We’re all aiming to put things into perspective given the shakeup of the climate change policy landscape. It’s time for bold leadership, and to be the change we want to see. Do we really think that other people are going to clean this mess up? We all need to pick up the shovel, and when we do, real change will take place. Actions drive change.
Imagine what would happen if scores of companies, government officials and university leaders dramatically raised the bar on their own climate leadership. It’s really not that difficult to create a marketplace and a policy landscape that changes the landscape considerably.
Here are some ideas, that if you added up across numerous organizations, would become game changers:
Little Steps Along the Way
- Big wins can also come from little projects. Don’t lose the forest from the trees. Identify tangible smaller projects that can demonstrate success and build confidence in climate preparedness efforts and the value they can play for your organizations.
- Find champions. You’ll be surprised to learn what forces might get behind your initiatives. Step outside your comfort zone and examine whose interests intersect with your own. Seek guidance. Find common ground. Propose ideas. Activate champions who can reinforce your efforts and/or introduce them to new stakeholders.
- Activate a culture of invested stakeholders. Identify activities and issues that will galvanize a portion of your workforce. Whether establishing green initiatives teams looking inward at your organization, or conceiving and driving volunteer efforts to support your surrounding community, the more engaged your colleagues and stakeholders are in these efforts, the more confident, supportive and adventurous they will be in your efforts going forward.
- Build stakeholder, public and political will for solutions. More than half of Americans and the overwhelming majority of the world support taking action to meaningfully address climate change. But there is a small minority that vehemently opposes climate action. The devil is in the details. If we figure out how to help those whom would be harmed by climate smart policies and activate those whom are indifferent, perhaps we can turn them into allies in this effort.
- There’s No Good vs. Evil. Making people or organizations out to be bad guys either turns them into enemies or makes them indifferent. Neither is productive. Let’s sit down and listen to each other’s concerns and find common ground to move forward.
- Establish and align goals to leverage co-benefits and stakeholder priorities by developing sound metrics and achieving benchmarks for economic development, public health and other priority quality of life considerations.
Big Steps Shake Things Up
- Establish bolder reduction goals with long-term and escalating trajectories. There are numerous bottom-line beneficial opportunities awaiting organizations that drive sensible greenhouse gas, energy efficiency, renewable energy, water and materials management strategies. The business case needs to extend beyond short-term gains. Make bolder goals with transparent and aggressive glide paths so that stakeholders with long-term perspectives and decision-making process can get behind your efforts and adapt accordingly.
- Mandate and provide climate preparedness training for key decision makers (not just environmental professionals) in your organization. Civil engineers, facilities managers, architects, supply chain and procurement professionals, city managers, and infrastructure design and protection professionals are just a few of the key professions that can play a significant role in advancing GHG reduction, adaptation and resilience measures, thus ensuring that public and private sector organizations are well positioned to meaningfully contribute to efforts to slow down the impacts of climate change prepare for its implications.
- Break down internal silos and establish collaborative leadership structures. A vast range of professionals and decision-makers intersect with aspects of climate change. This is particularly the case in large organizations. Convene the key professionals, functions and departments and establish an ongoing collaborative leadership structure to assess vulnerabilities and opportunities and chart a collective strategic approach to responding to those considerations.
- Consider your organization’s stance on policies and public affairs that intersect with climate change. How is your organization positioning itself in the context of climate change? How high is climate policy on your organization’s list of issues it addresses in the context of policy and public engagement? Be bold, make it a top tier priority and keep it there consistently. Sustained advocacy and public engagement is a critical tool toward affecting public and political will.
- Think and act beyond your organization’s boundaries by forming collaborations with stakeholders and peer organizations. The implications of climate change have no regard for organizational boundaries or jurisdictions. Substantial opportunities to realize and achieve solutions await those who aggregate their interests and share resources. Additionally, climate change and extreme events don’t respect organizational boundaries and jurisdictions.
Remember, a chorus of these activities completely changes the landscape within your organization and outside its “fences.” Rome wasn’t built in a day and it wasn’t built by one person.
These are just a few of the tangible action items we should all be thinking about. The next few chapters of this blog series will hone in on opportunities for specific sectors and types of organizations.