February 19, 2024

Five Takeaways from GLOBE Forum 2024

Solutions for a regenerative, just, net-zero economy offer hope and opportunity despite economic stress, political uncertainty and environmental crises. Prioritizing ambitious action over perfection is crucial. Collective action and dialogue need to continue among businesses, governments, Indigenous Nations, and civil society to be successful.

These were some themes from the 2024 GLOBE Forum in Vancouver last week. Below, are five takeaways from the event.

1. Indigenous Reconciliation Begins with Respect

Indigenous Peoples are original land stewards and well-positioned to lead conservation efforts, having built knowledge for centuries based on careful and intimate interactions with nature. As the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is implemented and Indigenous ways of knowing are more widely recognized for their value since time immemorial, First Nations are regaining control and ownership of their ancestral lands. These lands can come with immense liabilities, often in the form of degraded ecosystems. There will be meaningful opportunities for capital markets participants to support restoration and stewardship through partnerships.

2. Natural Assets Increasingly Come with a Price Tag

Natural asset inventories refer to the stock of diverse resources and ecosystems found in our forests, land and oceans, which contribute to our well-being and prosperity. Increasingly, nature is being valued as an asset class, thereby supporting conservation and restoration. For example, HSBC Asset Management and Pollination launched natural capital funds in 2022 that now total over USD 1 bn.

Initial challenges to valuing natural capital related to the reliability of pricing, however new tools and standards are emerging. For example, the National Assets Initiative is working to define natural assets and provide adaptation guidance, encouraging communities and corporations to understand natural resources from a value standpoint.

3. Canada Can Lead in Low-Carbon Supply Chains

With a growing focus on scope 3 greenhouse (GHG) gas emissions, supply chain actors are under pressure to decarbonize. Canada was recently ranked as the top global leader for its potential to build a secure, reliable and sustainable EV battery supply chain (BloombergNEF). This week, Canada’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Jonathan Wilkinson, further improved the outlook by announcing a plan to optimize the regulatory and permitting processes for mining projects. Meaningful partnerships with Indigenous Nations aimed at shared, long-term and sustained prosperity are essential to realizing Canada’s critical mineral advantage (CBC).

Canada is also home to the Net Zero Supply Chain Initiative, a group of transportation leaders aiming to deliver Canada’s first net-zero supply chain pilot. The group includes players from marine shipping and ports to rail and trucking, all working together to decarbonize Canada’s freight-transportation supply chain.

4. Small and Medium Enterprises Need to Act

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) make up 99.8 percent of Canadian businesses and were responsible for 41 percent of Canada’s GHG emissions in 2020, according to the Business Development Bank of Canada. To progress toward our national emission reduction goals, SMEs need to be a part of the conversation. However, they are often deterred by costs and scarce resources – including the people, capital and knowledge – to take action.

Providing incentives and tailored guidance is essential to connect the business case and climate imperative. SMEs need access to ESG knowledge and training, easy-to-use tools, tailored advice and partnerships to progress on their ESG journeys. British Columbia’s new ESG Centre of Excellence, ESG micro-credential programs and training opportunities offered by local academic institutions are good examples of enabling progress.

5. Greenhushing is a Losing Game

The politicization of ESG, greenwashing and lack of progress are some reasons that companies are quieting their sustainability actions and ambitions. This response, sometimes called “greenhushing,” is not a good strategy. Forthcoming mandatory disclosure standards, such as IFRS S1 and S2, will force increased transparency for many companies, leading to better accountability for actions and progress, or lack thereof.

With over a decade of experience in the market, Quinn+Partners is well-positioned to help you advance on your ESG journey. Get in touch to accelerate your action with trusted experts.