“We are already living in an era of climate change, but we have all the tools and opportunities to take action. Business leaders have a key responsibility and opportunity to make positive changes at the systems level. The question is how.” This was the focus of this week’s business lunch organized by the Business Council for Sustainable Development in Hungary (BCSDH), focusing on the Time to Transform 2030 program for systemic change and the Race to Zero program for net zero emissions.
A statement issued by the BCSDH recalls that business as usual has not only been challenged, it has been disrupted. “We have the opportunity to change the world for the better now, but only for a short period of time, to transform our companies, our dysfunctional systems and our societies. What will it take to make these changes happen? How and who can lead this change?”
Speaking live from New York, Csaba Kőrösi, President of the UN General Assembly, welcomed the participants and thanked BCSDH for its unique work for sustainability. He stressed that we are at the beginning of a new historic era. A new course of action is needed: tackling the crisis and achieving transformation at the same time. To tackle the challenges of water, climate, energy, food, inequalities in a transformative way, we need change leaders. Addressing the complex crisis must be based on scientific evidence.
Gergely Litkai, founder and director of the stand-up comedy group ‘Dumaszínház’, and also a climate activist committed to sustainability, called for personal engagement in his humorous yet serious performance: "The chances of exceeding 1.5oC are increasing, our lives today are bound to change. We are not mentally prepared for this. Everyone needs to be clear first about what they can change. We must be mentally prepared not to experience this change as a victim, but to act in the hope of a good life. We need to rethink our systems to see if what we now think is the measure of success, and find new values that are sustainable. And what we can do, we must do, because everyone has a responsibility. Individuals must change first, because we are the building blocks of any system," he explained.
In his opening remarks, BCSDH President Attila Chikán, Jr. stressed that the pace and scale of change so far is less than expected. “We have all the tools we need to avoid climate catastrophe, we just need to use them. The current crisis cannot delay these actions. We still have a narrow window of opportunity to make fundamental and immediate changes to our systems. As President of the BCSDH, it is clear to me that companies must lead the way in systemic change, and those who act earlier are less likely to suffer externalities such as rising energy prices or disruptions to supply chains. Transformation requires a change of mindset that fundamentally alters the way business leaders think and decide about the short and long term. That's what our Time to Transform 2030 program, which will define this decade, is all about," he said.
According to the BCSDH Corporate Maturity Survey, 85% of the companies that completed the survey incorporate sustainability considerations into their management at some level, but often to a lesser extent than the development of the vision, meaning that economic considerations still often override sustainability imperatives.
At the event, hosted by BNP Paribas, the Sustainable Future Award was presented to outstanding leaders, women leaders and business solutions in three categories.
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