future


Decarbonising Emerging Markets

When: Thursday, January 18, 13.15 CET

Key speaker: Bill Winters, Group CEO at Standard Chartered Bank

How to finance the net-zero transition in emerging markets is one of the world’s biggest challenges.

Emerging economies need a staggering US$5.8 trillion by 2030 if they are to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, but challenges persist in the current volatile economic and geopolitical landscape.

Deploying capital at scale, and how policy, innovation, and partnerships can accelerate progress are among challenges leaders face. As well as scaling investment, further enablers are required – including a rapid scale-up of high-integrity carbon markets.

In this session, finance experts from the public and private sector – including Bill Winters, Group CEO at Standard Chartered Bank and John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate – discuss the innovative financing models that can reduce emissions while supporting economic in developing markets.


From Waste to Wardrobe: Making Circular Fashion Fashionable

When: Thursday, January 18, 9am CET

Key Speaker: Patrice Louvet, CEO of Ralph Lauren Corporation

Fashion needs to change, and fast. The industry not only accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions but is responsible for 20% of industrial wastewater pollution. While a staggering 85% of all textiles made hit landfill each year.

As with other high-polluting industries, fashion needs a rethink – and especially around production and consumption.

Leaders from the global fashion industry, including Vogue China Editor Margaret Zhang and Ralph Lauren Corporation CEO Patrice Louvet, come together in this session to discuss solutions for the fashion footprint.

The session will focus on scaling and promoting the use recycled and regenerated materials with discussions on the most effective and impactful pathways to ‘design-out’ waste.

Ralph Lauren Corporation CEO Patrice Louvet to Discuss the Future of Fashion


First Movers Coalition for Food – toward sustainable production

When: Thursday, 18 January, 13.15pm CET

Key Speaker: Ramon Laguarta, CEO of PepsiCo

It’s no secret that food plays a big part in the climate crisis.

Globally, food and farming contribute around a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture.

And with the world’s population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, issues around food security and environmental impact are only likely to escalate.

While there is no magic bullet, funding and scaling of sustainable farming methods is widely credited as an important avenue to accelerating the transition to net-zero and nature-positive systems, while also making sure the lives of farmers and communities continue to thrive.

But less than 4% of climate finance is geared towards the food system currently. Much more investment is needed if we are to scale the production of low-carbon, nature-positive foods, from beef to dairy.

This session, organised by the First Movers Coalition for Food, will discuss how both governments and the world’s leading companies can leverage their purchasing power to push towards more sustainable production methods.

Launched during COP28 UAE in December, the First Movers Coalition for Food aims to help increase market demand for agricultural products that are sustainable and low-mission – by using combined procurement power of an estimated value of US$10 billion to US$20 billion by 2030.

In this session, hear from executives in the food industry, including Ramon Laguarta, CEO of PepsiCo, Jeffrey Lu Minfang, CEO of China Mengniu Dairy, and Megan Scarsella, Executive Director of Eleven Eleven Foundation.

Ramon Laguarta, CEO of PepsiCo


Are the Financial Risks of Climate Change Under-Priced?

When: Thursday, January 18, 4.15 CET

Key Speaker: Christian Mumenthaler, Group CEO at Swiss Reinsurance Company

In the 1980s, in the US alone – there were three US$1 billion climate disasters a year. By 2023, last year, this number had catapulted to one every two weeks.

In its annual Global Risk Report, the WEF named three key climate risks as top global challenges – extreme weather events, critical change to Earth systems (a new entrant this year) and biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse.

With climate-related financial risks incurring unprecedented costs, this session brings together public and private-sector experts to explore how decision-makers around the world are future-proofing the financial system.

Among others, hear from Steven Rijswijk, CEO of ING Group, Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP and Christian Mumenthaler, Group CEO at Swiss Reinsurance Company.


Rolling out EVs: A Marathon or a Sprint?

When: Thursday, 18 January – 3pm CET

Key Speaker: Jim Rowan, the boss of Volvo Car Corporation

While the transition to EVs is underway, and has strong momentum, with an estimated one in five cars sold in 2023 electric, there are challenges en route – with the complexity and carbon intensity of battery production taking centre stage.

The fact is, to replace the global vehicles fleet of internal combustion engines and shift to EVs, 3 billion tonnes of lithium are needed and 700 years to extract it.

In this session, automotive experts from the public and private sectors, including Zeng Yuqun, CEO of CATL and Jim Rowan, the boss of Volvo Car Corporation, come together to discuss how best to tackle emissions across the value chain.

Jim Rowan, CEO of Volvo Car Corporation


LGBTQI+ Inclusion at Work

When: Thursday, January 18, 11.30am CET

Key Speaker: Milton Cheng, the Global Chair of Baker McKenzie

Numerous studies have shown how inclusive economies and companies are more economically resilient.

Despite this, more than 40% of employers worldwide have not committed to LGBT+ inclusion.

In a 45-minute-long discussion, five experts – including Milton Cheng, the Global Chair of Baker McKenzie and the CEO of Randstad N.V., Sander van’t Noordende – will share the lessons learned in promoting an inclusive work environment and suggest breakthroughs needed in order to move forward.


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