By Per Heggenes
As the UN General Assembly (UNGA) meets in New York, the IKEA Foundation is calling for clear commitments in three closely related areas: bold climate action, access to renewable energy for all, and greater self-reliance for refugees.
We believe that by working together to address these issues, we can create bright future on a liveable planet for all children and youth. It’s vital that we listen to young people and act on their concerns. That’s why I am representing the IKEA Foundation at Reimagining Education: Preparing the Next Generation with Skills for the Future, organised by UNICEF, Generation Unlimited and the Global Business Coalition for Education.
For us, this means taking risks and being willing to embark on unprecedented collaborations between business, philanthropy and the humanitarian sector. We will advocate for this approach at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit and must also be prepared to put our own house in order. I am looking forward to chairing a roundtable discussion this week between UN agencies and philanthropic organisations on how we can minimise our own organisational carbon footprints. On Monday 23 September, at the opening ceremony of Climate Week, I will also call on business and political leaders to sustain momentum for climate action.
At the same time, supporting viable alternatives to fossil fuels is central to our strategy. Together with our partners, we are calling for a swift transition to a renewable energy economy—one in which no one is left behind.
At the Climate Action Summit, our partner Sustainable Energy for All (SEforAll) will bring together NGOs, businesses and philanthropies working in renewable energy to find shared solutions. We fully support their approach, which puts the most vulnerable communities at the heart of renewable energy access, while making productive use of technologies. Once again, collaboration is vital; the time for working in silos is over!
And as more people than ever before are affected by displacement increasingly caused by climate change, helping refugees towards self-reliance is high on our agenda. We support the UN’s Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, which calls for refugees to be included in their host communities right from the start. This means supporting both refugee and host communities to become self-reliant by dismantling barriers to job opportunities and investing in new ones.
For example, in Dollo Ado in Ethiopia, our partnership with UNHCR is making progress in helping refugees and members of the host community afford a better life. It’s a model that we hope can be replicated elsewhere, as investing in refugee livelihoods boosts local markets and the economy. Investing in host community livelihoods helps them hone skills for future generations, prevents conflicts caused by unemployment and inequality, and nurtures peaceful communities.
The meetings in New York next week bring together governments, business leaders, young people, philanthropies and humanitarian organisations. What better opportunity to call for togetherness and collective action in solving our problems? If we can do this—and I believe we can—we will achieve great progress towards creating a future fit for all our children.