Sustainability Sensemaking: The Climate Justice Imperative

We’re pleased to share the final installment in our Sustainability Sensemaking video series: The Climate Justice Imperative”.

The dialogue surrounding the annual U.N. Climate Conference (COP27) raised many issues related to ensuring a “just” net-zero transition and supporting vulnerable communities in preparing for and adapting to climate change. The terms “climate justice” and “environmental justice” relate to an equitable distribution of the benefits and burdens of the climate crisis and fairness in how responsibilities are divided to finance and address solutions to global warming. The reality is that communities around the world that have contributed least to climate change are likely to feel the effects most significantly.  

The climate justice movement advocates for a human-centered approach to climate action that recognizes the interconnectedness of the climate crisis with global development challenges and social and economic justice issues. Just climate solutions balance: 

  • Protection from harm for vulnerable communities most at risk for health, safety and economic impacts of extreme weather, rising sea levels and other climate impacts. 
  • Access to resources – be they financial or practical – to help vulnerable communities better adapt to global warming and become more resilient to climate shocks. 
  • Structural solutions that address the systemic barriers vulnerable communities face that exacerbate climate and other global development challenges.   

To better understand the intersection of climate change and human rights, our Sustainability Taskforce spoke to the experts. “The Climate Justice Imperative” provides perspective on why it’s essential to design climate financing and solutions with equity and inclusion in mind.   

David Wei, Managing Director at BSR, believes that “developing country communities need to be engaged in climate action because that is where the impact is felt.” Victoria Mills, Managing Director at EDF + Business, agrees that “you can’t ignore the human costs of unmitigated climate change.” 

The private sector has a clear role to play in bringing the human toll of climate change into focus. Jonathan Adashek, Senior Vice President for Marketing and Communications at IBM, confirms that his company prioritizes helping “provide NGOs and third-party organizations resources and tools to help those most at risk communities.” 

Such strategies need to be a part of every company’s climate action plan says Mindy Lubber, CEO and President at Ceres. She further asserts that companies need to “bring in stakeholders from communities who have lived the problem” to help define it and then solve it. 

This point is amplified by Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook, Executive Vice President at the Bertelsmann Foundation, who wants to see local communities have a greater “ability to make choices that advance their societies for themselves.”

More Insights from Our Subject Matter Experts

Powell Tate’s report, Leading at the Intersections 2023, provides actionable insights on some of the biggest issues of the moment, what to be watching for in 2023, plus some of our best thinking from the past year.