Xixi Chen – We Need Integrated, Collaborative and Bottom-Up Leadership to Build a Cleaner and Greener Asia

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Oct 30, 2017
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Xixi Chen – We Need Integrated, Collaborative and Bottom-Up Leadership to Build a Cleaner and Greener Asia

Environmental Defense Fund manager shares her vision for new kinds of leadership needed to tackle the challenge of climate change Businesses and communities need support in setting their goals to reduce emissions, writes Xixi Chen

Chen will be a participant at the upcoming session in the series The Asia We Want: Building Community Through Regional Cooperation. All participants were invited to share their own vision for “the Asia we want.”

2015 saw the historic successful deal of the Paris Agreement, which symbolized the unanimous determination from nearly 200 countries to fight against climate change and emphasized the climate leadership of the collaboration among all countries. But 2017 has seen this leadership transformed, if not demolished.

On June 1, 2017, the new administration of the United States announced that the country will withdraw from the Paris Agreement. It was a big setback for the green community. However, four days later, the CEO of Unilever made the announcement saying “we are still in,” followed by thousands of city mayors, business CEOs, and non-profit organization leaders. The decision of the president of the US did not change or stop the joint effort from a cross-section communities of the country and beyond to help reduce carbon emissions. This new rising leadership on climate change and sustainability, is different from the top-down national-level leadership we are used to seeing – it is a stronger integrated force, incorporating all kinds of bottom-up community-level efforts working together.

To build a cleaner and greener Asia, this is the new leadership we need and it can help bridge us into the long-term future in the face of inevitable short-term political unitability and uncertainties in many different parts of the world.

This new force of leadership on climate requires strong and effective collaboration on community level, letting leaders from cities, businesses, investors, colleges and universities, local communities, to come and work together toward the same goal: providing fresh air, clean water, safe food, affordable energy, and a healthy environment to everyone in Asia – and the world.

As the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said “a journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.” Helping businesses and communities set their own big and achievable science-based goals on emissions reduction and sustainability is that crucial first step. Once we have the goals, we will need to overcome the communication barrier and build high-quality conversations to help us move forward together because Asian countries are so diverse in cultures and languages and the social and economic developments are uneven. Using advanced technologies to build the best-practice sharing platform can help strengthen the collaboration among our communities; if there is an innovative transportation solution in one city, how can we effectively share the solution with other cities? Regional high-impact initiatives need to be applauded and encouraged, and the resources and tools that can help maximize the impacts should be replicated and shared across industries and regions with lower cost and higher accessibility. Undoubtedly, market-based policies and innovative financing mechanisms will also help accelerate the collaboration and scale up positive results because the best environmental solutions are always strong business cases too.

This is not an easy pathway and there is a lot of work need to be done along the road. But the future looks more promising and exciting because a future Asia with better networked and collaborative communities will be not only cleaner and greener, but also more resilient and prosperous.

Xixi Chen is a manager at the Environmental Defense Fund based in New York with focuses on clean energy, green supply chain, and corporate partnerships.


Session 591 - The Asia We Want: Building Community Through Regional Cooperation I - A Clean and Green Asia - is the first session of a new multi-year series held in partnership with the Japan Foundation. For more information on the Session, please click here. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session on social media, follow #SGSasia.

 

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