Are your #SDGs looking glass half-full? Or half-empty?

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It is that end-of-the-year time to take stock. Global GoalsCast doesn’t judge whether you’ve been naughty or nice. But co-hosts Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman do take a look at the world in 2019 and ask whether it is still getting better, or going to hell in a handbasket, as Edie so delicately framed it. She cites the failure of the climate talks and the rise of nationalism everywhere from the UK to Brazil. Things are not as bad as they seem, Claudia replies. In fact, the replenishment of the Global Fund to fight Malaria, Tuberculosis, and Aids shows that collective multilateral action is still possible. The world seems to be going in two directions at once, Edie and Claudia agree.

 To help sort things out Gillian Tett, founder of Moral Money at the Financial Times, joins the conversation. Some governments are dragging their feet, including the United States, Tett says. But Tett adds, “this was the year that business really stepped up.” The SDGs are a valuable checklist for business, she explains, and virtually every CEO she talks to wants to discuss the environment, corporate governance, and sustainability. This episode also features a special look back on some of the top Global GoalsCast conversations of the year, on everything from curbing global warming and eradicating poverty, to educating girls and aiding migrants.

 There is also a special Facts and Actions this episode, drawn from some of the best recommendations throughout the year.

 Laurie MacKenzie from our sponsor, Mastercard, describes how women and their families benefit from Mastercard’s digital pay project. “by educating and enabling these women they pass it on to their children and therefore that next generation grows up with a greater set of rights and education and aspirations.”

Image Credits: United Nations 

Featured guests

Gillian Tett

Gillian Tett serves as US managing editor, leading the Financial Times’ editorial operations in the region across all platforms. She writes weekly columns for the Financial Times, covering a range of economic, financial, political and social issues throughout the globe. 

Tett’s past roles at the FT have included US managing editor (2010-2012), assistant editor, capital markets editor, deputy editor of the Lex column, Tokyo bureau chief, and a reporter in Russia and Brussels. 

Most recently in 2016, Tett received honorary degrees from the University of Exeter in July and the University of Miami in May. In 2015, Tett was given an honorary doctorate from Lancaster University in the UK, one of the top ten British universities. In 2014, she was named Columnist of the Year in the British Press Awards and was the first recipient of the Royal Anthropological Institute Marsh Award. Her other honors include a SABEW Award for best feature article (2012), President’s Medal by the British Academy (2011), being recognized as Journalist of the Year (2009) and Business Journalist of the Year (2008) by the British Press Awards, and as Senior Financial Journalist of the Year (2007) by the Wincott Awards. In June 2009 her book Fool’s Gold won Financial Book of the Year at the inaugural Spear’s Book Awards. 

Tett’s latest book The Silo Effect, published by Simon & Schuster in September 2015, looks at the global economy and financial system through the lens of cultural anthropology.

Dr. Narasimha D. Rao

Dr. Narasimha D. Rao is an Asst Professor of Energy Systems at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He also is a Senior Research Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria. Dr. Rao’s research examines energy transitions, climate change and economic and resource inequality. He is particularly interested in how climate change and mitigation policies impact poverty around the world. He is a contributing author to the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, and the recipient of the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant for a project entitled Decent Living Energy – which examines the energy needs and climate impacts of poverty eradication in select emerging economies. He received his PhD from Stanford University in Environment and Resources, and has two Masters from MIT in Technology Policy and Electrical Engineering.

Laura MacKenzie

As Senior Vice President of Global Prepaid for Mastercard, Laura is responsible for developing, executing, leading and adapting the global product strategy for Mastercard’s core prepaid products. In addition, she is responsible for driving product solutions to deliver Mastercard’s commitment to the World Bank to include 500 million people into the formal economy by 2020 through the development and deployment of innovative products and delivery channels.

Prior to this role, she spent 12 years leading Mastercard’s US Merchant acceptance for core merchant verticals. Mackenzie began her career in fashion with luxury global brands Ralph Lauren, Ann Klein and Nicole Farhi before making a move into the financial realm with South African start up joint venture e-commerce companies. She has spent many years living and working overseas in London, Barcelona and Johannesburg.

This episode was made possible thanks to the support of

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Transcript

Gillian Tett: 00:02 This was a year that business really stepped up to the plate and said they were going to get involved. I have never seen a situation where almost every single CEO and C-suite member I have met wants to talk to some degree about environmental social governance issues.

Edie Lush: 00:19 We do know that the 2020s are going to be absolutely critical. The UN science consensus has said that emissions have to start coming down and fast right now by 7% a year. Last year they went up.

Gillian Tett: 00:31 Unfortunately, we’ve seen some governments come out and show that they’re dragging their feet like the American government and we haven’t seen a clear cut consensus amongst the leaders to act on a political sense

Speaker 2: 00:43 In this work today. What is required for just the most basic needs for people that it’s probably not the bulk of the energy needs that’d we consumed. More of the energy we consume is actually serving consumption that potentially could be reduced quite significantly without reducing human wellbeing.

Claudia Edelman: 01:02 The world is indeed going into two directions and I’ve heard that from a lot of people that are looking at 2019 as a mixed bag.

Claudia Edelman: 01:18 Welcome to the Global Goalscast!

Edie Lush: 01:20 The podcast that explores how we can change the world.

Claudia Edelman: 01:24 This episode, we take a final look at 2019 and I look forward to the decade of the 2020s.

Edie Lush: 01:31 That’s right. This is our holidays special! Do you hear the jingle bells? We are going to hear some of our favorite moments from Global Goalscast this year, including the most interesting facts and actions our partners have offered you.

Claudia Edelman: 01:46 Yes, and for that reason, I brought my very special voice, my sexy voice for this episode. So in this episode we’ll ask the question that I know the answer to. Is the world getting better.

Edie Lush: 01:59 Or like your voice? Is it going to hell in a hand basket. or maybe a bit of both?

New Speaker: 02:05 Not in reality. Edie. That is complicated because even if you’re like a super optimist like me, there are days when it doesn’t feel that good. Actually it might feel bad. So to help us think about the year 2019 and about the years to come, we will have a very special guest. One of our very favorite visitors here at the Global Goalscast. We will tell you who that is and crack open our holiday cheer right after this…

Sponsors: 02:35 This episode of Global Goalscast is brought to you by MasterCard. MasterCard is dedicated to building an inclusive world in which the digital economy works for everyone everywhere. By educating and enabling these women, they pass it on to their children and therefore that next generation grows up with a greater set of rights and education aspirations. Later in this episode, you’ll hear how MasterCard’s digital wage project is helping women and their families. Thanks also to CBS News Digital and Universal Production Music and to Harmon, the official sound of Global Goalscast.

Claudia Edelman: 03:21 Welcome back. I’m Claudia Romo Edelman in my new sexy voice.

Edie Lush: 03:26 And I am Edie Lush and later drum roll. We’re going to have a very special guest. It’s going to be Gillian Tett from the Financial Times.

Claudia Edelman: 03:36 It’s such a joy to have Gillian with us. We don’t really think of Gillian as a guest. More like family.

Edie Lush: 03:43 Yeah, because moral money was, she launched this year for the FT. Seems mostly simpatico to the work that we’re doing here. It’s kind of like Global Goalscast, but with charts…

Claudia Edelman: 03:54 And in pink. And so 2019 has been quite a year I would say. Edie, we’re going to break it down for you and give your end of year forecast for where the world is headed on. Spoiler alert, I do not think that things are nearly as bad as they seem. We are not going to hell in a hand basket, Edie!

Edie Lush: 04:13 What about being on the highway to hell? I’m actually tempted to get you to sing that for me, but maybe with your throat the way it is. I’m not going to, but the failure of the climate talk did not inspire hope for me sitting here in London, so we’re going to wrestle with all that and a lot more. But what kind of year was 2019 here at global goals cast, have a listen to some of our high points.

Greta Thurnberg: 04:46 How dare you have stolen my dreams, my childhood with your empty words.

Paul Polman: 04:55 But at the end of the day, it’s not about solving climate change. At the end of the day, it’s giving a decent life to everybody on this planet earth.

Speaker 8: 05:05 The world’s human population is a subject that was at the forefront 30 40 years ago when many people said it’s the biggest problem for the world. Since then we’ve learned, no, it’s not the biggest problem for the world. What counts is not the raw number of people. What counts is their total consumption rate. It’s becoming increasingly impossible to have a stable world with big differences in standards of living around the world and the only stable outcome. It’s going to be a world with much more equal standards of living around them.

Speaker 7: 05:38 What time to set up our library and we asked the children to draw a computer and they could not even fathom what a computer was.

New Speaker: 05:45 As long as you have access to connectivity and now we’re seeing more and more conductivity in the developing world, it is possible to actually access lots of computing power as long as you can pay for it. Lots of storage, more data, and in fact these software tools that allow you to do machine learning and do AI.

Claudia Edelman: 06:01 One of the big red flags that I have is how AI particularly could accentuate exclusion.

New Speaker: 06:09 This is the thing that worries me most, which is that we’d get a set of policy and guidance developed by a bunch of white men in Silicon Valley that tries to speak to the world.

Edie Lush: 06:18 I think Micheal Chui called them male and pale.

New Speaker: 06:20 There you go, I’ll steal that. But that same technology is something that we’re using to detect schools. We can pull a school out of a satellite image, for example, in Liberia where we can see through machine learning where schools are and that lets us understand where to send equipment, supplies, material and teachers in a way that we wouldn’t if we didn’t have that data.

Speaker 10: 06:40 So for the first time this year, we got to celebrate international day of the gal with them and we give some computers and visceral coding lessons and getting to see that they have not put themselves in this tiny box that the world puts the mean that dreams are quite big. It’s very inspiring.

New Speaker: 06:59 It doesn’t matter that I’m a refugee, that is only a status, but it’s never written on my face. Never written anything of mine is never going to examine my destiny because I’m going to write my destiny. I’ll write my own story.

New Speaker: 07:10 Invest in these girls to see them differently. Not just an object of government, but see them as women who can actually do something with their life and give them jobs and skills and give them their ability back.

Speaker 10: 07:22 If you use the term global feminism, you understand feminism all around the world. It is not only from a Western perspective, you know that the facts are so outrageous, so extreme. The disempowerment is so extreme.

Ibrahim Conde: 07:42 The world doesn’t understand that we move because of reasons that we can’t handle and people tend to follow what the media tells about migrants and refugees are seen as people that’s come in to steal jobs, criminals, and so as a result, no one knows what our actual stories are. The stories of migrants in Africa, I think should be told more.

New Speaker: 08:05 With a place of open. I’m also providing training, showing some youth that… That are interested in computers and computer sciences. I see myself as a peacemaker and they dream of a place where we are able to, to live free of children going into um, groups like the way I did.

Speaker 2: 08:30 I always see it as a joke that in the DRC when you take your tomato, you wash your tomato you throw the water, you come a month after you have a tomato plant. But it is true. It’s not a joke. If a man is brought to the conflict, I would be ready to go back to DRC in a few years time. Not to be distributing food, but to be buying food from the DRC.

Speaker 13: 09:02 The world has exist 45 million centuries. But this is really the first century when one species, the human species can determine the planet fate. We use more resources and we are having a heavy footprint which is affecting the biosphere and affecting the climate.

New Speaker: 09:21 You developed countries, you created this problem, you have to cut your emissions. We developing nations, you cannot tell us that we can’t do what you did. And I showed them that under that scenario, Shanghai would be almost certainly inundated. Shenzhen would be inundated and at that point I said, so what does this mean? And what I heard translated in my earpiece was we have to leave the past in the past.

Paul Polman: 09:54 You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I think what we’re really seeing and as well to as many people are dreaming for a better wealth than we have currently.

Valerie Keller: 10:02 you want to change the trajectory of kind of the collective behavior, sometimes you can actually just shift by the murmuring of a few birds, right? To start to fog starts to move in a different direction.

Speaker 1: 10:10 Sure. If you wanted to go fast, go alone. If you wanted to go far, go together.

Edie Lush: 10:16 Jonathan Franzen just the other day said, we should just give up. It’s over.

New Speaker: 10:20 If you believe as he does that it’s too late, that people are never going to learn to cooperate. You are going to get to be right because you’re not going to do a darn thing about it. And so do you want to be right or do you want to make a difference? It’s time to fight. This is not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it. [Transition Music]

Claudia Edelman: 10:46 Wow! That brought back a lot of memories, Edie.

Edie Lush: 10:49 Right? So good.

Claudia Edelman: 10:50 13 episodes, 14 with this one, our audio genius Simon James was there for every one of them and created that amazing review, that nostalgia. That was amazing.

Edie Lush: 11:03 Right.

Claudia Edelman: 11:04 All right, let’s start analyzing the year. Let’s start with global political landscape.

New Speaker: 11:09 So I felt like we were moving in two directions at once in 2019 it’s a little bit like that finger game. I don’t know if it’s Mexican or Chinese. I used to buy them when I went to Tijuana. Like you put your fingers in and then you both pull, yeah, they’re Mexican. They’re called atrapanovios, which is basically like a boyfriend catcher.

Edie Lush: 11:29 Oh my god.

Claudia Edelman: 11:30 It’s meant to be a toy for girls. So you put it on the finger of the boy you like and then you pull and there is no way he can skate until he gives in.

Edie Lush: 11:39 So what do you think about my analogy? Is that the right one?

Claudia Edelman: 11:42 Well, I think that the world is indeed going into two directions and I’ve heard that from a lot of people that are looking at 2019 as a mixed bag. On the one hand, there’s never been more wealth, more health, more people living in decent lives, eliminating extreme poverty. As a former secretary general, my former boss, Ban Ki-Moon said we are the first generation that can eradicate extreme poverty and that is amazing.

Edie Lush: 12:11 And at the same time, pulling the other way there is spreading discontent. We’re seeing rising political movements in the middle East, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon.

Claudia Edelman: 12:19 You almost moved to the middle East, right?

Edie Lush: 12:23 I’ve been there several times and we’ve also seen a new nationalism or even nativism infecting places like the US China, Brazil, India, Eastern Europe, and of course Russia. Hard to call it new there. I live in the UK and we just had yet another election. And I would argue that the union of the United Kingdom is the biggest loser at this last election because nationalism has risen in every country including Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Claudia Edelman: 12:51 And I don’t think that this is going to stop. All signs are saying that these will continue worsening and I do think that that sense of, I don’t believe that the system is working and particularly governments are inefficient and unethical is going to probably hurt multi-lateralism massively.

Edie Lush: 13:13 And we saw the failure of multi-lateralism of course, this last weekend at Cop-25 in Madrid, but we are the optimists and we have to remind ourselves that multi-lateralism isn’t dead. Even at this time of isolationism, there was a massive multi-lateral victory that many people, including me in fact missed. I didn’t realize until I read Mark Suzman of the Gates foundation who wrote an article the other day where he said the biggest news no one paid any attention to was the replenishment of the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. In October, the global fund secured $14 billion of new funding.

Claudia Edelman: 13:54 YooHoo!

New Speaker: 13:54 Remember Sue Desmond Hellman earlier this year,

Sue Hellman: 13:58 it literally is impossible for me to overstate how much global fund and Gavi have contributed to everything we celebrate in global health. I’ll give you just one fact. Since 1990 under five mortality has been cut in half. It is not at all an overstatement to say, if not for the global fund for AIDS, TB, and malaria, and Gavi for vaccines for the poorest children of the world. The world would have never seen that kind of gains.

Claudia Edelman: 14:28 Yes, yes. This shows how important political will is, I Edie as you might recall, I was part of two replenishments when I was working for the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. And I tell you the newest one really was carried by president Macron in a way that he put his political will behind it. He made sure that France was pushing harder, raises money. He brought, you know, like Europe, he brought his political world everywhere. Governments, philanthropists, business got together in Leon. Perhaps that’s the new multi-lateralism.

Claudia Edelman: 15:10 So we start here because the greatest challenge to achieving the global goals is not technological or even economic. It’s political. We have the resources and the tools to do most of what’s needed and yet we aren’t doing it.

Edie Lush: 15:23 So we need our smartest thinking caps to help sort us out, which is why we’ve invited Gillian Tett back and it’s not just for the very special studio eggnog.

Claudia Edelman: 15:33 Well, here in the studio we have the Mexican Ponche with rum that Gillian and I will start enjoying as soon as we are out of there. So Gillian, what’s your take on political landscape? 2019.

Gillian Tett: 15:45 Well, I’ll take any kind of alcohol and studio these days. I think we need it because there’s been plenty of depressing stuff in the last year. Unfortunately. We’ve seen some governments come out and show that they’re dragging their feet like the American government and we haven’t seen a clear cut consensus amongst the leaders to act on a political sense. However, this was the year that business really stepped up to the plate and said they were going to get involved with an extraordinary number of commitments and involvement from corporate leaders and financial sector leaders. And that’s really potentially going to be a game changer. Whether that turns into action after the brave words remains to be seen and that’s going to be a key theme for 2020 but what is encouraging is that even if governments have prevaricated or become split . Business have become much more unified, a much more proactive. And do you think that they are ready? Well, mobilizing business in my view requires really a sort of four-part strategy. First, they have to wake up and recognize that they actually have a duty to the wider world other than just the shareholders. And that has definitely happened this year. If you look at things like the business round table and the statement they made about stakeholder purpose or stakeholder commitments, that’s very significant.

Gillian Tett: 17:02 Secondly, business has to have a framework to talk about what kind of action it could or should take. And I must say I think the sustainable development goals have been an extraordinarily successful tool that many businesses have used to really frame that discussion that you can criticize the SDGs of being too cumbersome and complex, but for business it provides a wonderful checklist to talk to each other with. Thirdly, they have to start actually putting their money where their mouth is in relation to the SDGs and actually doing things and we’re starting to see that action. There’s a lot of impediments where they are at least starting to move, but fourthly, business has to recognize the limits of their ability and that means they need to be very clear about what the policy sector has to do rather than them and also where there are areas that actually a better performed by NGOs rather than profit-seeking enterprises. Again, I think there is action on that front, but getting the three legs of that stool to work together, the government, the NGOs and business is going to be another key theme for 2020

Edie Lush: 18:11 Before we go any further, let’s take a quick break to hear another story from our sponsor MasterCard on how they are making the digital economy work for everyone.

Sponsors: 18:24 I know that women are important to MasterCard. I’ve spoken to so many of the amazing women that work for MasterCard. I wonder in your words why it’s important that you and MasterCard helped to benefit women. Women, especially in emerging markets are significantly more at risk than their male counterparts. They’re especially more at risk when they’re paid in cash wages. They have less control of it. They’re at greater risk of being pickpocketed. They can be mugged on their way home. In these factory towns, everybody knows which Friday is pay day. They know exactly the journey that people are taking. Some of these women travel by bus or train or walk for hours to get to work in some countries. It’s also common, as I’ve said earlier, for women to just hand over their wages to the men in their lives, but we’ve allowed them and we’re helping them with careful training on how to talk to their families about digital wages. We’ve also seen a dynamic shift in some households in which those women get more of a say in how the home finances are managed. And we also know that because women are so focused on their children and the next generation by educating and enabling these women, they pass it on to their children and therefore that next generation grows up with a greater set of rights and education and aspirations. [Transition Music] Smallholder farmers around the globe are equally, uh, in emerging markets, generally still in cash based ecosystems. So we have partnered as we’ve done in the garment sector with large commodities players and are working with them to digitize payments out to small holder coffee farmers in places like Chiapas, Mexico and outside of Bogota, Columbia. And we’re also now looking to Western Africa. So to take the cash operations out of the supply chain for small holder farmers in fact allows them to reap a more full value for their cash crop as it goes to market than they are when they have to stop through middlemen along the way. [inaudible]

Edie Lush: 20:48 Thanks to Laura McKinsey from our sponsor, MasterCard. Now back to our end of year review.

Claudia Edelman: 20:57 So the second thing that we want to discuss about 2019 is inequality. Inequality. That seems to be the most important driving force for anger and for this trust and for fear. We see not only the widen gap on money, but it’s also access to technology and to education. So inequality has to be addressed. Inequality is bringing people to wonder, is this system working for me? Is capitalism really gonna ever be helpful? Is globalization ever gonna touch my wallet? And my home is democracy really a system that would allow me to thrive? The.

Edie Lush: 21:36 UNDP Claudia said very much the same thing just the other day. Inequality is the force driving social discontent. In fact, Achim Steiner said,

Achim Steiner: 21:46 What was one sufficient then need to measure per capita income is simply no longer adequate in capturing inequality in the 21st century. The capabilities approach, the kind of educational opportunities we have, the families we are born into. All this begins to define our life’s journey. And as we look towards addressing the increasing tensions around inequality and development choices and outcomes, you also need to move beyond averages. Simply having a per capita GDP measurement tool is not adequate and we have to move beyond today because the advent of new technologies, the threat of climate change are also emerging as major drivers of inequality in the 21st century…

Claudia Edelman: 22:25 Which is fascinating Edie because the sustainable development goals, the SDGs created a broad definition of equality five years ago and it was not just wealth or income but clean water, electric power, education for boys and girls and responsible consumption. The way that Jared Diamond told us earlier this year,

Jared Diamond: 22:46 Consumption rates meaning consumption rates of water, fuel and other resource and metals in the developed world on the average about 32 times those in the poorest countries and that means that one American citizen has the impact of the world. 32 Kenyans. I mentioned specifically Kenyans because there are many Americans who feel indignant and concerned about the growing population of Africa and yes, it’s a tragedy for Africa, but as far as the impact on the world is concerned, 50 million Kenyans are equivalent to 1.7 million Americans can is trivial for its impact on the world,

Edie Lush: 23:30 The ultimate inequality. That goes to the heart of what I was talking about with professor Narasimha Rao.

Claudia Edelman: 23:36 He’s so cool. He’s the professor of energy system, right?

Edie Lush: 23:39 Yeah. At my Alma mater, Yale university, he’s been looking at how much energy it will take to lift the remaining 700 million extremely poor people, including those 14 million Kenyans living on less than a dollar 90 a day. His answer is encouraging.

Narasimha Rao: 23:57 What we found in general in principle is that the needs of poverty eradication are relatively small compared to the total energy demand in these countries. Even in a country like India where 15 to 80% of people lack any of these dimensions of decent living standards, which indicates that the bulk of energy use today is really serving more the affluence in the middle class services such as driving in automobiles and flying and more kind of conspicuous luxury consumption, but not so much meeting basic needs. And this is increasingly the case as you move towards middle income countries like Brazil and South Africa. And so that provides more evidence that in this world today what is required for just the most basic needs for people. That is probably not the bulk of the energy needs that be consumed at more of the energy we consume is actually serving consumption that potentially could be reduced quite significantly without reducing human wellbeing.

Edie Lush: 24:57 And he echoes Diamond’s point that as we become more affluent, we become more wasteful.

Narasimha Rao: 25:03 Material resources are serving a lot of nod materials needs such as social status, acceptance in society, and we need to move away from that because that’s reflects a certain amount of resource use and environment and degradation that is not really necessary for people to flourish.

Edie Lush: 25:23 Gillian, can we have a world that’s more equal that uses less carbon?

Gillian Tett: 25:28 Well, that is one of the big questions right now because as a tremendous contradictional irony in this whole inequality debate, on the one hand groups inside Western countries are talking a lot about inequality and that’s driving populism, but of course the level of inequality between countries have actually been shrinking in the last decade, which is actually good news overall. Now in theory that would imply that a lot of the emerging market in developing countries should feel less angry about being asked to do some heavy lifting and when it comes to climate change in practice, however many of them are arguing quite correctly that it seems somewhat unfair for the developing world to lecture them about the need to potentially curb missions and maybe hurt that growth while the developed world has had already had the benefits of developing on the back of a lot of carbon emissions. So that’s going to be very tough in the next year ahead. But perhaps there’s another thing to think about which is the idea of reverse innovation because what was thought and to see is a wave of innovation in the emerging markets in relation to climate change and other big social challenges where are taking out small innovative ideas, which are often very, very cheap because they have to be developed for poor countries, which sometimes actually leapfrog some of the big expensive ideas being developed in the West. And increasingly we’re starting to see trickle back where ideas developed in an emerging markets come into the West and start to solve some of the climate change problems or at least deal with some of the issues, even though they’ve come out of poorer economies and tougher conditions.

Paul Polman: 27:15 At the end of the day, it’s not about solving climate change. At the end of the day, it’s giving a decent life to everybody on this planet earth.

Edie Lush: 27:23 That was Paul Polman from our episode about his new firm. Imagine. But of course we do need to avert global warming. So Claudia, tell me a little about when you were at the UN in 2015 and how the SDGs and the climate agenda came together.

Claudia Edelman: 27:39 Well, they were separate animals. So there were the sustainable development goals that took forever to be created five years. And you know the consensus of 193 countries getting to agree on those 17 goals. And meanwhile you had the Paris Accords that were signed and getting ready and there was a realization that one couldn’t exist without the other and they were put together under the 2030 agenda for sustainable development goals and climate change. And that’s why there was so much debate about whether to call this the 2030 agenda of the or the SDGs. But now that they came together, climate is not only part of it, it’s just that as a center of it, um, it is urgent and that’s why the discussions of the COP are so disappointing.

New Speaker: 28:25 Either we stopped this eviction to go all our efforts to tackle climate change will be doomed.

Claudia Edelman: 28:32 People had the expectation that action was going to take place and that you will going to see the decision makers taking decisive actions towards climate change. And I do think that there’s a consensus that there was a disappointment, but like the discussions of decision makers which by the way actually emphasizes even more the point that we have about like governments are failing the expectations of people.

Edie Lush: 28:57 Yeah. And I’d say that to say it was a disappointment is like the biggest understatement of the year because we do know that the 2020s are going to be absolutely critical. The UN science consensus has said that emissions have to start coming down fast right now by 7% a year. Last year they went up. So is that even possible when we can’t get governments to agree on what to do?

Gillian Tett: 29:21 It was indeed a big disappointment because of those ever time that we need to get the world on board and all the political leaders on board together to tackle climate change. It really is now if you’re looking for silver lining, so there are two silver linings. Firstly, the very fact that the governments have not pulled together at cohesively might just… Might spur more consumer protest and action and more pressure on companies to try and push for meaningful change and if so, that would be good. Second, possible silver lining is that the US has obviously been a difficult stumbling block in the whole process of getting major governments on board. However, one big theme I’m going to be looking out for in 2020 is to see whether the Republican party starts to change its language or mood music on climate change at all because although Donald Trump has very clearly said he’s not interested in talking about climate change, the reality is actually a growing number of senior Republicans who are pretty concerned and they won’t use the word climate change because that’s such political dynamite and the US. Landscape right now. However, if you start hearing phrases like environmental protection Conservancy, energy self-sufficiency, pollution being tossed around a lot, that’s a sign that actually the tone is starting to change. Even if the word climate change is still taboo.

Edie Lush: 30:48 I remember when I was in Paris for COP-21 it was really the French leadership that along with Christiana Figueres who really steered such a successful COP. These thoughts from the news that I read. I wonder if you got a sense of what it was that went wrong this time round.

Gillian Tett: 31:08 There wasn’t really clear cut leadership unfortunately and there really is a growing divergence in the goals and the degree to which people think hitting those goals is realistic or not sadly

Claudia Edelman: 31:24 The fourth topic that we wanted to pick, which probably is at the heart and the soul of what we are here at the Global Goalscast, which is the growing movement for change and this is how we want to look ahead and look at businesses coming on board and jumping into the bridge of purpose and sustainability. I think that that’s a great thing that happened is 2019 which is a great movement for change.

Gillian Tett: 31:51 Well, I would say if you’re looking for signs of change, firstly in the course of the last year I’ve spoken to masses of CEOs because that’s kind of what I’m paid to do in my job at the financial times and I’ve been doing that for years. I have never seen a situation where almost every single CEO and C-suite member I have met, wants to talk to some degree about environmental, social and governance issues. Never seen that before. Now the sign of change is that we at the financial times launched something called moral money, this newsletter and platform. Whew, that’s going gangbusters. I mean, you know, it’s got the highest open rate of any newsletter we’ve launched because our readers are really, really interested in this kind of content, which going to be pretty hard to imagine a year or two ago and lost tiny vignette is that Brussels recently issued a hefty roadmap for green finance, but it’s also issued a very big taxonomy of how you define green bonds and green products, although the rest of the world, particularly America, use toa shrug when Brussels did things and say, Oh, let’s just ignore what Brussels is doing.

Gillian Tett: 33:03 Increasingly I’m hearing people say this could end up being like the GDPR, the green world. And by that I mean Brussels came out a couple of years ago and drew up these very tight regulations for the tech sector and social media platforms, which initially only applied in Europe and people kind of ignored outside Europe, but actually then ends up setting the standards globally and affecting any company with a global operation. So what Brussell’s doing in the world of green right now could end up again having a real impact in the next year and how American companies and other companies and financial group think about green issues and essentially raise the standards in ways that people weren’t expecting.

Edie Lush: 33:43 I was amazed to see that Europe actually pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050 now that was the news that came out last week ahead of the rather disappointing COP. Gillian, I wonder if you can talk me through something that I think is going to be an emerging issue next year, which is this idea of what’s the role of central banks in climate change? We now know that Mark Carney is the Secretary General’s advocate, an Emissary on climate change, but there’s a real argument or debate or discussion starting about what the role is. Yes, climate risks should be looked at by central banks, but should central banks have their mission creep into shifting capital away from polluters towards greener companies? So those are the corporate bonds that they hold. I wonder if you have a view on that.

Gillian Tett: 34:35 Well, I certainly do have a view because it’s going to be one of the hot potatoes of 2020 a bit of background Mark Carney, the governor, the bank of England set up this group known as network for greening the financial system. No prize for snappy memorable name.

Claudia Edelman: 34:50 La papa caliente!

Gillian Tett: 34:54 Exactly. But anyway, at the end GFS was set up between the bank of England, bank of France and the central bank of China. Interestingly enough, about two or three years ago, and initially they just had six members. They’ve now got three dozen members. Almost every central bank in the advanced economies has joined with a notable exception of Russia. And guess what? The United States, yes, grown. Although the U S actually may end up joining, although the Federal Reserve hasn’t joined. The San Francisco Fed is a advisory member and I wouldn’t be surprised if the US Fed doesn’t join soon as well. But anyway, they all looking at what they can do with green. And the best way to understand this is to use as a three parts schema. I often use with moral money, our platform at the FT, which is the recognize that there are three incentives driving finance and business in this respect. Some companies want to actively change the world, some want to do no harm to the world and some want to do no harm to themselves. And central banks certainly want to do no harm to themselves and they want to do no harm to the financial systems they oversee. And in that respect they want to make sure that they are properly measuring the climate risk threats to banks and insurance companies, asset portfolios. So that’s very important and that’s what they’re definitely stepping up and everyone agrees they have to do that and they also have to look at their own portfolios. Second thing is doing no harm to the world, I. E. not backing ventures and enterprises, which are obviously dangerous and risky and damaging and there’s a bit more controversy around that. But most central banks these days think they probably shouldn’t be buying, say, coal mine bonds or something like that that are actively going to harm the environment. The really controversial part is about actively trying to change the world. And there’s actually a lot of unease in central bank circles about the idea that central banks actively trying to finance say renewable energies or anything which has a wider social environmental purpose as a proactive direct goal because that’s seen as meddling too much in politics.

Edie Lush: 37:09 Now I want to get you guys to give me your predictions. Will 2020 be the year we see movement to achieve the SDGs coalescing in a way that makes success likely or are the forces of delay, fragmentation and short term profit too powerful. Claudia, what do you think?

Claudia Edelman: 37:26 I actually think that 2020 will be the year in which a lot of the voice, a lot of the tagline will be about action. So it will be the decade of action coming from the coalition of, you know, like the United Nations and partners. But also I think that young people are tired of listening to stuff without saying action. So I think that CEOs, ideally we’ll be talking more about the actions that they’re doing just about talking the talk. My second prediction about 2020 is that inclusion will become bigger. I think that I’ve seen it now with diversity and inclusion and overall the world being browner, more feminine with a bigger heart and so inclusive environment will become more important. Companies will have to manage expectations about what they can and they cannot do.

Edie Lush: 38:16 Gillian, what about you? What’s your prediction for 2020?

Gillian Tett: 38:19 Well, here are three things to watch. Firstly, accountants will become increasingly important and yes, I know the activists and you know philanthropists and people who work at the UN tend to go, Oh my goodness, may accounting how boring. But we’re starting to see the breed of warrior accountant who are trying to force companies and investment groups to actually measure the impact of climate change on portfolios. And that really matters because once that becomes revealed, there’s more pressure on companies to act. Secondly, I think we’re going to see the Japanese Olympics 2020 Olympics. See Japan play a growing leadership role in trying to push forward the SDGs on the global stage and put a lot of pressure on companies to actually do things. Some of it will be greenwashing, but I do think we’re going to see a lot more action there. And thirdly, I think pressure on the investment managers and the investment companies is going to keep rising because there is a new generation of wealthy millennials who have money and who are demanding that wall street names in Switzerland and London actually take action and it’d be lovely to think that it’s kind of mass market common people who drive change in financial products. In reality, it’s the ritual, the super rich who drive a lot of the change and they’ve fact is their starting to move.

Claudia Edelman: 39:37 Wow. Edie, I love that. Imagine that if you’re like a Japanese accountant. Wow, that’s the young japanese accountant[laughter]. Edie, what about you?

Edie Lush: 39:46 So my prediction is that the argument over climate action is going to become stronger ahead of now. Yet again, prime minister Boris Johnson is hosting COP-26 in Glasgow in Scotland. I think we’re going to see more cities, more businesses and more coalitions emerging to tackle climate change. I think we need amazing minds and courageous hearts to be tackling these issues and I think it’s going to be a very challenging year for those who care.

Gillian Tett: 40:14 Since I have the british accent, I will jump in quickly and speak about Boris Johnson and the UK because there is a lot to be depressed right now about the UK. However, it so happens that green issues is one area where there really is a chink blight because the UK is already actually done a lot of very encouraging things about building public-private partnerships. And so against the odds, this really could be a chance for the UK to show to use the great British what it’s made of.

Claudia Edelman: 40:43 and so last words, 2020 optimistic, pessimistic, mixed?

Gillian Tett: 40:49 Gotta be optimistic because we’re the start of a new decade and if we’re not optimistic then when can you be?

Claudia Edelman: 40:54 There you go. Closing with Brexit. I love that Edie?

Edie Lush: 40:57 You can’t be an optimist. Why get up in the morning?

Claudia Edelman: 40:59 Wow, I love it. Honestly, after COP-25 and after Brexit, having two brave minds here saying that they are optimistic me for I would change. I’m mixed for 2020 and I do think that is going to be the year of Latinos. I’m super optimistic about the year of Hispanics here in the US but overall I really want to see government stepping up, being more efficient on businesses, getting more ethics, more moral, as you said, but I just don’t want to have like the break of a honeymoon with businesses too early because if they cannot manage the expectations of what people have, then is going to be a hard year.

Edie Lush: 41:38 Okay. Now it’s time for our year end special. Best of facts and actions from 2019 first three facts from Aron Cramer of BSR, Saskia Brusyen of Yunis social business and Robyn Scott of Apolitical,

Aron Cramer: 41:56 We’ve heard from the UN that the world needs to reduce emissions 7.6% per year during the 2020s in order to keep warming below 1.5 degrees. That is an urgent call to action.

Saskia Bruysten: 42:11 My second fact is that last year, 26 individuals on the same amount of money as 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. Despite the fact that extreme poverty has been going down, inequality has still been rising. Billionaires now have more wealth than ever before. While only 5% of all new income generated from the global growth trickles down to the poorest 60%

Robyn Scott: 42:45 In a world where jobs are increasingly being lost to automation, the international labor organization estimates that the green economy could create 24 million jobs by 2030 and now three actions from Chris Fabian of UNICEF innovation, Mohamed Yahya of UNDP and Mathias Devi of UNICEF.

Chris Fabian: 43:06 First of all, please, if you haven’t signed up for Finland’s online course on artificial intelligence, it’s called Elements of AI and you can find it through a quick Google search.

Mohamed Yahya: 43:15 Support the transformation of Africa, not through aid only, but through trade and other aspects of the relationship between Africa and Europe has to be one of mutual beneficial system. Structurally transforming Africa is one of the things that will then allow young people to want to stay in their own countries. At least give them that option,

Mathias Devi: 43:39 Support youth to speak up and hear them. Whatever you’re working on, whatever you’re designing, whatever you’re promoting. Remember that 1.8 billion people in your potential audience are children and youth and the 90% of these live in developing countries. This group has lots to say and listening can both improve your work and their lives massively.

Edie Lush: 44:01 Thank you to all our partners that have shared facts and actions in 2019 and thank you to Gillian for joining us and all our guests who shared their insights and stories with us this year

Claudia Edelman: 44:17 And thanks to you.. to you our dear listener. Thank you for listening. Please like and subscribe us via ideas or whatever you get your podcast from and follow us on social media @Globalgoalscast and a very personal special thanks to the wonderful team of Global Goalscast that has made this an incredible second year that we have from our editorial guru, Michael Oreske to Charles the Portobello to Simon James and Edie Lush and Tina and Michelle and everybody that is supporting us all around the world. Thank you. Thank you so much for this wonderful team. When you have a wonderful team, you produce wonderful things. Thank you for being with us this year. See you next year.

Edie Lush: 45:00 Thank you to you Claudia and…

Outro: 45:12 Global Goalscast was hosted by Edie Lush and Claudio Romo Edelman, our editorial guru by Mike Oreskes editing and sound production by Simon James. Our operations director is Michelle Cooprider and our interns Tina Pastore and Brittney Segura. Music in this episode was courtesy of Universal Production Music, one of the world’s leading production music companies, creating and licensing music for film, television, advertising, broadcast, and other media, including podcasts, original music by Neil Hale, Angelica Garcia, Simon James, Katie Crone, and Andrew Phillips. This episode is brought to you by MasterCard, creating scalable solutions for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Thanks, also, CBS News Digital and Harmon, the official sound of Global Goalscast.

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