Arguably, everyone is a stakeholder of climate change. From soon-to-be-born babies to the most influential CEOs of this planet, and from the last uncontacted indigenous tribes of the Amazon to the bustling centre of Kigali in Rwanda, climate change - or its more positive counterpart sustainable transition - is everybody’s business.
Sustainability has been at the centre of debates for longer than we'd think. River conservation is a good example of how old resource management really is (regulations on river pollution and halieutic resources are among the oldest recorded international treaties and laws).
But who decides on what? Climate change touches upon all aspects of society because it affects the stage at which everything else happens. If we were to categorise these stakeholders of climate change,
The groups that influence climate change policy
Governmental bodies stand with the most levees at their command. With legally binding power and the strength to enforce these decisions, governments are expected to give priority to the greater good. With the dismantling of nothing short of avant-garde projects in the French ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, the promotion of industrial and destructive agricultural practices.
Historically, modern states have given their priority to the economic exploitation of nature - to the detriment of other key indicators of success such as health, durability or quality. The example of fossil fuel subsidies stands out as a failure of our recent governments to step away from their addiction to fossil sources of energy. What governments decide on doing with this influence and power is mostly up to electoral and social dynamics. The vocal critics of public collective action are not backed by historical evidence, given the prevalence of social movements in obtaining welfare and environmental victories.
Civil society, made up of non-governmental organisations, private citizens, informal groups, weigh in on the debate/decision-makers by making their voices heard and by swaying the public opinion in their favour. Through a motley multitude of actions and channels, these stakeholders have been able to reorient governments’ priorities, funds and agendas.
For example, it wasn’t until a massive push from environmental activists that nuclear testing in the Pacific was declared illegal, or that the international ivory trade became off-limit for all countries. Civil society holds formidable power and acts not only as of the moral conscience of our societies but also as a reservoir of innovation and solutions waiting to be tried, tested and made better.
Companies and the private sector have been the vehicles of creating economic value in society. The general influence of business has grown steadily since at least the XIVth century. This influence has grown in parallel with the rise of merchants and traders as the locus of power and away from noble families and the decline of military might as the sole key to society’s high ranks.
It is incumbent on these stakeholders to provide prosperity, opportunities and create wealth. As for governmental bodies, companies monitor very closely the reactions of their customers and are dependent on them to ensure their success. This has led to an interesting evolution. Impact marketing relies on the usage of values and political standpoints as a sale point for a product or a service.
Companies hold the majority of the world’s operational capacities, whether in the form of money or structures. Supply chains that unify humanity in one big lovely mess come from these stakeholders, and the largest companies have the potential to transform entire industries in one decision. Consequently, they are also the ones to bear a larger part of the responsibility of climate change and pollution. A recent audit found that14% of branded pollution - pollution that can be traced to a producer - come from the top 3 polluting brands: Coca-Cola, Pepsico and Danone.
What about the role of the individual against climate change?
Who is more responsible then, the consumer or the producer? When we finally solve this infinite riddle - if we ever do - it will be too late. What the world needs now is concerted action among all these stakeholders of climate change. After all, they do share the proverbial objective of saving the planet.
Not everyone comes to this issue/opportunity from the same perspective. From the get-go, there are inherent different standpoints between - and among - these stakeholders. It is not hard to see how a small-scale peasant from a rural area of India sees the allowance of water differently from Coca-Cola Corp. In turn, it is fair for a wheat farmer or a power plant to benefit from more water resources than a family because they are using it for necessary activities. But how does this influence the free flow of, say, rainbow trouts that are at the centre of a local native population’s culture and way of life?
Individuals are distinct from all the previous groups in the sense that they are the first indivisible unit that makes up all the subsequent ones. Each individual is also a voter, a professional, a colleague, a member of all these previous bodies and arenas. In the end, all social structures - from board game appreciation group to family to company to government - are made up of individuals, where made by individuals, and only exist because enough individuals believe in them. All in all, it falls on the shoulders of each citizen-individual-boss. Plan A works with all these individuals to empower them in the different circles they act in. Visit www.plana.earth to see how your company, NGO or yourself can make use of our platform for climate action. You got the power!