How can businesses influence meaningful change at COP28?

In an interview with Reuters during COP26, John Kerry stressed the crucial role businesses play in combatting the climate crisis. He made it clear that expecting governments to shoulder the burden alone is neither realistic nor practical, asserting that businesses “have the ability to win this battle for us.” Yet, for years, COP conferences have faced criticism for their perceived exclusivity, often labelled as high-level “talking shops”.

It is within this context that businesses can transform from mere participants to influential catalysts for climate action, quietly reforming the way things are traditionally done at COP28 in Dubai this year

Here are some tactics that will allow businesses to get their voices heard, regardless of whether they have blue zone status or not!

1. Forge alliances with industry-specific associations:

Industry associations play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between businesses and policymakers. By collaborating with these associations, businesses can gain direct access to decision-makers and advocate for policies tailored to their sectors. This collaboration can be a force for transformation within industries, moving them toward a more sustainable and secure future.

2. Participate actively in policy dialogues:

Businesses should be active participants in policy dialogues and side events during COP28. These platforms provide a unique opportunity to engage directly with politicians and policymakers. Here, businesses can contribute by discussing practical policy proposals and sharing insights on how climate policies can simultaneously foster economic growth and sustainability.

3. Foster partnerships with NGOs:

Collaborating with NGOs and civil society groups enhances a business’s reach and credibility. These alliances can help businesses navigate the complex landscape of COP conferences and connect with politicians receptive to diverse voices. Through these partnerships, businesses can champion more inclusive and effective climate policies.

4. Exhibit your insights:

The competitive nature of COP conferences can make it difficult for businesses to access high-level discussions in the Blue Zone. However, businesses can leverage opportunities in the Green Zone or unofficial programs occurring outside the conference area. Engaging key stakeholders early, timing announcements strategically, and presenting data that supports policymakers in their negotiations can all lead to impactful involvement.

5. Showcase your solutions to the climate crisis:

This could be through a dedicated exhibition stand in the Green Zone or outside the official COP site. You should invite colleagues who can speak confidently about your business offering, tailored to different contexts. Do your research on key delegates, find out what their main challenges and priorities are, and prepare talking points. It’s important to create a lasting impression as this increases your chances of being heard during the conference.

As the world transitions from discussions to real action, businesses are positioned to take centre stage at COP28. Their participation not only bridges the gap between politics and real-world solutions but highlights important progress that is being made across different sectors to deliver a low-carbon future at scale.

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