Sustainability Leadership A-List 2023
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Sustainability Leadership A-List 2023: Asia Pacific’s most impactful changemakers

Faced with extreme weather events, the region’s urban centres were affected by record temperatures. This year’s list – which includes a city mayor and a chief heat officer – demonstrates the importance of local governance and leadership.

The year 2023 was the hottest on record, with the increase in Earth’s surface temperature nearly crossing the critical threshold of 1.5°C. Across cities in Asia Pacific, local governments stepped up action to combat heat stress. Many paid special heed to how vulnerable groups of residents, including outdoor workers and low-income families, were unequally impacted by extreme heat.

In a warming world that has entered the “era of global boiling”, some governments have appointed “chief heat officers” whose job is to coordinate a response to heatwaves, and more importantly, communicate heat risks to residents in a more strategic manner. In this year’s Sustainability Leadership A-List, this new role is cast under the spotlight as we celebrate the achievements of local leaders, including a chief heat officer.

Tom Brzostowski, Singapore country director of conservation group The Nature Conservancy, and a Sustainability Leadership A-List judge, said that there is an important role for local government leadership to champion the fight against climate change, particularly when there is a gap or gulf that has not been met with national or global leadership.

Using the example of the United States under the previous administration of Donald Trump, which said it would withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, Brzostowski said: “Then it was really inspiring and encouraging that there were many mayors of different cities who said, ‘No, we are still adhering to the climate goals and we are going to go above and beyond’.”

The Sustainability Leadership A-List 2023 also recognises a mayor from the Philippines who is leading the charge to invigorate and green the Philippines’ most populous city. As the world recognises the critical intersection of health and climate, the list acknowledges the contributions of individuals who are leading their organisations to strengthen climate resilience and take better care of their communities.

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