How can we put diversity and inclusion at the heart of climate action to spread the benefits and burdens fairly?

In this live written panel discussion we explored how can we put diversity and inclusion at the heart of climate action to spread the benefits and burdens fairly. This event is part of an ongoing programme of conversation and collaboration in the lead up to COP27 on business and climate justice.

LIVE Panel

Thursday 5 May, 10am-11am EST/ 3pm-4pm BST

This online discussion explored how a business takes account of the vulnerabilities of different people to climate change. Is there diversity and inclusion in the spaces where climate-related decisions are made? Are commitments to D&I linked to commitments on climate? Is there a focus on climate action to protect the most vulnerable people and communities from climate impacts and climate policies? How does fairness inform the company’s climate action? Are the benefits of climate action accessible to all (e.g. clean air, green jobs)?



  • Dylan Siegler, Vice President and Senior Analyst, Sustainability, GreenBiz

  • Ruchira Joshi, Country Director UK, IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative

  • Lizzy Whitehead, Head of Advocacy, Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance, MercyCorps

  • Lydia Baker, Policy Fellow, Green Grants UK

  • Kitrhona Cerri, Executive Director, The TASC Platform

  • Joanna Romero, Operations Officer, Gender and Climate, IFC

  • Leonora Dowley, Head of Partnerships, The Learning Planet

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


  1. Which companies or other entities are starting to make the links between climate change and DE&I?

  2. What are the challenges of identifying people’s different vulnerabilities to climate change across the value chain and how can business ensure that the burdens and benefits of climate change are more fairly shared?

  3. What role can technology, including social technology, play to ensure that those least represented due to gender, race, age or disability, play an active role in their organisation’s climate change ambitions?


This is a text-based discussion. The discussion will remain open, so please do continue to share your insights.

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Looking forward to sharing ideas and hearing your views on Thursday. I’m Lizzy Whitehead ( Lizzy Whitehead | LinkedIn working on climate adaptation advocacy at Mercy Corps - mainly through this brilliant resilience programme -


Hi - I’m Ruchira Joshi, Executive Director of IDH UK, working to advance payment of living wages, living incomes and better land use in agri-commodity supply chains. I believe a diverse and inclusive workforce helps us better understand and work with the diverse communities part of these supply chains. Look forward to hearing your views.


Hi everyone, looking forward to discussing these questions with all of you! I’m Leonora Dowley, working on learning to take care of ourselves, others and the planet at #LearningPlanet.


Thanks Lizzy, Ruchira and Leonora, we and our other fellow panellists will be going live in just under 30 mins, very much looking forward to this one! Alice

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Hello all! Happy to be here. I’m Dylan Siegler, VP and Senior Analyst, Sustainability, at GreenBiz Group here in the U.S. I led climate justice strategy at Verizon until the end of 2021, excited to share what I learned!


Hi, I’m Lydia, the Philanthropic Partnerships Coordinator at Global Greengrants Fund UK. Global Greengrants Fund supports frontline communities and grassroots solutions that promote environmental and climate justice and build resilience to the climate crisis through an activist-led participatory grantmaking model.


Ok welcome everyone - lets get started! Our first question today is this…*Which companies or other entities are starting to make the links between climate change and DE&I?


Verizon – following soft launches from Starbucks and Microsoft – was one of the first large companies to use the term “climate justice” in the U.S. context to describe the idea that climate impacts are felt differently across communities with varying access to resources, and the work to ensure that no one shoulders an unequal burden. Clearly (in the U.S. as elsewhere) resource inequality is very much linked to race and ethnicity, so much of the work to create better equity in climate change or any other topic is also work to overcome the impacts of systemic racism. Like environmental justice more broadly, climate justice as an issue in the U.S. has been surfaced and led by Black and brown Americans. As a result, solving for climate change and any attempt at improving DE&I inside business need to be linked.


Rather than naming a specific company, I’d like to focus on deforestation risk commodities such as beef, palm, soy, cocoa etc. IDH’s work convening the Smallholder Support working group part of the UK government’s FACT Dialogue showed that indigenous groups and the topic of land rights have long been a vocal and active presence in discussions on deforestation in Brazil. In fact the FACT roadmap specifically calls for financial support to increase productivity in a sustainable way, reduce vulnerability and increase resilience to climate change, market shocks and other major risks to livelihoods.


This call from governments is further strengthened by business commitments such as The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Forest Positive Coalition of Action, and practical tools such as IDH’s SourceUp. This is a platform connecting agri-commodity companies with more than 20 multi-stakeholder initiatives in jurisdictions that are committed to sustainable production and inclusive governance of sensitive forest areas.


Some thoughts from me… I think that in the US- the Black Lives Matter movement has prompted a lot of soul searching about DE&I and some of this is translating into racial justice programmes by companies - as seen for example at Apple - this includes consideration of race and climate change. Afterall the environmental justice movement was also born in the US in the 80’s in response to the disproportionate impacts of pollution on black communities in Nth Carolina. I think in Europe, and to some degree at COP 26 it was clear that there is increasing interest from business on the links between gender equality and climate change - business have realised women are often the most invisible and exploited in their supply chains and have been working to change this. Climate change threatens the progress made. L’Oreal (argan oil), Primark (cotton) are running interesting projects that seek to empower women and build climate resilience in their value chains. And many of the big development banks have started issuing guidance on how to promote win win opportunities that benefit women and climate.


We’re not a business but we (Mercy Corps) are a humanitarian organisation working in over 40 countries, most of which are fragile. We seek to build resilience in all of our programming and it is critical that we understand the differentiated needs of the people we work for and target resources at those most in need. We attempt to understand the unique climate challenges posed to women and girls especially in conflict affected areas. Through a virtual photo exhibition, we are telling the stories of women experiencing the climate and conflict interplay in some of the most fragile contexts, while highlighting the imperative of their inclusion and influence in decision-making surrounding conflict prevention and climate adaptation strategies. Visit our virtual photo exhibition to find out more.


The real solutions to climate change will come from those most impacted by the climate crisis: communities resisting untenable fossil fuel development, traditional farmers who practice soil conservation, Indigenous Peoples who defend their forests, women, young people, and resilient communities with diverse economies and networks.

These vulnerable groups at the forefront of climate change have largely been overlooked by international philanthropy. Yet they have shown the ability to both mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change by focusing on sustainable agriculture, agroecology, community-owned renewables, resistance to fossil fuel extractive, and equitable, inclusive and sustainable land rights and management.

Grassroots solutions have significant potential to reduce carbon emissions, foster economic empowerment, advance public health, and protect and restore global biodiversity. They are also climate justice solutions, centring those who are most impacted by the climate crisis by have contributed least to carbon emissions.

Global Greengrants Fund is one of the world’s leading supporters of grassroots climate and environmental justice movements. Our mission is to mobilise resources for communities to protect our shared planet and work toward a more equitable world.

We believe solutions to environmental harm and social injustice should come from the people most impacted. Since 1993, we have developed an activist-led grantmaking model that takes its cue from local leaders, whose knowledge and experience allows us to reach groups inaccessible to other grantmakers.

This network of 200 advisors in 25 Advisory Boards plays a crucial role in identifying and supporting movements across Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Americas which are working to address the climate crisis. With our advisors’ support, Greengrants directs flexible small grants – on average, $5,000 per grant – to these local initiatives, aiming to catalyse community action while minimising dependency on external support. To date, we have supported over 16,000 locally-led environmental initiatives in this way.

The generosity of our donors makes it possible for Global Greengrants to get resources directly to local people working to protect our shared planet and promote environmental justice. All of the foundations, corporations, and individuals that support our work share a common goal: to mobilise much-needed support to frontline communities who are often overlooked by traditional philanthropy, but who have the solutions to make a lasting impact on the health of our planet and people’s rights. Our donors give to and via Global Greengrants Fund UK because they understand the need to support frontline communities and movements, but have no easy way to identify the urgent and most relevant work, or to make small grants directly to often unregistered, informal associations. With our unique model, we are able to identify and channel appropriate financial and capacity support to grassroots actors, carry out the required due diligence and absorb any risks, monitor their work and connect them to wider networks and movements in line with our vision of supporting grassroots environmental movements.


Hello everyone! I’m Kitrhona Cerri, Executive Director of the TASC Platform at the Graduate Institute in Geneva. We bring together governments, business, civil society and international organizations to collectively tackle large societal transformations - starting with the future of work. Delighted to be here!


At #LearningPlanet we believe it’s very important to bring the voice of young people into all discussions, so we crowdsourced answers from our Youth Fellows to answer these questions. They say:

There aren’t many companies that explicitly make links between these two topics. B Corp measures social and environmental impact - this is one way in which links are starting to be made. Large corporations such as Unilever, Danone, Standard Chartered etc. are using their CSR strategies to implement policies that indirectly make such links.

Multiple interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary firms act to make connections between concepts or thoughts often segmented in different domains. Consultancy groups also act to bring partners together to find overarching links. Lastly, communities which bring together different stakeholders are doing this - but they are often not businesses.


That’s a great response Dylan, and in the 1619 podcast which you might have listened to, there was an excellent bit on how the US civil rights movement came out of the abolitionist and anti-slavery movement.


We have signed up to the Principles for Locally Lead Adaptation - shifting to a new model where local actors have greater power and resources to build resilience to climate change.


Sounds great! Do you have companies approaching you asking about grassroots organisations they might partner with? And or that want to have conversations about carbon offsetting programmes and partners?

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@leonora.dowley B Lab Global Site is certainly growing in the UK - do you think the wider world are starting to understand the purpose of the standards/networks? What’s your experience of it been like?

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