Photo of Green Transition
Photo credit: UN Partnerships/Pier Paolo Cito
20 September 2023

Green Transition: Key Discussions at SDG Pavilion Highlight Urgent Need for Ambition and Action

The world still has a narrow opportunity to stay within the 1.5C limit of the Paris Agreement,avoid dangerous tipping points, secure a livable planet.

The good news is that the tools to address the climate crisis already exist, but we need the political will to cut carbon pollution and end the merciless war on nature in order to protect lives and livelihoods. 

The Green Transition segment at the SDG Pavilion centred around the availability of solutions, and what needs to be done to make the transition a reality. It opened with Justin Worland, Senior Correspondent at TIME, interviewing Dr. Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency. 

Dr. Birol laid out a path for the world to decarbonize its energy use, based on international cooperation without which, he said, we have no chance of giving 1.5C target a fighting chance.

Mr. Worland then interviewed May Boeve, the Executive Director of, on building movements for change. “If we look at the countries where we are seeing political progress, people power is often the secret sauce behind these big policy changes," she argued.

The fashion industry has a big impact on the environment and needs to take an active part in fighting the climate crisis and helping achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Sheena Butler-Young, Senior Correspondent at Business of Fashion, moderated a panel discussion focusing on the concrete solutions driven by the fashion industry to challenge the status quo. 

Lindita Xhaferi-Salihu, Business Engagement Lead, Global Climate Action at UN Climate Change (UNFCCC), called for a new level of collaboration between brands and suppliers, taking into account the needs of local people.

Actor and UN Secretary-General’s SDG Advocate Dia Mirza argued that sustainable clothing should be the norm rather than the exception, and part of a commitment that consumers make to themselves and the planet. Alexander Lacik, the CEO of Pandora, hailed the power of individuals to create momentum and bring about real change.

Nature-based solutions to the climate crisis are significant tools in the battle to secure a better future. Melissa Wright, Senior Associate at Bloomberg Philanthropies, moderated a panel discussion on the synergy between biodiversity and climate action, and how to forge partnerships and policy innovation, and mobilize communities to drive transformative change. 

Valerie Plante, the Mayor of Montreal, said that whilst citizens are being asked to make sacrifices and change their behaviour, cities also have a responsibility to take actions and implement nature-based solutions to improve their quality of life: "This means planting trees, and creating 'sponge parks' and 'sponge streets' [which mitigate flooding]".

Elizabeth Maruma, Deputy Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Co-Chair of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures, focused on the need for data in decision-making which, she said, is a challenge for developing countries. “Even though more and more data are available, there is still an issue of accessibility, particularly for those countries where technology has not developed,” she said.

In facing the climate crisis, optimism is essential, according to Tim Christophersen, Vice President of Climate Action at Salesforce. “What gives me a lot of hope is that there is a big shift towards seeing nature as infrastructure. There is a multibillion-dollar nature restoration economy emerging in many countries, and this will happen very quickly with our help."

Endurance swimmer and UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh concluded the session, fresh from his epic swim down the Hudson river, to raise awareness about the health of waterways. "For me, this is about justice between ourselves and future generations but also between ourselves and the animal kingdom,” declared Mr. Pugh. "When it comes to these goals, we have to flip the script, and imagine what things would look like if all the SDGs are achieved".

Watch the session [HERE

See more photos [HERE]