‘The Environment Is Everybody’s Business, Especially For Those In Business’

Published 7 months ago
By Forbes Africa | Charu Chadha
Businesswoman giving presentation in board room
"What does climate risk really mean and how does it affect us?": Photo: Getty Images

We all live and we all die, what makes us different are the things we do and the impact of our actions on the world. When it comes to the human mindset, we only think in terms of human-dominated ecosystems. However, with the climate crisis now upon us, the environment is everybody’s business, especially for those in business.

For entrepreneurs and industrialists, the time has come to not just reflect but to put into meaningful action the values that drive work. It is time to think about impact not just on our species but the world in its entirety, to create entrepreneurship beyond the terminology of just buying and selling, and to truly understand that profit is an output, not a purpose.

Research suggests that companies that struggle to answer the purpose question, or that answer it only in terms of the hard metrics of profit, market share and shareholder returns are most likely to encounter lower employee engagement, higher turnover, an uninspiring work culture, and lack of respect for the environment and communities they operate in. This is irrespective of whether the company has prestige, market dominance or great potential for growth.

Advertisement

As per the Climate Risk Country Profiles developed by the World Bank Group, Nepal, where I live, and South Africa, both share climate vulnerabilities.

Nepal is experiencing changes in temperature and precipitation at a faster rate than the global average. From the loss of lives to the loss of livelihoods, natural hazards in different parts of the country put people and ecosystems in distress year after year.

What does climate risk really mean and how does it affect us? Climate risk is commonly defined as extreme changes in weather, floods, disasters, rising sea levels, erosion, biodiversity loss etc. Why does it matter is simple–because people suffer due to these risks, it changes how we live, it changes our health, our livelihoods, our environment.

And where do businesses factor in? The opening statement of a PricewaterhouseCoopers article reads: “The race for net zero has captured the imagination of countries and companies alike. And not a moment too soon: the latest report from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds that greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) must peak no later than 2025 to avoid the most dangerous and irreversible effects of climate change.”

Advertisement

It goes on to state that companies are not paying enough attention to their decarbonization commitments. Citing what businesses can lose, the report gives the example of how extreme weather events can cost a business conglomerate several hundred million dollars as soon as 2030 due to supply chain disruption. The examples are many and eye-opening. Businesses are forced to give due consideration to reports and articles such as these not just for the financial implications on their operations but also because governments around the world are aligned to the Net Zero Commitment including the top polluters– the US, China, EU and India.

The private sector does have a crucial role in fighting climate change. From reducing the carbon footprint of their product to cultivating climateconscious practices at work, businesses need to tackle their climate and social impact.

Consumers must commit to eating, traveling, living and shopping more mindfully.

Governments must pledge to tangible actions that go beyond policy discourse and debates. Even as the world feels increasingly complex and unpredictable, meaningful action is needed to maintain a natural balance in how we use our resources and treat the world we inhabit.

Advertisement

Climate change then is not just an ecological, environmental, social or economic issue, it is really about our personal ethics and the choices we make from moment to moment.

We do not have another planet to move to, what then do we choose for our children and the generations to come?

The writer-photographer from Nepal who keeps the values of freedom and compassion at the core of her work

Advertisement