Speeches & Transcripts

Remarks by Anabel Gonzalez at the Climate Action and Green Competitiveness Event hosted by the World Bank Group, Washington, DC

November 19, 2015

Anabel Gonzalez Climate Action and Green Competitiveness Event World Bank Group, Washington, DC

As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning everyone. I am very pleased to welcome you to today’s event. I am particularly pleased to welcome the partners who joined us today to share their experience and expertise. I welcome:

  • The Finnish Ambassador to the United States, Kirsti Kauppi
  • The President and CEO of the World Resources Institute, Andrew Steer, who is of course familiar to many of you.
  • Hakan Bulgurlu, the CEO of Arçelik from Turkey
  • And Mari Pantsar, Director of the Finnish innovation agency, Sitra

I also want to welcome our World Bank Group colleagues from the Climate Group, the Energy and Environment Global Practices and the IFC who are participating and sharing their expertise today.

Ladies and gentlemen, climate change has gone from an uncertain computer projection to a physical reality. We have already seen a 1 degree celsius rise in global temperatures since the start of the industrial age. And although 2015 is not yet over, scientists are confidently predicting that it will be the warmest year ever recorded.

These alarming trends disproportionately threaten developing countries – especially the poor and disenfranchised in those countries – who are least able to respond and adapt.

Thus I stand fully with President Kim in his prioritization of climate change as a major issue threatening to roll-back decades of progress on economic development.

Today’s event is organized to examine how industry in developing countries can respond to climate change – and the steps taken to address climate change – to maintain and even enhance competitiveness at the country, sector, and firm levels.

We wish to understand better how our clients can minimize harm to existing industry and capture opportunities that are arising.

Climate change and related actions may well represent the greatest economic transformation of our time.

Firstly, all existing industries – every single one – will see their established practices threatened by changes in the weather, forcing a re-thinking and shift in operating principles and strategies.

We are also going to see massive new investments. One study undertaken in the Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice showed that over the next decade, there will be USD 6.4 trillion invested in climate-related sectors in developing countries alone. From a private sector point of view, this figure is very attractive and something you want to be part of.

We will also see rapid expansion of relatively nascent markets. The growth rates in sectors such as renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and clean water are projected to continue at high, often exponential levels, which creates many opportunities.

And finally, we will continue to see technological disruption. The many new clean technologies are being developed and applied in innvoative ways, which promises to transform numerous sectors and trading patterns.

Countries and companies that proactively seize opportunities presented by the expanding new markets and technology will likely see pronounced growth and development. Sadly, those who do not, may see their industrial and economic fortunes fail.

There is a window of opportunity now to take the steps needed in this regard. I particularly note the importance of this issue for developing countries.

They are the ones most exposed to climate threats but also in a way the best positioned to enhance their own competitiveness in these changing times.

In a world marked by transformation, new and non-traditional players have the best chances to improve their position and benefit from these changes.

At the Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice, we are keen to work with all of you and especially with our clients to address these issues head-on in a way that improves their competiveness and economic standing.

We have made Green Competitiveness one of our major cross-cutting themes for the GP and are looking to enhance our offerings in this area.

Already our Climate Technology Program and Climate Efficient Industries program are helping dozens of countries increase industrial efficiency and innovate new businesses in growing markets.

We believe our skills and experience in Trade and Competitiveness are very well suited to expand on this for more help to clients. This includes expertise in trade and global value chains, sector and industrial competitiveness, and innovation and entrepreneurship.

We all hope and believe that negotiators in Paris will produce a strong agreement in the COP 21 next month. 

When that happens, we stand ready to help developing countries to successfully manage the impacts they will experience on the competitiveness of their industries.

This will be a major endeavor and we very much welcome your participation and shared expertise today to develop a cogent plan to go forward together.

Thank you.