Amidst the environmental emergency, sustainability education emerges as a pivotal tool, equipping businesses, governments, and individuals with the knowledge to enact impactful mitigation efforts and foster collective climate action.
With this in mind, we need all actors of society to join forces and be on the same page to further the climate agenda. This is a whole-of-society approach, and it is very much needed if we are going to be able to tackle climate change with the limited time we have left. Not only will this approach help us to tackle the climate crisis, but it will also further connect us as a society. Keep reading as we dive into the whole-of-society approach and how it can fuel genuine climate action.
What is a whole-of-society approach?
A whole-of-society approach involves bringing together all organisations, institutions, and authorities to mitigate the climate crisis and protect the environment. For instance, the Paris Agreement’s success hinges on all countries’ ability to transform their economies and engage their societies in adapting to and mitigating climate change.
In other to make this happen, we need a whole-of-society approach that mainstreams climate considerations into all relevant decisions across government from the local to national level. This means engaging and making sure that all stakeholders are represented and participating.
In addition, mainstreaming climate into new industries and protecting crucial areas so that no one is left behind. Governments should always be looking to ensure that no one is left behind, particularly populations that are often excluded from climate strategies and policies.
These populations often include youths, women, and indigenous groups, as well as people in remote areas, farmers, and many others. Therefore, it is vital to elevate the voices of these groups of individuals for a whole-of-society approach. It is also important to ensure the engagement of the private sector as it will play a crucial role in fighting the environmental crisis.
Private businesses face an array of challenges as they adapt their products and activities to new climate realities, support governments in their climate actions, and create low-carbon solutions.
For example, climate risk analyses, greenhouse gas emissions data, and individual climate policy expectations. While the importance of local government in the sustainability space is growing, trying to coordinate actions between national and local levels remains a challenge. Put simply, a whole-of-society approach involves all actors to ensure positive change. We need a whole-society approach to protecting nature.
Challenges with a whole-of-society approach to climate action
The initial thing to take into account about a whole-of-society approach is that it places the burden of thinking, planning, and taking action on every conscious citizen of the country. This is an empowering and inspiring notion that allows us all to become active players in the fight against climate change.
The primary challenge to a whole-of-society approach is engaging all actors to take climate action. When it comes to inspiring businesses to address climate change, it can be difficult if they do not have a good understanding of the current environmental issues we are facing.
In other words, if they don’t have this understanding, there is a lack of drive to act and comprehension of why sustainability is important. This is why education is so important here and we have created courses designed to help businesses and organisations introduce sustainability practices.
While businesses have a big role to play here, they cannot be the only players in mitigating the climate crisis. Societies, too need to make decisions at every level and every location. This includes homeowners, investors, governments, and businesses. They need to decide what to protect, when to plan for recovery, and what assets to not protect in the face of extreme weather events and a changing climate.
A truly collaborative approach from all members of society is essential. The most competitive cities and districts will find ways for many sources of capital to combine forces, region by region, toward positive change. This will result in measurably better outcomes for entire communities. Not to mention, this is how we build resilience and adapt to the environmental emergency.
Business and industry are largely responsible for the climate crisis. The Guardian previously shared research from the Climate Accountability Institute, which discovered just 20 fossil fuel companies were responsible for a third of the world’s carbon emissions. Additionally, a report by Carbon Majors uncovered just 100 companies were responsible for 71 percent of industrial greenhouse gas emissions since 1988.
However, even with this in mind, we cannot solely depend on businesses to fight climate change. We need political leaders to implement policy changes to bring about a greener future. Climate action plans are required, legislative changes, reporting frameworks, and more will help society to prioritise sustainability and create meaningful climate action.
Recognising that sustainability is everyone’s responsibility ensures that every citizen strives for a sustainable lifestyle, vital for meeting our ambitious global climate goals and fostering inclusive engagement without overburdening individuals. We will have a difficult time meeting our ambitious global climate goals if we do not have all actors of society contributing. If we start to single out specific members of society, we risk losing engagement or placing too much burden or pressure on these people.
A whole-of-society approach is key to effective climate action and is at the heart of adaptation. This approach will enable us to not only reach global climate goals to protect the planet but to build resilience, promote risk-informed decision-making and investment and utilise the power of collaboration. A whole society-based approach would see us improve risk management of emergencies and mobilise wider society around transformative climate action.
The environmental crisis is an enormous challenge and given the size of the problem, we all must come together. We are also running out of time and are not where we are supposed to be concerning our goals. Therefore, the more members that prioritise sustainability, the more likely we are to leave behind a truly better world for future generations of entrepreneurs, innovators, citizens, and political leaders to thrive. Start your business sustainability journey today with one of our comprehensive, practical courses.