Decisions made by groups of similarly minded people carry a risk of no one spotting the wider consequences.
As world leaders, businesses, activists and grassroots campaigners descend on Glasgow for COP26, it’s vital to ensure all voices are included in the conversations. Why? Because while the climate crisis impacts everyone, it’s affecting people disproportionately across the world.
To put it into perspective, if the poorest 50% of people on earth were to disappear, it’d only reduce global emissions by about 10% (Source: Oxfam). So how can we authentically talk about climate justice, discuss solutions and identify the imminent impacts if we’re not including the voices and leadership from those on the front line?
Just take the Futuros Indigenas (Indigenous Futures) collective from Mexico. They spent months crowdfunding to be able to attend COP26 so they could voice the struggles of their communities and share their vision for protecting the planet. Despite these communities protecting life on earth for thousands of years, they were not given accreditation for the whole conference and have found it difficult to navigate the bureaucracy and share their stories with the world.
Moreover, we’ve heard stories emerging from the conference of little, to no other languages other than English being used in signage, workshops and events, with limited translation facilities. How are we to learn from communities at the front line of climate change if they cannot participate?
This isn’t a one-off either, many of the most vulnerable communities have been left out of the conversations, particularly those in the global south. While these communities have contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions, they are disproportionately affected by global temperature rises and extreme weather. Yet, they play a huge role in protecting our planet. In fact, despite accounting for only 6% of the global population, indigenous peoples nurture and protect over 80% of global biodiversity.
Similarly, ‘She Changes Climate’ is calling for more women to be included in climate conversations. When they kicked off their campaign in November 2020, there were just 15% of women that could be identified on the UK COP26 Leadership Team. Their ethos is founded in science which shows that diverse boards and leadership teams are better at being leaders, better at governance and more successful in the work they do.
Climate change is a huge and existential threat, but everyone plays a fundamental role in our fight against it. In gaining perspective on an issue through another person’s lens, it gives us the opportunity to see the whole picture, not just one part of it.
Let’s think about a tree. What is it?
A source of fuel?
The material for building a wall?
A source of food?
An income, once processed and sold?
Vital wildlife habitat?
The reason the soil doesn’t erode?
A sacred symbol of heritage?
A living spirit?
A meeting place?
A marker of a grave?
A sanctuary from danger?
How can we possibly understand the complexity of everything that tree is and can be, if we never take a moment to look at it from different perspectives? And if we can’t understand all the roles it plays, how can we possibly make an informed choice of what should happen to it? So, how then can we make a judgement on the solutions to save our planet if we don’t invite all voices to the table?
Brands and businesses have a huge role to play in helping ensure that all these voices are heard. Use your platform to amplify these underrepresented perspectives within your communications and campaigns. Help by telling their stories, highlighting their struggles and sharing their vision with your audience.
Only then, when we have all voices at the table will we be able to understand the whole picture and communicate a greener, fairer world.