How can countries strengthen their economic performance while tackling the challenges posed by climate change? This question lies at the heart of efforts to mobilize the resources and will needed for ambitious climate action.

Recent years have witnessed the most serious global economic crisis since the Great Depression. At the same time, extreme weather events and rising sea-levels have made clear the increasingly costly impact of climate change. The unsustainable use of resources, coupled with a growing world population and rapidly rising demand for energy, pose daunting challenges for keeping global warming within internationally agreed limits.

Several recent analyses contend that the benefits of moving toward more sustainable, low carbon growth far outweigh the risks of inaction, which include extensive loss of life, livelihoods, and infrastructure, as well as increased food insecurity and water scarcity. According to these studies, improving economic performance and pursuing low-carbon, climate resilient growth is not only compatible, but indeed one and the same objective.

This session will feature leaders and world renowned experts from China, India, Mexico, and the United States, who will discuss what transformations are needed in how we produce food and energy, build cities and transport goods to ensure a healthy planet while fostering strong, climate resilient economies. They will also explore what strategies, policies and investments we should pursue to bring these transformations to reality.

Session Notes

Watch the session webcast:


PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY H.E. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of the Republic of Turkey

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was born in Istanbul on February 26, 1954. He graduated from Marmara University’s Faculty of Economics and Commercial Sciences. Erdoğan was elected Istanbul Mayor in the local elections of March 27, 1994. He was sentenced to a prison term because of a poem he recited in a public address and removed from the office. After four months in prison, Erdoğan established the Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) with a group of friends on August 14, 2001. In 2002, the general elections resulted with AK Parti winning two-thirds of the seats in parliament. Not permitted to become a candidate deputy in the elections of 2002, Erdoğan participated in the renewal elections on March 9, 2003 and became a deputy for the province of Siirt. Appointed Prime Minister on March 15, 2003, Erdoğan continued to harbor his ideal of a bright and rapidly developing Turkey, implementing numerous reforms of vital importance within a short period of time. As the chairman of Justice and Development Party which won general elections on 22 July 2007 as well as on 12 June 2011 with overwhelming majority, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan formed the 60th and 61st Governments of the Republic of Turkey. Following the Presidential Elections on 10 August 2014, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became the first directly elected President of Turkey. He received 52 per cent of the votes in the first round of the elections. He was sworn in as the 12th President of the Republic of Turkey on 28 August 2014.
Erdoğan is married and the father of four.

H.E. Mr. Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of EthiopiaH.E. Mr. Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Born on 19 July 1965, H.E. Mr. Hailemariam Dessalegn is a BSc graduate in Civil Engineering and an Msc Engineering graduate from Tampere University of Technology, Finland. He has also an MA in Organizational Leadership from Azusa Pacific University, California, USA. H.E. Mr. Hailemariam taught for several years and later became the Dean of the Arbaminch University. He was then elected as the Vice-President of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State from 2000 to 2001 and President of the Regional State from 2001 to 2006. From 2006 to 2008, he was appointed as a Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Social Affairs, Civic Organizations and Partnership with the rank of Minister and later became the Government Chief Whip from 2008 to 2010. In September 2010, H.E. Mr. Hailemariam Dessalegn was elected as the Vice-Chairperson of the Executive Council of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front (EPRDF). He was also appointed as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. After the untimely demise of the late Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Meles Zenawi in August 2012, Mr. Hailemariam Dessalegn was elected as the Chairperson of the EPRDF and on 21 September 2012, he was sworn in as the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.



H.E. Mr. Felipe Calderón, Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate

Felipe Calderón is Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, as well as current Honorary Chairman of the Green Growth Action Alliance, member of the Policy Advisory Council of the WBCSD, President of the Sustainable Human Development Foundation and member of the Board of Directors of the WRI. He served as President of Mexico from 2006 to 2012.  During his period in office Mexico positioned itself as a global leader in fighting climate change. Prior to becoming President Felipe Calderón served as Secretary of Energy, and General Director of BANOBRAS. He was elected to the Federal Congress in 1991, becoming Secretary-General of the National Action Party, President and Leader of the Parliamentary Group. He was earlier a Representative in the Assembly of Mexico City (1988-91).  President Calderon has been named “Statesman of the Year” by the World Economic Forum and “2011 Champion of the Earth” by the United Nations, he has received the Teddy Roosevelt award, among many other distinctions.
Felipe Calderón has a Bachelor’s degree in law, a Masters in Economics from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México; and a Masters in Public Administration from the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.


Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University

Jeff Sachs is the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals, having held the same position under former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He is Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He is co-founder and Chief Strategist of Millennium Promise Alliance, and is director of the Millennium Villages Project. Sachs is also one of the Secretary-General’s MDG Advocates, and a Commissioner of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Development. He has authored three New York Times bestsellers in the past seven years: The End of Poverty (2005), Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet (2008), and The Price of Civilization (2011). His most recent book is To Move the World: JFK’s Quest for Peace (2013).

LeenaLeena Srivastava, Executive Director of the Energy and Resources Institute

Leena Srivastava is currently the Vice Chancellor of the TERI University in addition to being the Hony. Executive Director at TERI, New Delhi. She serves on the Executive Committee of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative of the UN Secretary General and the Energy Advisory Board of the World Economic Forum, the Scientific Advisory Panel of the Climate of the UNEP’s Clean Air Coalition and the International Advisory Board of the Helmholtz program on Technology, Innovation and Society. Dr Srivastava is also a former member of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change, as well as the Indian government’s Expert Committee to formulate India’s energy policy, Expert Committee on auto fuels and National Security Advisory Board. She was a lead author for Working Group III of the Third Assessment Report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and contributed to the Fourth Assessment Report as well. Dr  Srivastava holds a Bachelor’s degree in economics and mathematics as well as a Master’s degree in economics from the University of Hyderabad, and a Ph.D. in Affordable Energy from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

jintao xuJintao Xu, Director of the China Center for Energy and Development, Peking University

Jintao Xu has been serving as Director of the China Center for Energy and Development at the National School of Development, Peking University since 2012 and the Coordinator of the university’s Environmental Economics Program in China since 2007. Prior to that, he was the Chair of Peking University’s Department of Environmental Management from 2009-2011. He has written numerous papers and journal articles with a particular focus on comparative studies of forest management systems, transportation management, as well as the economics of climate policies and international negotiations. Prof. Xu currently holds special appointments as a member of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Asia-Pacific Forest Policy Think Tank and the Global Adaptation Institute’s Council of Scientific Advisors, along with a position as a senior expert at the China Green Carbon Fund. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in management engineering from Jilin University of Technology, along with a Master’s degree in forest economics from Beijing Forestry University and a Ph.D. in forestry from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.


Official portrait of the SG of OECD Angel GurríaH.E. Mr. Angel Gurría, Secretary-General, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Mr. Gurría has been the Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) since June 2006. He was re-appointed to a second mandate in September 2010. As Secretary-General, he has reinforced the OECD’s role as a ‘hub’ for global dialogue and debate on economic policy issues while pursuing internal modernisation and reform. Under his leadership, the OECD has expanded its membership to include Chile, Estonia, Israel and Slovenia. It has also strengthened its links with other major emerging economies, including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa, with a view to possible membership.
The OECD is now an active participant in both the G-8 and the G-20 Summit processes. Mr. Gurría has steered the launching of high profile initiatives, including in the areas of Innovation and Green Growth. Prior to assuming his post as Secretary-General, Mr. Gurría had a distinguished career in public service in Mexico, including two ministerial posts, serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1994-1998 and as Minister of Finance and Public Credit from 1998-2000. Mr. Gurría holds a B.A. degree in Economics from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and a M.A. degree in Economics from Leeds University (United Kingdom).


United Nations Host

Sebastian von Einsiedel
Director, UNU-Centre for Policy Research
United Nations University

UN Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team

Joshua Seidman-Zager