By Eleanor Mitch, CEO and Founder of EM Strategy Consulting, Wharton alumna
The swift approval and ratification of the Paris Agreement (104 countries of the 197, or 58%, have ratified the agreement!) was nothing short of “miraculous” in CIDCE president Michel Prieur’s words. Never before had an international agreement been so rapidly approved and adopted by so many nations in such a short span of time (approximately 1 year). Indeed, Prieur, one of the “fathers” of the principle of non-regression in environmental law, was instrumental in ensuring the addition of “this momentum is irreversible” in para.4 of the Marrakech Action Proclamation. He has participated in the drafting of many international conventions since the 1970s and sees great hope in the rapid action even though we and future generations will still have to face the grave effects of climate change.
As part of this historic movement of awakening to the realities of the changes climate change must bring about, Wharton IGEL was represented with a presentation in absentia by Eric Orts on the implications for business of the Paris Agreement. Indeed, one of the key sectors that will be facing changes is the business sector. While markets have already chosen more sustainable energy sources in some areas (investments in wind and solar power, and Morocco boasts the world’s largest solar power plant, which just went live in 2016), much more needs to be done, all throughout the supply chain, especially in Operations.
For the first time ever at a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC-COP), an event uniting the ITC, IFAD, WTO, UNCTAD, UNFCCC and UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Implementation was held to discuss how to move forward with business and trade on the Paris Agreement. During the event, Wharton IGEL Alumni Eleanor Mitch raised the point of the role of business schools, and especially IGEL’s, in leading the way to new business opportunities and innovation in sustainability. Given that Wharton graduates and those of other business schools will become business leaders, it is important to strengthen ties with the international law-making, enforcing bodies and business schools to prepare graduates to provide services and products for the challenges the world faces: environmentally displaced persons, sea-level rising, sustainable energy and consumption among others. Innovation and creativity-driven prosperity can come hand-in-hand with sustainable development.
 Eleanor Mitch, presented for Eric Orts