SAP at COP28: Navigating Climate Change Together

Feature by Claudia Cortes
Dec 5, 2023 3:20 PM ET
Aerial view of a tree in a field of low green crops.

The world is watching as tens of thousands of leaders gather for the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) at Expo City in Dubai, UAE, from November 30 to December 12. The primary goal is to negotiate agreements that will limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The conference participants face complex challenges as they strive to turn these aspirations into concrete action. Amidst the vibrant backdrop of Dubai, the objective stands tall: to ensure that all nations, particularly the less affluent, aren’t disproportionately burdened in pursuing a sustainable world. Yet, can these ambitious goals truly be achieved?

The UN Climate Change Conference is a platform for governments to collaborate on creating policies against rising global temperatures and confronting the consequences of climate change. Over the years, these gatherings have shown progress, but many say they are too slow in creating tangible results. Recent assessments suggest a potential warming of 3 degrees Celsius, highlighting the urgent need for collective action to achieve the crucial 1.5-degree target.

COP28 aims to be more than just another meeting; it seeks to serve as a significant moment where the international community reflects on and evaluates the progress made since the 2015 Paris Agreement. Above all, it represents a critical self-assessment, examining what actions are required to bridge the gap by 2030.

SAP Promotes Sustainable Innovation: Making Progress Together

SAP is participating in COP28 and advocating for ambitious policy action and the adoption of technology for corporate sustainability management. Through the active participation of CEO and Member of the Executive Board of SAP SE Christian Klein, SAP Chief Marketing & Solutions Officer and Member of the Executive Board of SAP SE Julia White, and Chief Sustainability and Commercial Officer Sophia Mendelsohn, SAP showcases its critical role in advancing sustainability. SAP underscores its commitment to climate action by engaging in nearly 70 initiatives during COP28 on various fronts like carbon accounting, climate justice, and the circular economy.

Businesses of every stripe are reshaping their processes and how they operate to not only adjust to increasing regulation but to thrive in an era demanding zero emissions. “SAP’s customers generate 87% of the world’s global commerce, about US$46 trillion. That puts us in a unique position in which we play a critical role in the global economic ecosystem,” says Mendelsohn. “SAP can help 87% of total global commerce organize its supply chain, transportation, and financial data in a way that enables a circular and net zero economy.”

A recent study conducted by SAP revealed a significant advantage for businesses that proactively incorporate sustainability into their strategies, surpassing those that merely respond to external pressures. SAP’s solutions can help by streamlining data collection, enabling comprehensive analysis, sharing standardized data, and seamlessly integrating sustainability measures into core business processes. This transparency and integration can empower businesses to effectively navigate regulatory landscapes and make well-informed, sustainable decisions across their entire value chain.

SAP’s advocacy of managing carbon, fostering collaborative supply chain ecosystems, and supporting local initiatives in combating climate change and societal challenges exemplifies its strategic priorities driving this significant global shift towards sustainability. This underscores the urgency for all companies, regardless of size or industry, to prioritize sustainability. Climate change poses an unparalleled challenge that necessitates collective effort – a challenge no single entity can tackle alone.

That’s why SAP is working with a broad set of partners for sustainability. Alicia Lenze, global marketing head of Sustainability Marketing at SAP, says, “Collaborating with our global sustainability ecosystem is essential to our customer success. We work with partners of all kinds – institutional, strategic, consulting, and technology – to achieve our sustainability goals together. We actively engage with institutional partners such as The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), and We Mean Business (WMB) to demonstrate how we are helping companies take concrete actions to tackle climate change.”

SAP also strives to be a trusted sustainability partner to governments, international organizations, and civil society. By fostering meaningful relationships, SAP drives climate action through technology and advocates for effective climate policies and youth inclusion in a just transition. COP28 is an opportunity for governments to implement a balanced approach to addressing climate challenges, combining mitigation and adaptation with crucial technological support. “I’m hopeful for an ambitious and impactful set of outcomes, which will send a strong signal to all stakeholders, including businesses, that we need to act with urgency and scale to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement for our people and planet,” says Pete Selfridge, head of Global Government Affairs at SAP.

Empowering Change Through Education and Youth Action

SAP University Alliances is teaming up with Abu Dhabi University to host a special Academic Community Conference. Dr. Karina Edmonds, senior vice president and global head of SAP Academies and University Alliances, will lead the talks, focusing on the critical mix of education, sustainability, and technology. This partnership aims to teach the next generation of leaders, equipping them to navigate and work in our changing world. “Engaging academia and youth in SAP’s sustainability efforts is paramount. We are very proud to team up with our academic partners and innovation ecosystem during COP28 to facilitate dialogue around the power of emerging technologies in addressing climate change and its impact,” says Edmonds.

SAP also focuses on climate justice initiatives, particularly empowering youth through events like the Green Rising Showcase and Youth to the Table’s COP28 Collaborator Roundtable, highlighting the significance of youthful involvement in shaping a sustainable and equitable future. The private sector plays a big role in climate justice by bringing people together, speaking up, teaching new skills, and giving resources. Projects like Green Rising aim to involve 10 million young people in climate action. Ensuring youth representation in decision-making forums is vital for inclusive policies.

Climate justice is a critical element in addressing the challenges posed by climate change on a global scale. It emphasizes the need to tackle the uneven effects it has on various regions and populations, particularly those that are more susceptible. Projections suggest that by 2050, approximately 1.2 billion individuals could face displacement due to climate-related disasters, underlining the pressing need for action. These forecasts also indicate heightened health risks for nearly all of the world’s 2 billion children, potentially resulting in a 20% increase in malnutrition cases. Among the most affected are young people whose futures might encounter disruptions amidst these unfolding crises.

COP28 marks an important moment for global action on climate change. It represents an opportunity for collective effort, emphasizing the need for collaboration and a shared commitment to addressing this critical issue. SAP’s engagement goes beyond mere attendance – it entails spearheading initiatives toward a sustainable future, encouraging collective responsibility, innovation, and progress.