Monika Langthaler, R20 EU&Austria Director, presents the 2019 edition of the R20 Austrian World Summit and comes back on the history and objectives of this initiative she is spearheading from Vienna.
Monika, you are the director of the R20 Austrian World Summit. What is the Summit all about and how did this initiative come to life?
The R20 AUSTRIAN WORLD SUMMIT is all about showcasing international best-practice examples and becoming a global platform to achieve the Paris climate goals and the UN sustainability goals. Over 700 representatives from the private and public sectors, politics, the UN, NGOs and civil society from over 50 nations attended the launch conference at the Hofburg in 2017. Every year the conference has grown and it shows that climate protection is a global movement that can no longer be stopped. Whether politics or business, the course for a future worth living must be set now in order to achieve the 2030 targets.
Climate protection is at the heart of the R20 Austrian World Summit, but can you tell us more about this year’s agenda and focal topics?
Besides concentrating on rising ambition, cooperation, green finance and health, this year’s new focal point will be climate communication. The outcome of the R20 AWS 2018 identified climate communication as a key force to mobilizing and supporting climate action. How can new groups be encouraged to initiate climate awareness? We will hold discussions with media representatives, communication experts, scientists and well-known protagonists of climate action on how strategies and tools for successful climate communication should be handled.
You mentioned Finance and Health. Why are these two topics in particular so detrimental in the fight against climate change in your view?
There are plenty of examples in various locations on the planet, which prove that a sustainable path is an economically profitable course of action. Therefore, a greener finance sector can significantly contribute to the decarbonizing of our economy and establish sustainability on all levels. When it comes to health, this year’s focus will lie on plastic waste. It has become one of the biggest threats to our planet and as a consequence to our society. An increasing amount of plastic is reaching the oceans and entering our food chains. For the first time in history plastic particles are being found in the human body. We understand that finding new strategies to reduce plastic waste requires urgent steps to avoid further irreparable damage being inflicted on our ecosystems.
Showcasing success stories is a central theme of the R20 Austrian World Summit. Why is this so important and how can the concrete solutions presented be leveraged beyond the Summit?
The transfer of technology and knowledge is one key element for speeding up the green transformation. The individual cases provide valuable lessons on the success factors, as well as on the challenges we have to be aware of. Every single participant can be inspired by these best practice examples and take them to their home country to be implemented.
This will be the 3rd edition of the Summit. Can you explain how the R20 Austrian World Summit has evolved over the years and what will be new this year?
Over time the interest in our conference has grown. Therefore, this year after the annual conference, for the first time there will also be a Climate Kirtag. On the 28th of May starting from 3 pm Vienna´s Heldenplatz will turn into a fairground for climate action. The people can experience Arnold Schwarzenegger, climate activist Greta Thunberg, the musicians Conchita as well as Pizzera & Jaus, ski star Aksel Lund Svindal, actress and model Barbara Meier and many more live on stage.
Why is the Climate Kirtag a significant addition to the Summit in your opinion?
Global warming is a serious issue, but the Climate Kirtag is meant to include and inspire everyone to be a part of the climate protection movement in a fun and entertaining way. It is about celebrating what we have already achieved together and showing our continuing commitment to work actively on solutions for a climate-friendly future.