Are climate-related pledges credible?

On the side lines of COP28, new pledges and commitments have sprung from states as well as non-state entities. Here is the checklist of what makes joining a climate or SDG-related pledge worthy.

There is a proliferation of pledges launched by the private sector, (e.g. The Finance Sector Deforestation Action, Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge) as well as states (e.g. the Global Methane Pledge or the Declaration to triple nuclear energy by 2050 both launched at COP28).

While they can be a great tool to accelerate sustainability, consider these 4 must-haves before joining:

  • The pledge sets a clear path of action and guidelines towards a specific target.
  • The pledge encourages collaboration and best practice sharing amongst signatories.
  • The pledge includes the provision of concerted efforts to mobilise investments.
  • The pledge has an established accountability mechanism.

You will find that most pledges contain the first three criteria but most lag behind when it comes to accountability but the tracking mechanism is the lynchpin of credibility.

These are the questions you need to ask:

Is there any governance in place? Yes. There is a provision for accountability from the get go which signatories commit to and there are individuals in charge of developing the accountability framework

Is the verification framework clear about what needs to be verified? Yes. The verification framework has been communicated and focuses on key aligned reported data from signatories.

Is there room for increasing the depth of reporting over the years? Yes. Progress reports capture data over the years and include relevant impact areas. The methodology is strengthened to better reflect depth of action from signatories.

Here is what we learned building the reporting framework for The Zero Hunger Pledge

Walk The Talk took part in establishing the governance and reporting framework for the Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge. With companies already bound by dozens of reporting obligations in line with various compliance requirements, another reporting ask can be a big burden. In the case of the Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge, companies make a financial commitment in at least one of 10 high-impact intervention areas and in at least one of priority countries or region (as defined by the Ceres2030 Research report). For the first reporting cycle, the verification framework considered one single KPI: Investments deployed in that reporting period. This unique piece of information could be obtained from all companies. The fact that it was light-touch, ensured companies were supportive and willing. Findings highlighted that yes, the private sector was taking action but more investments were needed to bridge the financing gap to achieve SDG 2 – Zero Hunger – and more financing was needed in higher priority countries in Africa.

References: The UNs’ high level expert group published landmark “Integrity matters” report where it identifies five principles* relevant to any type of pledge. It sets the path for honest commitments, free of “greenwashing” temptations.

*Five Principles

  1. Ambition which delivers significant near-and medium-term emissions      reductions on a path to global net zero by 2050
  2. Demonstrated integrity by aligning commitments with actions and investments
  3. Radical transparency in sharing relevant, non-competitive, comparable data on plans and progress
  4. Established credibility through plans based in science and third-party accountability
  5. Demonstrable commitment to both equity and justice in all actions