Global board leaders agree on strong business case for climate action

25 June 2024

  • Board directors and chairs from every inhabited continent met at the World Economic Forum headquarters in Geneva on 20-21 June.
  • The event was co-hosted by the Climate Governance Initiative and World Economic Forum, which have worked together to drive boardroom action on the climate crisis since 2019.
  • Discussions found that companies can “do well by doing good”, creating value for shareholders, the environment, and future generations.

Companies with strong boardroom leadership can benefit from trillions of dollars in annual new business opportunities by addressing new needs that will arise from the effects of climate change, while safeguarding humanity’s future by supporting a fair, sustainable and nature-positive future.

The world is on course to breach the landmark climate agreement introduced by world leaders in Paris in 2015 within the next two decades, according to the IPCC. Bold action from company boardrooms is vital to deliver the new business and economic models, innovation and collaboration needed to halt climate change and support a liveable planet.

At this critical moment, 32 chairs, non-executive and independent directors who are already recognised for their climate leadership met at the World Economic Forum to discuss how to motivate their colleagues in company boardrooms to champion action on the climate crisis. They came from over 20 countries and represented a diverse range of sectors, including financial services, renewable energy, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, energy and mining.

“Boards that are committed to responsibly addressing climate risks and opportunities can expect strong returns – from safeguarding their viability and resilience throughout global economic changes, to enhancing their public reputation and competitive advantage. We were delighted to convene these vital discussions with the World Economic Forum to empower board directors to act on the strong business case for climate action.”

Alexandra Bolton OBE, Director of the Climate Governance Initiative

“Board directors can catalyse and accelerate the pace of climate action among businesses and their value chains. I am heartened to see board directors from across all continents passionately exchanging ideas and best practices on how to translate global ambition to business strategy and concrete action.”

Profile Picture Website Gim Huay NeoGim Huay Neo, Managing Director, World Economic Forum

Board directors at the event agreed that boardrooms should:

  • Have the courage to be a ‘first mover’: realise new business opportunities by trialling new solutions, acting ahead of new regulations and policy, and driving partnerships across value chains;
  • Put the World Economic Forum’s Principles for Effective Climate Governance at the heart of their strategy;
  • Set long term climate targets integral to their business strategy, and assess the company’s progress against them periodically;
  • Adopt a stance of ‘steward leadership’ by considering the needs of the environment and future generations alongside traditional stakeholders;
  • Equip management and the board with the right skills, expertise and incentives to deal with the risks and opportunities of climate change; and
  • Invest in innovation and new technologies that support a zero-carbon economy.

The World Economic Forum’s Centre for Nature and Climate works in partnership with the Climate Governance Initiative to foster cutting-edge thought leadership, awareness raising and action on climate governance challenges. In 2019, the World Economic Forum published the Principles for Effective Climate Governance, which help board directors ensure they are effectively managing climate risks and opportunities.

The Climate Governance Initiative has national associations, called Chapters, in over 70 countries worldwide. To become a member of your local Chapter, visit

Notes to editors

About the World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. It provides a global, impartial and not-for-profit platform for meaningful connection between stakeholders to establish trust, and build initiatives for cooperation and progress.

About the Climate Governance Initiative

The Climate Governance Initiative is a non-profit dedicated to mobilising boards to accelerate the transition to net zero and build climate resilience. We develop and support a global network that empowers and mobilises board directors on every continent to take climate action by enhancing their knowledge and skills in climate governance. We are a rapidly growing global network with Chapters in over 70 countries worldwide, reaching more than 100,000 chairs, non-executive and independent directors. Learn more about the Climate Governance Initiative on our website.

Get in touch

Esme Montgomery Friedner | Senior Communications Manager | Climate Governance Initiative