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Chairperson’s Perspective: Shaping the board’s strategic direction on climate

The World Economic Forum and the Climate Governance Initiative, in collaboration with Deloitte, have designed guides to help equip business leaders with the knowledge and resources they need to take meaningful steps towards a sustainable future.

Shaping the board’s strategic direction on climate

Climate change is a global emergency. One that will impact every person on Earth, and a challenge which will require collaboration across the public, private and financial sectors to address. Business leaders play a crucial role in the transition to a net-zero economy and are uniquely positioned to leverage their resources to collaborate and innovate on sustainability solutions across industries and disciplines.

Boards play a vital role in guiding businesses and markets towards a more sustainable future. They provide leadership and direction to management, ensuring that long term views are captured in current decision-making. Boards must be properly educated in order to ask the right questions – know where to push and what a good answer really is. The aim is to bring together the best practices from chairpersons who are leading the way on climate, to continue pushing ambitions and raise the bar for positive action.

These guides reveal key insights from chairpersons leading climate action, consider how key stakeholder groups are responding to a climate driven future and help chairs understand the decarbonization roadmap. Each paper raises the critical questions chairpersons and board members should be asking each other and their executive leadership teams.

A panel discussion with Feike Sybesma (Royal Philips Chair), Sharon Thorne (Deloitte Global Chair) and Sheila Murray (Teck Resources Chair) accompanied the launch of these reports on Monday 25th April 2022. Hear from these leading Chairpersons and learn how their boards adopted climate governance here.

Download the three guides:

  1. The Chairperson’s Insights into Climate Action

The Chairperson’s Insights into Climate Action provides a summary of highlights from interviews with 16 members of the World Economic Forum’s Community of Chairpersons on the topic of climate action. It explores key issues and best practices for board members across strategy, risk and opportunity, stakeholders, board competence and operations in relation to climate. It provides answers to the complex questions posed during the interviews and encourages chairpersons globally to ask these questions of themselves and their boards, if they aren’t already.

Download the Chairperson’s Insights into Climate Action

  1. The Chairperson’s Guide to Climate Stakeholders

The Chairperson’s Guide to Climate Stakeholders paper puts a spotlight on how key stakeholder groups are responding to climate change and how they might respond in the future. Chairpersons must be cognisant of the various economic and existential risks presented by stakeholder reactions to climate, whether they are foreseen or unforeseen. The guide provides tools for chairpersons to consider potential high-impact reactions to their company’s operations and gain a deeper understanding of how stakeholders influence each other. The paper helps navigate the complexities presented by a diverse stakeholder network and highlights the short-term trade-offs that boards will need to make.

Download the Chairperson’s Guide to Climate Stakeholders

  1. The Chairperson’s Guide to Decarbonization

The Chairperson’s Guide to Decarbonization focuses on the role of chairpersons and boards in developing a robust climate mitigation strategy. The paper informs chairpersons of the foundational knowledge for why businesses must address climate change and provides a roadmap to thriving in a low carbon economy. Drawing on global case studies, the guide demonstrates the threats of not taking climate action, and the opportunities of embedding climate within company strategy.

Download the Chairperson’s Guide to Decarbonization

For a definition of climate terms used in the three Chairperson’s guides, visit the Glossary of Climate terms – definitions from the Chairperson’s Guides.

These guides were created in collaboration with the World Economic Forum

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