How can organisations tackle the climate crisis?

Climate change, and the huge demand for leaders in this field, has never held a position of such prominence. Extreme weather events have become a new normal for the global population, with a 2020 report from the United Nations showing that climate-related disasters have leapt by 83 per cent in the last twenty years.[1]

With the world’s attention on the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, we must consider – how have organisations responded to the need for talent in the sector, and what more needs to be done in the private sector and beyond to ensure that the goal of Net Zero is reached?

Climate change is a cross-sectoral issue

The climate crisis is not simply an environmental issue. Evident in the last few years, the consequences of a changing climate affect everything from human rights and health, to the economy and immigration.

Increasingly, mission driven sectors and experts in different fields, are voicing the need to focus on climate and sustainability. From a range of sectors including sexual and reproductive health and rights, to humanitarian response, to impact investing, actors are coming together to apply their skills and experiences in this current small window of opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

It is not only the responsibility of mission driven organisations to address the climate emergency. Private sector companies and corporates must take bold action to make their practices more sustainable; this includes investing in greener technology, as well as more sustainable supply chains and practices.

This is a decisive decade, and there is a wealth of talent seeking to make an impact. However, the best candidates will not be attracted by green washing or simply high-level discussions. They seek to join action orientated organisations, that are moving toward tangible progress.

Diversity remains key to effective environmental action

It is undeniable that for real progress to be seen, organisations must be open minded about the different backgrounds and areas of expertise in relevant organisations and sectors. Now that the climate debate has been broadened to such an extent, it should break down the barriers put in place by the traditionally western and middle-class dominated discussions.

There is a commonly held understanding that the communities impacted most directly by climate change are socio-economically disadvantaged, and often those who rely on the land or sea for their livelihoods. There is recognition across sectors that, in bringing a diverse range of perspectives on board, they will achieve the greatest impact on the ground. The increasing focus on nature-based solutions as a critical element in addressing the climate crisis is a welcome shift and requires the input of the custodians of our most precious ecosystems.

COP26 – the time for decisive action

Despite a rocky start, COP26 is a defining moment to prove that tangible steps and actions are going to be made. Everyone must work together, from governments, to the private sector, to philanthropy, to civil society, to establish a tactical roadmap that details how best to invest money to find scalable solutions to the issues facing our planet.  Real change is never easy and ultimately, some of these policies will mean an end to some livelihoods – such as those dependent on fossil fuels, and the creation of new livelihoods – such as those being trained in green hydrogen.

In the wake of the pandemic, we have been given a unique opportunity to rethink the way the world works. The chance to leverage this new thinking around flexibility and freedoms should not be discarded – it should instead lead to positive change. At Perrett Laver, we are supporting our clients around the world to positively address these changes, by recruiting committed and driven leaders from diverse backgrounds to drive forward organisations’ sustainability and Net Zero agenda.

This is a moment for action and a time to make a real shift, in a truly decisive decade. It is also vitally important that in order for credible progress to be made, the process must be both inclusive and the profiles of the decision-makers diverse, as climate change and its devastating impact does not discriminate.

Natasha Zoltie – Senior Consultant (Global Non-Profits) & Lead, Climate, Sustainability and Conservation at Perrett Laver