CEF Spotlight

2023 C.K. Prahalad Award for Business Sustainability Leadership Honors the First Movers Coalition

Award recognizes winners for exemplifying the fundamental connection between sustainability, innovation and long-term business success.

CEF presented the 2023 C.K. Prahalad Award to the First Movers Coalition, recognizing the coalition’s groundbreaking efforts to decarbonize high-emitting industries. The award was announced in connection with the 2023 CEF Annual Leadership Retreat, attended by senior executives representing CEF member companies with combined revenues of more than $5 trillion.


The First Movers Coalition, an initiative aiming to accelerate the race to net-zero, brings together cross-sector partnerships and collective action to address the decarbonization of seven major industries responsible for more than one-third of global carbon emissions. These hard-to-abate sectors, including aluminum, aviation, chemicals, cement and concrete, shipping, steel, and trucking, have proven challenging to decarbonize. Without urgent progress in clean technology innovation, there is concern their combined share of global emissions could surpass 50 percent by 2050.

“We are thrilled to honor the First Movers Coalition, and in particular the leadership of the US Special Envoy, John Kerry, and the World Economic Forum, with the 2023 C.K. Prahalad Award,” said MR Rangaswami, Founder of CEF. “Strong joint efforts such as this are needed to address the systemic and global nature of climate change and we’re proud that so many participating companies are CEF members including Amazon, Apple, Bank of America, Boeing, Delta Air Lines, Ecolab, Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Google, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Salesforce, Schneider Electric, and Trane Technologies.”

Launched in November 2021 by the Office of the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and the World Economic Forum, the First Movers Coalition is a unique global public-private initiative. It has aligned and united a diverse range of players, leveraging the support of highly ambitious government partners representing over 40% of the global GDP. Collaborating with Canada, Denmark, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, the UAE, and the United Kingdom, the United States is leading the effort to create early markets for clean technologies through policy measures and private-sector engagement.

Recognizing the need for clean energy technologies that are not yet commercially competitive, the Coalition’s members commit to purchasing a portion of long-distance transportation services, and industrial materials such as aluminum, steel, and concrete, from suppliers utilizing near-zero or zero-carbon solutions, even if at a premium cost. Currently, more than 80 companies have made $12 billion in purchase commitments.

Each sector within the Coalition has established specific emission reduction goals. For instance, Coalition members in the aviation sector will replace at least 5% of conventional jet fuel demand with sustainable aviation fuels capable of reducing life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions by 85% or more compared to conventional jet fuels. Similarly, the shipping sector aims to power at least 5% of its deep-sea shipping with zero-emission fuels by 2030, with a target of 100% by 2040.

Furthermore, the Coalition has set ambitious commitments for companies to purchase durable and scalable carbon removal solutions by 2030, with Alphabet, Microsoft, and Salesforce leading the charge by committing a combined total of $500 million. To support its objectives, the Coalition collaborates with Breakthrough Energy, which brings together public and private partners to drive technology deployment, and Boston Consulting Group, the primary knowledge partner. Additionally, the Mission Possible Partnership mobilizes partners from leading organizations to design sectoral commitments and amplify impact through expertise and networking.

The urgency of the climate crisis demands a reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieving net-zero by mid-century, as determined by the latest climate science. The First Movers Coalition understands that disruptive clean technologies must be brought to the market at scale to achieve these targets. By sending a powerful demand signal, the Coalition is driving the development of technologies required for a more sustainable future.

World Economic Forum President Børge Brende added “The World Economic Forum gratefully accepts the esteemed C.K. Prahalad Award for the First Movers Coalition’s pioneering sustainability efforts. This recognition underscores our collective commitment to drive decarbonization in our global hard to abate industries. We extend sincere appreciation to our dedicated government partners and members for their instrumental collaboration in achieving this milestone, who are critical in accelerating the supply of innovative clean technologies.”

The C.K. Prahalad Award is bestowed in honor of renowned business strategist C.K. Prahalad, who emphasized the importance of business collaboration to tackle the challenges of our world. Prahalad believed that true collaboration goes beyond resource sharing and knowledge exchange, instead uncovering opportunities to “create new value that could not have been created alone.”

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