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The Power of ESG Partnerships : World Economic Forum Recap 

Ben Romberg

Ben Romberg

Client Strategy Director | ESG | Technology | ABM

The evidence is everywhere: collaboration is key to solving the climate crisis. If you missed the Sustainable Brands webcast on the topic or my other article related to this, I’m back to reinforce the message with some new learnings—and actionable tips—based on what came out of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting last week.  

This year in Davos, Switzerland, under the title “Cooperation in a Fragmented World,” the World Economic Forum not only brought key players together, they gave way to a host of new and critical partnerships and collaborative platforms that left me with a sense of cautious optimism.  

Unlikely partnerships may be the most fruitful 

Somewhat unexpectedly, Davos saw oil and gas tycoons cozying up to clean energy leaders to problem-solve around energy transition. Tejpreet Chopra, head of one of India’s clean energy firms, Bharat Light and Power, was quoted as saying: “The course of this transition will have to take a more inclusive approach until we all get to the finish line of where we all want to be.” 

Not everyone agreed and some climate activists were vocal about the risk of relying on fossil fuel producers to lead the change. However, we can’t afford to work in silos given the urgency of the situation. Funding for clean technology and climate solutions is needed and engaging as many players as possible can help accelerate the transition.  

Inspiring young leaders are driving change 

Among the most inspirational collaborations were the different groups of youth activists present this year. One group of 26 nature and climate youth leaders—a majority of who are women—came together to align on solutions related to nature and climate education, advocacy, innovation and entrepreneurship.  

Another 50 young leaders from the youth activist group Global Shapers came to Davos to demand that more progress must be made and that all stakeholders take action on climate justice. What’s clear is that the voice of youth has never been more powerful, brought together in force and fueled by social media at a scale that is affecting real change.  

Tri-sector funding for climate innovations 

Perhaps the boldest push for alliance-based solutions in Davos was the announcement of the new WEF-led global initiative, Giving to Amplify Earth Action (GAEA), a public-private consortium of companies aimed at dramatically increasing the amount of philanthropic funding going to climate-related initiatives. To date, funding from philanthropies for climate action has been nascent, and many argue this funding is a critical catalyst in accelerating climate innovation.  

Collaboration in the metaverse 

Speaking of innovation, new this year was the first-of-its-kind virtual platform for multistakeholder collaboration called “The Global Collaboration Village.” Led by the World Economic Forum in partnership with Microsoft and Accenture, this initiative aims to be an inclusive space for businesses, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and civil societies to come together and problem-solve—in the metaverse.  

Fundamentally, this all points to the need to seek out new partnerships and approaches for collaboration when it comes to taking action on climate change at your company. As you consider the options, here are a few key pointers: 

  1. Think differently and explore new options 
    Take the Indian clean energy firms as an example, these companies are forging new relationships with clean technology and renewable energy companies towards a common goal. Or consider the metaverse “village.” It may be time to consider new ways to partner or new entities to partner with—maybe your competitors, cross-industry partners —for co-investment and alliances.  
  1. Invite young people to find new opportunities 
    Early-career employees may be your best source for fresh thinking and new collaborations. Give them a voice and empower them to scale your environmental efforts. Seek out their ideas for collaborative opportunities and engage them along the way. 
  1. Encourage a redirection of philanthropic funds  
    Share the news of GAEA with your colleagues and get curious about where your company’s philanthropic funding is going. Encourage balancing funding to both the E (environment) and S (social) of ESG. And then look around for ways to partner up and invest in new climate innovation.  

Hotwire is here to help you identify partnership opportunities that align with your ESG objectives. Reach out to me if you want to learn more about how we’re already helping clients with their sustainability alliance strategies at and learn more about our ESG services on our website.