Editor’s Note: The 2008 Brookings Blum Roundtable recently convened representatives to focus on how the poor of the world will cope with climate change. With a few notable exceptions, the climate adaptation challenge, and the links between climate change, economic growth, human rights, and poverty alleviation, has not been high on the corporate agenda. Jane Nelson, an expert in corporate social responsibility, recommends the corporate community take action to address climate change adaptation in the developing world. View the related book Climate Change and Global Poverty: A Billion Lives in the Balance?
With a few notable exceptions, the climate adaptation challenge, and the links between climate change, economic growth, human rights, and poverty alleviation, has not been high on the corporate agenda. As climate change advances, the environmental risks it poses will begin to affect the quality of governance, political stability, economic diversification, and the overall well-being of the economy. Unless the corporate community takes action to address climate change adaptation in the developing world, the adverse impacts of climate change are likely to impact and destabilize businesses, markets, and economies all across the world. Prompt and timely action in areas with a high potential for leadership and mobilization in the business arena may greatly facilitate adaptation efforts in the developing world. Businesses may be able to do this in a number of ways. Businesses should harness core corporate competencies and individual value chains to increase climate change resilience in developing country enterprises and communities. Increasing investment in public-private and hybrid financing mechanisms and partnering strategically with civil society actors will help build a network of support for adaptation. Additionally, creating industry-wide sector initiatives to create and maintain competitive and environmentally sound practices have the potential to significantly curb emissions while continuing to promote growth. Finally, the corporate community must continue to engage itself in public dialogue and advocacy as their participation bolsters international efforts.