On 14 November 2022, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese gave a keynote address at the B20 summit (the business arm of the G20 summit) on building a strong and resilient economic strategy. Collaboration on climate change was called out by Prime Minister Albanese as a particular opportunity in Australia's and other nations' economic recovery from COVID-19 and global supply chain shocks.

Herbert Smith Freehills' global CEO, Justin D'Agostino attended the B20 summit as a member of the Executive Board of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Collaboration and investment on climate

In a speech focused on innovative, inclusive and collaborative economic growth, Prime Minister Albanese noted that the “challenge and opportunity” of responding to climate change would draw together key drivers of economic growth from across technology, skills, research, jobs, investment, infrastructure and trade.

Prime Minister Albanese observed that for both governments and business, investing in clean energy will enhance individual countries' energy security as well as strengthen collective action on climate change. An element of envisaged investment will see Australia working to grow its clean energy export industry in collaboration with regional neighbours and other nations – to help reduce carbon emissions and support economic growth and improvement in living standards. Prime Minister Albanese noted that no country is immune from the challenge of climate change and remarked that all nations must play their part in the solution.

Herbert Smith Freehills' forthcoming report Unlocking ESG Investment in Australia expands on these themes, with analysis of the current barriers to greater levels of ESG-aligned investment in Australia. In preparing the report, we conducted an extensive survey of more than 100 business leaders, gathering insights on the size and shape of ESG investment challenges and opportunities across the breadth of M&A, capex and financial investment. The report will be available at www.hsf.com in the coming week.

Drivers of broader economic recovery

Other highlights from the Prime Minister's address include:

  • Recovery from current economic challenges requires collaboration and innovation. Prime Minister Albanese observed that the global supply shocks and the challenges Australia and other nations currently face are different from those faced in previous economic downturns and that innovation, and inclusive and collaborative growth will be needed as a result. Sharing of research, technology and expertise were highlighted as enablers of economic growth, as well as the breaking down of tariff walls, creation of trade bridges and investment in enabling infrastructure such as ports and freight terminals, energy pipelines and transmission technology to speed the exchange of goods and resources.
  • Private sector collaboration will play a key role in recovering “stronger and together”. Prime Minister Albanese remarked that economic growth would not be sustained by the actions of governments alone, but will depend on the insights, enterprise, cooperation and investment of businesses, financial institutions, civil society, and workers' representatives. While central banks are responding to inflationary pressures around the world, Prime Minister Albanese noted that both macroeconomic policy coordination and cross-border private sector collaboration will play an important role in managing inflation. With respect to collaboration, business was noted to have “a lot to teach” across competitive growth and best practice productivity.
  • Supply chain resilience and other policy responses will be key to our recovery. Prime Minister Albanese outlined key levers for collaborative, inclusive and innovative economic recovery, including:
    • ensuring tax systems reward people for hard work and repay the initiative and enterprise of businesses and job creators;
    • building diversity and resilience of supply chains to better withstand global shocks;
    • helping developing countries manage rising debt sustainably;
    • investing in skills and the productivity of our workforce; and
    • strengthening trade links, including for the sharing of research, technology, education and expertise.

The speech marked the conclusion of the B20 summit, with the G20 summit commencing today. Key themes expected to be covered by the G20 include economic recovery, sustainable energy and responding to the climate crisis.

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