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VIDEO: Harnessing private enterprise for climate compatible development

On Thursday 30th April, we held a conversation with an international panel comprising pioneers of the transformational B Corp movement in South America and leaders in the world of impact investment in renewable energy and telecommunications in Africa and UK – to explore the role that non-State actors from business and finance can play in low carbon development and poverty reduction; and the enabling conditions necessary for scale and impact.

Now you can watch the video of this event below or read about it in our event report.

Panelists included:

Juan Pablo Larenas (Chile) Executive Director of Sistema B;  co-founder of Late! company

Pedro Tarak (Argentina), co-founder of Sistema B; investor and Board member of Guayaki company

Jonathan Treacher (Uganda and UK), Chairman of Africa Power

Pippa Heylings, CDKN Lead on Climate Compatible Development Policy and Practice

The event was moderated by Simon Maxwell, Executive Chair, CDKN.

Actions by the government and the non-profit sector are necessary but insufficient to address society’s greatest challenges, including climate change. “Business, the most powerful man-made force on the planet, must create value for society, not just shareholders. Systemic challenges require systemic solutions and the B Corp movement offers a concrete, market-based and scalable solution”, said Pedro Tarak, co-founder of Sistema B, which makes up a part of the movement that is transforming the way companies do business.

“In South America, we are solving collective environmental and social problems with the power of markets and now we want to harness the power of private enterprise to create global public goods, such as climate change mitigation, and address poverty reduction”.

Although Sistema B only started 36 months ago, it is now active in five countries in South America with over 160 certified B Corps [members] and more than 500 companies in process of application. In December 2014, Brazil’s top cosmetics, fragrance and toiletries maker, Natura, became the largest – and first publicly traded – company to attain B Corp certification and consumer goods giant Unilever is considering becoming the next one.

“But what is even more staggering is the scale that can be achieved through changes to procurement policies along the supply chain. Many large companies that are looking to use the integrated B Impact Assessment tool to measure the degree of sustainability of procurement policies of thousands of suppliers” said Mr Tarak. “These companies might become cutting edge competitors in emerging markets thanks to the catalytic and market networking role of Sistema B. We welcome this opportunity to explore with CDKN and partners the ways to shape and influence industries and companies so that they evolve into B Corps with a low carbon and poverty reduction approach”.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, CDKN’s Business Partnership programme is supporting an innovative business and investment initiative for climate compatible development: the provision of renewable off-grid energy for irrigation and telecommunications, two key issues for rural development. Although renewable power systems have been developed and tested in Africa, no-one has created a viable business model to provide remote off-grid community power without subsidies.

To achieve this CDKN is working with Africa Power, an independent provider of power systems in rural areas of emerging economies; Sunflower Pump; and Sincronicity Power, which installs and maintains power systems for cell-phone towers. The initiative aims to test the cost model for providing renewable off-grid power systems to: power a village cell phone tower, a solar powered drip-irrigation system and 200 hundred solar household power systems for lighting and cell phone charging. If successful, the opportunity for scale and impact is significant. These companies are also looking at the financial sustainability of the creation of, and investment in, an off-grid power company – a completely new business venture.

We hosted this conversation among pioneering companies and leaders to understand the role that they see for business and finance as non-State actors to further climate compatible development – and to explore the enabling conditions necessary for achieving scale and impact. We hope you enjoy the video and leave your comments below.


Image: quayside industry, courtesy World Bank image library.

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