The New Year always allows some review and planning and 2023 gives me the chance to determine my future ambition in the City of London.
My ambition is to create a Responsible City and one that is open to all the world. This would encompass:
• green finance (a Just Transition) and setting proper ESG benchmarks and taxonomy as well as promoting climate action strategies in the built environment with a focus on property matters;
• continuing engagement with the widest communities that cross the City including employees, stakeholders, shareholders and customers of our businesses (building on social mobility and financial inclusion);
• tackling fraud and anti-money laundering in order to show that the City addresses issues that besmirch our reputation;
• promotion of the work of the Judiciary and the Rule of Law; and
the philanthropic work of businesses in stewarding investments and dispersing funding by grants and social impact investment with proper monitoring as well as more traditional social responsibility.
Following these points this month I have spoken at two events around the ESG and Green Agenda. On 12th January I spoke at the World Traders’ Livery event looking at the challenges of ESG for today in a really practical way. A recent survey by Sensu Insight reported how public trust in business was waning and so claims are met with objections as to greenwashing or greenhushing. A 2 hour debate ensued led by Dr. Amina Aitsi-Selmi and Nick Mayhew. A further event hosted by CISI and the Financial Services Group of Livery Companies looked at the outcomes of COP27. A wide range of opinions was voiced with much concern but also buoyant optimism that more can and will be done.
The World Economic Forum took place in Davos and sadly I did not attend in person, but was able to tune into a series of meetings online and so used much less carbon. I was very impressed with one initiative that speaks to my long held belief that we need to harness the philanthropic engagement with the public and private forces to do good. This new initiative took the name of GAEA and was launched at Davos by the WEF. Using the initials of the word meaning Earth or Mother Earth - Giving to Amplify Earth Action – GAEA’s programme will leverage philanthropic capital to help generate the $3 trillion needed each year from public and private sources to tackle climate change and nature loss. It is ground-breaking and supported by more than 45 major philanthropic, public and private sector partners.
Property is one of the largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the City of London and the City Corporation’s Climate Action Strategy is working to reduce them. Heritage Buildings have their own complications and there are 600 Listed Buildings in the City alone. In creating a framework for listed and heritage buildings the Corporation called a meeting of professionals to discuss the issues. Our group including architects, property owners and solicitors saw the problems and found some solutions or preferred outcomes. The final guidance will be issued in due course. which I will share with you.
2023 means you may hear a lot from me about Dick Whittington. This is the 600th anniversary of his death. He lived in my Ward of Dowgate and was buried in the Church at St Michael Paternoster Royal, although the Church has burnt down, been bombed and rebuilt twice since 1423. His grave is no longer marked but he does have a Blue Plaque. Dowgate Ward is planning a commemoration. However what is important to mark is his rise to riches in the City as a merchant in cloth (Mercer), his civic service as (Lord) Mayor of London and his philanthropic generosity to the City during his life and in his will. An example to us all. A display of his will and other objects is now at the Heritage Gallery in Guildhall.
I will be taking part in the Lady Mayoress’s Sleep Out for the second year. Pitching a sleeping bag in Guildhall Yard on 16th March. I shall be pleased of any sponsorship on my Just Giving page for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal and Pret Foundation helping homeless and rough sleepers in the Capital. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alison-gowman Please support me.
Energy prices and sourcing are key issues for the World today as we can see played out in our own UK economy. Driven by the “polycrisis” of Ukraine and security, post pandemic, cost of living and (failed) policies there is a danger of the transition to renewables and decarbonisation being derailed. I believe that the current situation should drive us to continue our pledges to net zero and by efficiencies and innovation keep our commitment and achieve our carbon goals. So it is good to see energy take a prominent position at the World Economic Forum 2023. A new report Securing the energy transition explores this and concludes that action in a determined way through investing in the supply, pivoting to clean solutions and collaborating across borders this can be achieved. Incentives are required especially to help those most in need. The complexities are not to be under estimated but the parties at Davos should ensure all relevant sectors industries and nations are around the table to take the right action.
Securing the Energy Transition | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)