GLOBE-Net, December 13, 2013
By Helle Bank Jorgensen
While business that attended the Climate Summits and COP19 seemed more than ready for a climate deal, the negotiations during COP19 in Warsaw, Poland seemed more like no-go-tiations.
This was my impression after returning from Warsaw, Poland where this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference took place.
It is very positive to see the commitment from businesses such as Phillips, Siemens, Dow, IKEA, Unilever, Coca Cola, Velux, BMW etc.
“We have No time to wait and No need to wait to improve the quality of our lives.” — Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public & Government Affairs at Philips Lighting.
However, business was not at the negotiation table and here it seems as if the negotiators were more focused on saying No than on creating a better world for themselves and their children.
I recognize that the issue is more complex than this, however it would be great to see the same level of urgency in the Climate Change negotiations as we are witnessing in the Iran Nuclear negotiations taking place in Geneva.
We all know that the wrong use of nuclear weapons can have unbearable consequences – but the same can be said about a world with climate catastrophes that – according to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel – can significantly add to the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty and conflict as well as food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources and more severe natural disasters that “all place additional burdens on economies, society and institutions around the world”.
When the U.S. Defense along with global businesses, including insurance companies are taking the lead on climate change it should be a clear signal to all of us to act now. [stextbox id=”custom” float=”true” align=”right” width=”300″ bcolor=”e5e5e5″ bgcolor=”e5e5e5″ image=”null”] It is not only in the climate debate that companies are taking the lead, it is also in defining the Post2015 Development Goals.[/stextbox] Many ask why? – is it just a smart marketing trick? No. The businesses I work with are involved because they know that they can’t succeed in a society that fails – and on a shorter scale, they know that they need access to material for their products – and their supply-chains are threatened by the rapidly changing climate.
These companies are embedding sustainable thinking into their business operations and the full value chain from suppliers to customers. They want to be the ‘architects of a better world’ as the UN Global Compact Leaders meeting in September 2013 was called.
From companies there is a big push to work for a “Go” in Paris in 2015, where it is not only the Climate negotiations but also the Post2015 Development Goals that will be finalized.
But it is not enough to be among these ‘architects of a better world’ – businesses need to execute and show that it is possible to be sustainable by reporting on their achievements. We also need examples from the private sector to showcase the narrative of what this ‘better world’ could look like including in the advertising the companies do.
The leading companies are already reporting on their commitment and actions – and some are reporting on the bigger picture. Here the combination of the Post 2015 goals and the climate change goals could be a good framework for reporting. Further, companies should start to ensure that the advertising and lobbying budgets are aligned to show the consumers and negotiators how the better world will look like.
If the leading brands involve their supply-chain and show consumers how their products help bring us to a better world – we might all be enjoying Paris’s beautiful sights in 2015 instead of sitting in dark rooms negotiating.
Helle Bank Jørgensen, is Chief Executive Officer of B Accountability, and UN Special Advisor to the Global Compact in Canada. She will Speak at GLOBE 2014 in a session on Architects of a Better World: Corporate Responsible in a New Age of Transparency. Check here for more information