5. Climate change is everybody’s business and business needs to engage with different voices
While thousands of government negotiators formed the core of COP26, this year saw the voices of non-state actors play a larger and more influential role. NGOs, indigenous peoples, gender groups, young people, climate activists, protestors, and businesses engaged with what was happening in Glasgow – either on the ground, online, or around the world.
As we strive for net-zero, dialogue is critical: As businesses learn to navigate its path on sustainability and climate action, they need to resist the urge to exist in a vacuum of positive reinforcement, and they must learn how to engage with the different voices. Because, as the Peoples’ Climate March reminds us, “to change everything, we need everyone.”
Activists help by creating energy and momentum for climate action and bringing to light things that businesses didn't understand, but at the same time, activists have to understand that businesses cannot transform their supply chain overnight. By engaging with all stakeholders, we can bring climate activism from the street to the boardroom. We turn passion into strategy, and ultimately deliver climate action. There is an opportunity for courageous leadership from businesses to lead, by building what may have once been considered unlikely alliances to work together towards this common goal. Because climate change is everybody’s business.
As United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says, 1.5C may still be alive, but it is “on life support”. Climate change is everybody’s business, and we can’t ignore that we all have a part to play. Businesses big and small, and the people behind them, are going to have to lean in and take action. Business faces an opportunity to further contribute to planet and society, rebuilding the trust deficit triggered by the financial crisis.
COP26 has only reinforced the urgent need for us to work together and move quickly from purpose and promises to plans and proof. Our stakeholders in the planet and society won’t wait for COP27 for answers, and business has an unprecedented opportunity to collaborate and create value from sustainability for people and the planet. It’s time to embrace and jump into action – or be pushed.