“Business can only thrive in stable and enabling environments,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “Climate adaptation offers a pathway to help communities that are already feeling the devastating impacts of climate change. At the same time, it creates a wealth of new opportunities for the private sector.”
Drawing on the results of a 2010 survey among companies engaged in Caring for Climate, the joint climate action platform of the UN Global Compact and UNEP, the study makes the business case for private sector adaptation to climate change in ways that build the resilience of vulnerable communities in developing countries. Already, businesses worldwide are beginning to see the risks and economic impacts of more frequent and intense storms, water scarcity, declining agricultural productivity and poor health.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: “We live in a world where extreme weather events on one day can move food and fuel prices the next, impacting vulnerable and poor communities and a company’s supply chain. We also live in a world where infrastructure established decades ago will become increasingly at risk to events such as storm surges and high winds, that in turn threaten the viability of the business-as-usual models of the past, and the
profits or losses of firms for the future.”
“There are multiple reasons why the world urgently needs a transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient Green Economy, including climate change and adapting to its impacts. This report underlines that climate-proofing is not just a responsibility of governments, but should be at the centre of more and more companies’ business models and forward-looking corporate strategies," he added.
The study suggests actions that companies and policymakers can pursue to catalyze and scale up private sector engagement. Confirming the notion that the climate threats many communities face are also business risks, 83 percent of companies surveyed responded that climate change impacts pose a risk to their products and service.
“Businesses are facing increasing challenges from the rise in extreme weather events— such as droughts, heat waves and floods,” said Manish Bapna, Managing Director, World Resources Institute. “In this changing environment, companies that move first to address the risks and develop innovative strategies to adapt to climate change are likely to be the winners and gain a competitive advantage moving forward.”
The study recommends, among others, that businesses integrate climate adaptation into core strategic planning and build a portfolio of climate-resilient goods and services. Addressing policy makers, the authors call for stronger policy and finance commitments to adaptation, financial and risk-reduction incentives to stimulate the market, and for new forms of public-private partnerships.
“Communities around the world are already dealing with the impacts of climate change,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America. “Since companies depend on community members as suppliers, customers and employees, and need to count on local services and infrastructure to be able to operate efficiently, the well-being of communities on the frontlines of climate change and the viability of companies are intricately intertwined.”
About the UN Global Compact
Launched in 2000, the United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies around the world to align their strategies and operations with ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to take action in support of broader UN goals. Through the development, implementation, and disclosure of responsible corporate policies and practices, business can help ensure that markets advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere. With more than 6,000 corporate signatories in over 135 countries, it is the world’s largest corporate responsibility initiative. www.unglobalcompact.org
About the UN Environment Programme
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), established in 1972, is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system. UNEP acts as a catalyst, advocate, educator and facilitator to promote the wise use and sustainable development of the global environment. To accomplish this, UNEP works with a wide range of partners, including United Nations entities, international organizations, national governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and civil society. www.unep.org
About the World Resources Institute
WRI is a global environmental think tank that goes beyond research to put ideas into action. WRI works with governments, companies, and civil society to build solutions to urgent environmental challenges. www.wri.org
Oxfam is an international confederation of fifteen organizations working together to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice. Together with individuals and local groups in more than 90 countries, Oxfam saves lives, helps people overcome poverty, and fights for social justice. www.oxfam.org