How can a company’s climate change commitments be better informed by those most impacted?

This live written panel discussion explores how business can ensure people are at the centre of climate action. This event was part of an ongoing programme of conversation and collaboration in the lead up to COP27 on business and climate justice.

LIVE Panel

Thursday 12 May 10am-11am ET/ 3pm-4pm BST

Background

This online discussion explores how a company’s policies and products can be better informed by the needs of those impacted by climate change, and how employees can help shape a company’s approach to climate justice. It will also explore questions of transparency and accountability for action. Who holds the company to account? How are commitments and actions made transparent to customers / clients / suppliers?

Panel

  • Damilola Ahmed, Senior Marketing Officer, Practical Action

  • Caroline Downey, Executive Director, Women Working WorldWide

  • Liz Foggitt, Communications and Events Manager, Bonsucro

  • Shreya KC, Youth Climate Change Champion for UNICEF South Asia & an advisor for Nepalese Youth for Climate Action

  • David Taylor, Policy Manager, Fairtrade Foundation

  • Japheth Muli, Programme Manager, East Africa, Hand in Hand

  • Jevanic Henry, UN Foundation Next Generation Fellow, based in St Lucia

  • Lalit Guglani, Manager, Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centennial College

  • Gladys Habu, Climate Advocate and Unicef Ambassador, Solomon Islands

  • Gabriel Kpaka, UNFCCC National Focal Point, Sierra Leone and DG Sierra Leone Meteorological Agency

  • Manav Khanna, Phd Candidate on circular economy and World Bank and IMF youth climate ambassador

  • Moderator: Alice Allan, Collaboration Director, Business Fights Poverty

Questions

  1. What examples are you aware of where a company, or other entity, has sought the views of communities impacted by climate change to inform its operations, practice or product development?

  2. What are the biggest challenges for business, in working with impacted communities and how can transparency and accountability to impacted groups be improved?

  3. What role can technology, including social technology, play to ensure that impacted communities can contribute and innovate towards the just transition?

Format

This is a text-based discussion. There will be no video or audio. Please post your comments below. After the live session, this discussion will remain open, so please do continue to share your insights.

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Hi everyone, I hope you are all well. Just trying to see if my account works :grinning: Looking forward to discussing with you all later today.

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Hello all! I am Shreya from Nepal. Excited to be here and looking forward to an insightful discussion later today. :slight_smile:

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Hello Everyone, this is Japheth Muli - Hand in Hand Eastern Africa

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Hi Everyone, Alice Allan from Business Fights poverty here, I’m very much looking forward to starting this live session in the next 30 mins!

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Thanks Alice, just to be sure; the event will fully be text based?

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Hi everyone, Liz Foggitt here. I’m the Communications and Events Manager at Bonsucro - the leading global sustainability platform and standard for sugarcane.

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OK here we go first question everyone… What examples are you aware of where a company, or other entity, has sought the views of communities impacted by climate change to inform its operations, practice or product development?

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Hi there, my name is Damilola Ahmed and I work at Practical Action

In the Nordic countries, alcohol is sourced by government-run monopolies. After numerous discussions with stakeholders and sugarcane producing communities, the monopolies found that rum supply chains pose risks of poor working conditions, water pollution, and heat stress. Sugarcane cutters are at risk of heat stress and subsequently developing Chronic Kidney Disease of non-traditional Causes (CKDnT) if they do not have adequate access to water, shade, and the option to rest during their shift.

To address this, the monopolies collaborated with Bonsucro and regional partners to deliver training to producer organisations about the impact of climate change and worker health. The monopolies also signed a joint statement saying that they will prioritise products with sustainability credentials. Bonsucro certification was then added as a requirement on the Swedish monopoly tender last year – because they recognised that our assurance system addresses heat stress. Bonsucro certification will also be included in the Norwegian tender this year. As a result, 25% of Bonsucro’s new member applicants last year were from rum-producing organisations.

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At Hand in Hand Eastern Africa while seeking to do a second intervention for an Eco-Farming project at Njabini in Nyandarua County in Kenya we sought the views of the community by conducting a value chains analysis to understand what value chains serves the community best.

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The large cosmetics company Natura’s 2020 Commitment to Life strategy focuses on net zero by 2030 for all four companies under the Natura & Co umbrella. This includes support for the Amazon, a living wage for all its associates by 2023, and a strong emphasis on human rights.

Natura state ‘With more than 20 years of presence in the Amazon, we have contributed to conserving two million hectares of standing forest, alongside partners and through relationships with 34 agro-extractivist communities in the region, covering more than 7,000 families’.

One specific project of theirs that caught my eye was this - Project Ybá initiative which aims to balance the commercial growth of local communities with environmental protection in Beru Branco, Pará – deep in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. See more here: Natura joins Dow’s Project Ybá to support the Amazon rainforest

The other company often known for their work with impacted communities - is the outdoor clothing company Patagonia. It is a self-proclaimed ‘activist company’ which supports indigenous groups (e.g. the Gwich’in peoples’ resistance to oil drilling in the Arctic).

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Coming from one of the most vulnerable island nations on the front line of climate change, I would hope that by this day and age we should already be seeing more companies with proposals that seriously include the views of communities largely affected, to inform their approach to doing business. However, I have not seen this much in the Solomon Islands. If any company did, it is very likely to only be a few and would mostly be a result of other external factors that may present as a threat to their operation, such as land disputes. This however would be a discussion around land ownership rights between tribes involved rather than that of land as a potential threat from loss and damage by climate change and how the business would ensure that their development will help minimise such loss.

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I wish I could say a long list of companies who are concerned about their negative impact on the climate and society. How impressive that would have been!
Unfortunately, I am still not aware of a single company that prioritizes the views of vulnerable communities to plan its operations or product design. I am keen to learn about them through today’s discussion.
Most of the biggest companies such as Google, Amazon, and Nestle are direly failing to meet their climate targets despite their pledges. A study done by the New Climate Institute report says they routinely exaggerate or misreport their progress.
With people being aware and searching for sustainable products, businesses are under pressure to reduce their environmental impact and make the product in a fair way. Due to this, greenwashing has come to rise, a false claim that companies are climate and nature conscious when that is not the case. Just 100 investors including fossil fuel companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions. Because businesses are responsible for a large portion of global greenhouse-gas emissions, they have enormous potential to be leaders in tackling the climate crisis.
It is clear that environmental and climate impact will directly affect communities, the natural world, and businesses.

Supporting communities most impacted by climate change and prioritizing decarbonization is a win-win for companies to build their reputation and reduce their own economic loss.

Coca-Cola, for example, has partnered with the World Wildlife Fund to safeguard global water resources and improve internal water management, which is likely to benefit both the firm and local people while also improving the company’s global image.

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We also sought to know the constraints the community especially women face in production and marketing of their produce as well as the gender based constrains on decision making regarding production, marketing and on utilization of income. According to our findings, it is only 17% of the target women who had the space to make independent decisions on income earned from the prioritised value chains. In most cases men sell the milk produced in the morning which is more; and the women sell the milked produced/milked in the evening which is less than the one produced in the morning. The findings have informed our design of the project; focusing on at least 80% women in the project and providing capacity building and sensitization on gender equity among other gender considerations in the design. Increasingly, Hand in Hand Eastern Africa has embraced value chains analysis and needs assessment in order to support our beneficiary entrepreneurs in the best way possible

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Hi Alice and everybody, I am Lalit Guglani from Toronto.

“Let me share the example of Bruce Power a large private sector corporation extensively working with indigenous communities in their geographic area, including joint coastal environmental monitoring with the Saugeen Ojibway Nation to monitor impacts of thermal effluents on fish and joint development of an environmental monitoring plan with the Georgian Bay Métis Nation of Ontario, and offering large community investment and environmental sustainability funds to local communities for conservation, education, research, restoration, and remediation.

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Bonsucro is talking to Natura recently. I’ve been really interested in hearing what they do and finding out more about their sustainability initiatives.

Undertaking analysis of supply chains and asking questions is a great place to start. Information the key to making change!

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thanks Shreya - agree its finding ways for business to see this is win win. I think those dependent on natural resources are getting it a little faster…

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Very interesting, I am interested to know the model that you use and whether that can be something we could adapt in rural Solomon Islands.