On Thursday 17th December, Anthem hosted its COP26 Insights Lunch: Mainstreaming Sustainability. Anthem Senior Account Director and corporate sustainability communications specialist Camille Middleditch shares her thoughts.
When you think more than a little about climate change, the scale of the problem is overwhelming.
So, when a corporate affairs and marketing audience sat down to hear about the role we can play in solving the climate crisis, it was a surprise to experience such optimistic dispositions from CEO of Toitū Envirocare, Becky Lloyd and veteran sustainability, business, economics, and innovation journalist Rod Oram (who has recently returned from reporting on COP26 as a commentator for Newsroom).
There is no doubt that there is huge cause for concern but as was shared by Rod and Becky, we must be resolute in our belief that we can make changes that will limit the earth’s temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
When Rod went to COP26, there was not the usual small talk experienced when overseas and saying he was from New Zealand. No one was interested in chatting about the Lord of the Rings or the haka. Those who attended were there with an agenda – world leaders, policy makers, negotiators, and business leaders steadfastly committed to how they were going to solve the climate crisis, together.
We need to work together. We need to share knowledge. We need to not be afraid to share the warts and all version of the current state of affairs in our organisations, in order to move forward.
Government will do what it can, but policy change doesn’t come quickly and regardless of who is in power, no centre left or right government will alone be able to commit to policy that will enable the scale of change that is needed. And if they did, they wouldn’t win an election.
The business community has an opportunity to effect change.
Unilever is a prime example of driving change and leading in global procurement trends to work with others for more sustainable outcomes. The company has committed to a net zero value chain by 2039 inviting suppliers to adopt carbon reduction targets to cut their emissions and are prioritising partnerships with new suppliers who already have science-based emissions targets in place.
We can all push for more sustainable supply chains. We can think beyond recycling and instead design products with circularity. We can set a reduction pathway. We can understand our stakeholders’ material issues and report on our material issues without being told that we must. We can start to understand the sources of our emissions. We can partner with competitors to achieve sustainable outcomes.
We can commit to doing more and start with small changes.
The consequences of not changing have been laid bare. But focussing on a future we don’t want to see is not going to yield results. We need to stay optimistic to propel ourselves into changing behaviours and forming innovative solutions together.
At Anthem we help our clients find their most powerful voice, sharing their successes in finding new ways to do things and unlocking new partnerships to reach more sustainable outcomes.
Because after all, we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.