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Harun Asad's picture
Sustainability/Impact Advisor & Author Sustainability/Impact Advisory

Freelance author at Environmental Leader and former corporate sustainability manager for Con Edison.

  • Member since 2021
  • 54 items added with 24,741 views
  • May 28, 2021
  • 519 views

The momentum continues to grow for businesses of all types and sizes to develop and disclose climate action plans and performance. Most recently, President Biden announced on May 20 an Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk, with wide-ranging implications for investors, companies and regulators.

However, it is important for businesses developing climate action plans to recognize that climate justice goes hand in hand with climate action.

According to The Climate Justice Playbook for Business recently created by B Lab, the COP26 Climate Champions Team, Provoc, and the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford, climate justice is the recognition that the effects of climate change have a disproportionately negative impact on the historically marginalised and underserved – primarily people of colour and low income communities around the world. Climate justice is a complex, intersectional issue that is woven deeply into economies, cultures, and the natural world. For this reason, businesses must approach the complex and intersectional opportunities and challenges of climate justice with a multi-dimensional and systems-thinking lens.

“Climate justice means making sure that solutions are addressing the challenge of lifting up communities on the margins, and certainly making sure that the solutions are not disconnected from their needs, so that we don’t cause more harm,” says Gretchen Grani, Regeneration and Sustainability Lead, Guayakí Sustainable Rainforest Products, Inc.

The Playbook suggests several roadmaps to consider to ensure climate action plans also address climate justice issues, including but not limited to:

For businesses pursuing climate justice initiatives, some key insights are:

  • It’s about learning and progress, not about checking boxes
  • The journey is not linear
  • Everybody can have an impact
  • Listening is critical 
  • Start close to home
  • Ask fundamental questions about who and when 
  • Perspective informs priorities
  • Only fundamental systems change can reverse longstanding inequities

The Playbook also highlights best practice examples from a range of companies that have already initiated climate justice programs. For instance, Patagonia directly funds and/or creates pivotal films that advance their commitment to climate and environmental justice. One recent documentary, District 15, tells the story of youth activists and their fight against oil and gas operations in the Wilmington community in LA’s District 15, which is disproportionately impacted by different sources of pollutants.

Seventh Generation, an eco-friendly personal care products company, allocates half of its philanthropic funding to leaders from Native American organisations that are identifying solutions to lead the way out of the climate emergency, including In 2020, NDN Collective, Thunder Valley Development Cooperative, Circle of Courage, Earth Guardians, and others.

Guayakí, an organic beverage company specialising in yerba mate products, works closely alongside Indigenous communities in Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil where the yerba mate used in Guayakí’s products is grown. These stewards of the Atlantic Forest and their families increasingly feel the pressure of surrounding deforestation. By collaborating with them to create sustainable markets for yerba mate, Guayakí helps ensure families living there can stay on their land, keeping the forest intact and earn revenue from keeping the forest intact.

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