UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has emphasised the important role private investors must play in transforming the global economy onto a low-carbon trajectory.
Opening a World Economic Forum session in Davos on Friday, Ban said that while the world faces a number of huge risks, such as from climate change, the solutions to these problems made for attractive investment opportunities.
“Clean energy; sustainable production and consumption and environmentally sound transport and urban planning are good for the planet, good for people and good for business”, he added.
The secretary-general said he would be hosting an “action summit” in September, where governments, businesses, investors and civil society will be invited to make new bold low-carbon commitments.
He called on private investors to capitalise on the wealth of opportunities presented by this transition.
“Private investment is essential to meeting the growing demand for energy in the developing world”, he said.
“I have been meeting with key representatives of all asset classes to discuss how they can contribute. We need in particular to win over institutional investors that collectively manage more than €70 trillion (£58 trillion) of assets. The bulk of these investments are high-carbon assets.
“These investors have the power – and I believe the responsibility – to help transform the global economy.”
As well as private investors, Ban also called on public finance and the UN’s Green Climate Fund – which was launched in his home country South Korea in December – to play their parts in helping channel investment into sustainability.
The Davos speech on Friday was not the first time the UN secretary-general has spoken out about sustainable investment. In July last year at the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street, he said, “Investment must be sustainable – delivering value not just financially, but also in social, environmental and developmental terms.”
Delegates at the World Economic Forum were told of the risks of investing in fossil fuels last week. Climate campaign group 350.org detailed the impact of the so-called carbon bubble during a session on Friday. It said that 2014 was the year the idea of ‘stranded assets’ – oil, gas and coal stocks that are unburnable if the world takes tackling climate change seriously – will become a mainstream concern.
Meanwhile, the president of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim urged financial leaders, from banks to regulators to investors, to take responsibility for the fight against climate change. He echoed 350.org’s calls for 2014 to be the year of concerted action.