Yara and CEO Jørgen Ole Haslestad took part in the United Nations Climate Summit 2014, part of a week of attention geared to spark action to deal with climate change.
It was a city buzzing with expectations, expectations raised by activists, politicians and businesses alike. They were all gathered in the “Big Apple” to discuss, and to hopefully agree on, concrete actions in our common struggle to battle climate change. As Yara believes the private sector has a pivotal role to play, taking responsibility and leading by example, it was a given that Jørgen Ole Haslestad took part in the “Climate week” happening in NYC.
Priority #1: Ensuring food security
Agriculture was one of eight core topics on the Summit agenda on 23 September, as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted world leaders, from government, finance, business, and civil society to provide ideas, commitments and action to reduce emissions and mobilize positive change.
"My message to leaders at the UN General Assembly is that we need global leadership on food security and climate change," says Jørgen Ole Haslestad. "Regardless of their politics, ensuring food security is the ultimate priority for every head of state. We cannot mismanage agriculture."
"This is why Yara is joining and co-launching the new Global Alliance on Climate Smart Agriculture in the UN General Assembly," he adds. "From our perspective this alliance has the potential to shape this vital joining of the food and climate agendas."
The CEO carried Yara's argument that these critical global challenges interlock, and that agriculture has the potential to be a part of the solution.
The CEO's program in New York City was hectic, including an afternoon at the Leadership Council Meeting: The G7 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition - on the day before the Summit itself.
The Leadership Council discussed investment changes in Africa. "The progress to date has been impressive - many may say against the odds," Haslestad said. "Commitments to invest in African agriculture have been made by 215 companies, and – importantly – 2/3 of these are African-based. The task now is for governments and donors to deliver on their commitments."
A key event was the opportunity to address the Agriculture Policy Room session at the Climate Summit on Tuesday morning.
"There is one piece of green technology that underpins all sustainable development goals," the Yara CEO told the high-level gathering. "That is photosynthesis. Out of all dialogues taking place here today, this one on agriculture is the one with the greatest potential - either positive, or negative. We cannot afford to fail."
"I ask for leadership," he continued. "There is yet a lack of global patrons who firmly drive for a merging of the food security and climate change agendas. From the private sector, we are ready to supply solutions. From global leaders, we request a framework which rewards the smart choices."
The final agenda points of interest to Yara took place on Wednesday, attending an early meeting 'Partnering for Impact: Business Action for Africa', before taking part in the Unilever & UN Foundation event 'Action 2015: How can the private sector help deliver the Sustainable Development Goals?' where Yara was a signatory in a new Business Manifesto in support of the SDGs.
"Signing of the manifesto is an important signal to governments and civil society that the private sector is committed," the CEO said. "And: That we will contribute, being a part of the solution."