Thought Leadership option 1

The Chairperson’s Perspective: Shaping the board’s strategic direction on climate 

We are in a decisive decade to accelerate action against climate change. Choices made over the next decade will impact the world for centuries to come, and business leaders must be advocates for taking action to address climate change within their organisation and beyond.

The World Economic Forum and the Climate Governance Initiative, in collaboration with Deloitte, have designed guides to help equip business leaders with the knowledge and resources they need to take meaningful steps towards a sustainable future.

Shaping the board’s strategic direction on climate 

Climate change is a global emergency. One that will impact every person on Earth, and a challenge that will require collaboration across the public, private and financial sectors to address. Business leaders play a crucial role in the transition to a net-zero economy and are uniquely positioned to leverage their resources to collaborate and innovate on sustainability solutions across industries and disciplines.

Boards play a vital role in guiding businesses and markets towards a more sustainable future. They provide leadership and direction to management, ensuring that long term views are captured in current decision-making. Boards must be properly educated in order to ask the right questions – know where to push and what a good answer really is. The aim is to bring together the best practices from chairpersons who are leading the way on climate, to continue pushing ambitions and raise the bar for positive action.

These guides reveal key insights from chairpersons leading climate action, consider how key stakeholder groups are responding to a climate driven future and help chairs understand the decarbonization roadmap. Each paper raises the critical questions chairpersons and board members should be asking each other and their executive leadership teams.

Download the Chairperson’s Guides:

1. The Chairperson’s Insights into Climate Action

Guide 1 Climate Action

The Chairperson’s Insights into Climate Action provides a summary of highlights from interviews with 16 members of the World Economic Forum’s Community of Chairpersons on the topic of climate action. It explores key issues and best practices for board members across strategy, risk and opportunity, stakeholders, board competence and operations in relation to climate. It provides answers to the complex questions posed during the interviews and encourages chairpersons globally to ask these questions of themselves and their boards, if they aren’t already.

2. The Chairperson’s Guide to Climate Stakeholders

Guide 2 stakeholders

The Chairperson’s Guide to Climate Stakeholders paper puts a spotlight on how key stakeholder groups are responding to climate change and how they might respond in the future. Chairpersons must be cognisant of the various economic and existential risks presented by stakeholder reactions to climate, whether they are foreseen or unforeseen. The guide provides tools for chairpersons to consider potential high-impact reactions to their company’s operations and gain a deeper understanding of how stakeholders influence each other. The paper helps navigate the complexities presented by a diverse stakeholder network and highlights the short-term trade-offs that boards will need to make.

3. The Chairperson’s Guide to Decarbonization

Guide 3 decarbonisation

The Chairperson’s Guide to Decarbonization focuses on the role of chairpersons and boards in developing a robust climate mitigation strategy. The paper informs chairpersons of the foundational knowledge for why businesses must address climate change and provides a roadmap to thriving in a low carbon economy. Drawing on global case studies, the guide demonstrates the threats of not taking climate action, and the opportunities of embedding climate within company strategy.

Guide 4 - Just Transition

The Chairperson’s Guide to a Just Transition focuses on the role of chairpersons and boards in addressing previous systemic inequalities and ensure new systems are fair and inclusive, while remaining profitable and in balance with the needs of the people and the environment. This paper outlines the need for boards to have a strong understanding of the just transition and its impact on key stakeholder groups by asking guiding questions, and highlighting exciting opportunities presented by the just transition. It provides foundational understanding of the just transition, its key stakeholders, questions and considerations for board members.

Paper 5 - Valuing Nature

The Chairperson’s Guide to Valuing Nature explores risks and opportunities related to nature loss and outlines key steps Chairs, non-executive directors and board members can take to incorporate nature as core to business strategy. This guide aims to help Chairpersons drive the conversation to ensure that board members understand the risks and opportunities to successfully – and responsibly – steward the business through the transition. It outlines the risks businesses face from nature loss, including lost biodiversity, including soaring commodity prices, job losses, increased regulatory requirements, political instability and failure to achieve net-zero targets.

For a definition of climate terms used in the Chairperson’s Guides, visit the Glossary of Climate terms page.