Game Changer: Stephen Fern (Switzerland)

In Climate, Game Changers 16 by Mary Kurek

Stephen Fern is the Chairman of G9 Ark.  Following Law School, Stephen qualified as a chartered accountant with Arthur Andersen before establishing a financial education business which he sold in 1999.  He established the G9 in 2003, working with global business families to drive private capital into Impact, and developing a plan to end the climate crisis.

(Editor’s Note:  We caught up with Stephen preparing for his presentation at the United Nations Climate Summit the week of The Introducer’s 16th Edition being released.)

Q & A with Stephen:

Q:  Stephen, you say there was a moment in time when you realized that action was needed and you developed a plan at that point.  Can you tell us about that moment?

A:   It was in October of 2018 when the United Nations released that we didn’t, in fact, have 30 years to act, we had 10 years to solve the problem created by climate change.  We had to create a “moonshot solution” – something everyone could get behind. I had been working with ultra-high net worth (UHNW) families for over 17 years and I knew that we could mobilize private capital to not only halt the climate crisis but, to restore the planet to where we were before the industrial revolution.  The vision became clear – we needed to become a “force for good.” The G9 Ark Foundation was the solution.

Q:  Climate change is a hugely complex issue…how did you define it in order to develop a solution?

A:  Science and math…320 million hectares of ecosystems have been destroyed so far and 20 million hectares continue to be destroyed each year.  We, therefore, need to restore 500 million hectares of the global ecosystem for the planet to be in balance by 2030. We will concentrate on 5 key areas, restoring 100 million hectares of each over 10 years.  Those areas are Rainforests, Forests, the Savanna, Oceans, and Deserts. Our goal is to restore 10 million hectares a year in each one of these spaces. 

Q:  How do you fund and deploy your solution?

A:  We have over many years built a network of wealthy families around the world – many of them are families whose wealth was derived from owning large businesses and brands.  

We are building a funding program utilizing these connections to establish a worldwide customer rewards programe: Ark Rewards.  

Businesses around the world will be able to use Ark Rewards to attract, reward, and retain consumers who want to do business with organisations that care about the planet. The brand pays for the Ark reward points that it gives to its customers – whether giving points for spending or rewarding spending behaviour which is better for the planet, their contributions funnel into well established global programs that are creating an impact on climate change.  

It works at every level. We get to engage with every business that uses Ark rewards, helping them to become more responsible organisations. Those organisations get to attract a new generation of consumers with a programme that is paid for from existing marketing budgets and we get to guide consumers in understanding the implications of their choices. The Rewards scheme includes programmes for consumers and investors as well as a suite of ‘life events’ programmes where important celebrations of life like marriage and remembrance will be recognised by restoring the planet.

We have built a social network that will engage every citizen around the world who cares about the climate crisis, giving a voice to people who feel disenfranchised by politicians who are beholden to the very companies that are killing our planet.

We are launching the Ark on January 1, 2020, as the United Nations will be launching their “UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration” at that time.  

Stephen’s Networking Interests:

  • Businesses who want to be a part of the Ark community
  • Influencers (journalists, social media types, etc.) who can help expand the reach
  • Projects that are scalable that are reducing the problems in climate change
  • Ark Foundation families with connections to other foundations that want to contribute