Disrupting the climate status quo
The Office of Global Partnerships (E/GP) officially launched the Connecting Climate Entrepreneurs (CCE) initiative at the U.S. Pavilion during COP26 on November 3, 2021. A joint effort between the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (SPEC), the Office of Global Partnerships (E/GP), the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), and private sector partners Salesforce, LinkedIn, and General Electric (GE), CCE aims to address the climate crisis and contribute to economic empowerment in developing countries by nurturing entrepreneurship aimed at climate solutions.
CCE will draw upon new and existing State Department programs and enlist private sector partners to enable startup-driven green growth globally.
Climate change is the defining global challenge of our time. The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report underscores the widespread and alarming impacts already occurring because of climate change.
But climate change is not just about threats and challenges; it is also about opportunities to transform the way we produce and use energy. Investment in clean energy over the last decade grew from less than $50 billion to over $250 billion per year. The International Energy Agency projects that cumulative investment in the power sector may reach nearly $17 trillion from 2012–2035, including $6.4 trillion in renewable energy technologies. In terms of demand, today nearly 1.3 billion people are without access to electricity and the anticipated growth in energy use will largely come from developing countries.
To confront our shared climate change challenge head-on, we need to catalyze clean energy, climate adaptation, and resilient technologies, and disrupt the status quo. To accomplish this, we must harness both the best entrepreneurs and technologies to meet the growing demand for energy with the common goal of providing access to sustainable clean energy and economic development.
Startups and entrepreneurs can be critical drivers of change and provide innovative solutions to address climate change challenges on local and global scales. Entrepreneurs often emerge in response to specific problems, demands, or gaps in the market. By identifying and pursuing new business opportunities, entrepreneurs and startups can generate economic value, create jobs, and accelerate development, while often delivering social and environmental benefits for the customers and communities they serve.
By offering support through capital, capacity building, technical assistance, access to mentorship, and network building in the early and growth stages, the U.S. Department of State and its partners can help climate change entrepreneurs engage relevant stakeholders, refine their designs, demonstrate success in the market, and then deploy effective technologies and solutions for greater global impact.
The CCE Partnership, through close collaboration between its partners and their networks, promotes the following four pillars to support climate change-inspired startups and entrepreneurs: Capital, Expertise, Engagement, Deployment.
- Capital – Provide funding through initiatives and programs to increase scale-up / start-ups participating in sustainable economic development, and support entrepreneurs in investing and building enterprises while stimulating employment and trade in developing and emerging markets.
- Expertise – Partners are drawn from diverse sectors and backgrounds, each sharing a spirit of inquiry and a desire to accelerate solutions to the climate crisis by providing skills and knowledge with start-ups and scale-ups. E/GP and ECA will work with these partners to bring experts and practitioners together through various programs.
- Engagement – Facilitate market-based delegations of climate change startups, entrepreneurs, and investors to countries and regions of interest. Delegations will meet with local political, business, and thought leaders and discuss partnership opportunities around investment. These exchanges seek to provide insight and networks to access global markets, highlight potential areas for investment, and inspire collaboration to bring innovations to the climate change market. ECA will organize or facilitate exchange participants coming to the United States through the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) and BridgeUSA program.
- Deployment – The partners will assist in bringing resources, ideas, technological breakthroughs, and solutions into effective action.
Salesforce will leverage its extensive networks, capital and expertise to enhance all areas of CCE programming, including in ClimateOpps, IVLP, and Partnership Opportunity Delegations (PODs) as potential hosts, speakers, mentors, and delegates. Specifically, Salesforce will leverage its newly announced $300 million fund in support of new investments towards reforestation, ecosystem restoration, and climate justice.
LinkedIn will provide vital information on economic trends to CCE partners to help them adapt jobs and skills to meet the climate challenge. LinkedIn will use its platform to enable CCE stakeholders – including multinational employers, accelerators and green entrepreneurs – to communicate, connect and engage with one another across the full spectrum of CCE initiatives around the world.
General Electric (GE) will engage across all aspects of CCE programming, providing expertise, delegates, speakers, and mentors to exchange and share data and information with CCE entrepreneurs. Leveraging networks and expertise from its research centers in Niskayuna, New York and Bangalore, India, GE will contribute its expertise on climate and sustainability solutions for aviation, energy, and healthcare.
- ClimateOpps | a new program under the StartOpps partnership that aims to connect climate entrepreneurs globally with U.S. accelerators to identify country-specific, actionable partnership opportunities for entrepreneurs.
- PODs | Partnership Opportunity Delegation (PODs) of U.S. private sector representatives on multi-day programs to connect with local entrepreneurs on targeted opportunities identified via ClimateOpps and in coordination with U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world.
- IVLPs | International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) multi-day projects for promising climate entrepreneurs from target countries.
- BridgeUSA | Training & Internships | New and existing U.S. sponsors for current J-Visa trainees and /interns or Summer Work Travel participants from target developing countries would commit to expanding J-1 opportunities on climate entrepreneurship. (e.g., placing more exchange visitors in companies and organizations in this field).