Spotlight: U.N.’s Private Sector Initiative Boosts Private-Public Partnerships

emerson-resendeEmerson Resende is a climate change specialist with a background in private sector sustainability, energy management and the built environment. Passionate about environmental businesses and sustainable solutions, Emerson worked in Latin America and Europe for six years before joining the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat in 2010 in Germany to support the intergovernmental process on climate change adaptation. He is co-leading the Private Sector Initiative of the Nairobi work programme and responsible for designing and developing a programme to engage the private sector on climate change adaptation issues. The Global Adaptation Institute had the opportunity to ask Resende questions about his experience working with the Private Sector Initiative. 

GAIN: When and how did the program come about? 

U.N. Private Sector Initiative: The Private Sector Initiative (PSI) is part of the Nairobi Work Programme (NWP) on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change. It was created in 2009 in response to a mandate from the Parties of the Climate Change Convention to engage stakeholders including those from the private sector in strengthening the support to developing countries in order to raise awareness to the need of adaptation and also to assist countries in making informed decisions on practical adaptation actions and measures. 

GAIN: Are there any incentives for private sector companies to engage in the program? 

U.N. PSI: This is a cost-free partnership with multiple benefits for private sector companies. Here are some of them:

A. Associate the brand with the United Nations climate change process;

B. Demonstrate that the business is already preparing for the impacts of climate change;

C. Increase visibility about corporate citizenship work on adaptation;

D. Network and share knowledge with leading international and local organizations that are experienced about a wide range of climate change impacts; and

E. Be invited to participate in a number of UNFCCC events to provide expertise.

GAIN: Do you have standards and/or certain set guidelines that have to be met in order to be implemented into the database? 

U.N. PSI: The business cases submitted have to present at least of one the following components: 

A. Reduce vulnerability/increase resilience of the company’s physical assets;

B. Safeguard supply of goods and services for the company’s operation;

C. Develop new business based on opportunities/demand for adaptation solutions; and

D. Strengthen corporate social responsibility.

GAIN: What are the main goals of the program? How has this program affected the private sector adaptation as a whole? 

U.N. PSI: The main goal of the PSI is to become a hub for knowledge sharing on climate change adaptation in the private sector and therefore support the Parties of the Convention in meeting the objectives established for the Nairobi work programme.

A major achievement of the PSI was the creation of an online database of case studies where world-wide private sector organizations from a vast number of sectors shared their initiatives on adaptation from a profitable and sustainable perspective. The UNFCCC Nairobi work programme team is planning to launch a second call for case studies in the run up to COP18.