Now live: The Business Guide to Advancing Climate Justice, co-published by Forum for the Future and B Lab U.S. and Canada. This guide is designed for businesses that are working to address the climate crisis, no matter how far along they are on their journey, by using equity-centered solutions. Explore the insights from the guide below, with reflections from Ksenia Benifand, American Climate Futures’ Program Director. Download the guide here.

In the wake of intensifying climate change impacts, it is often that the most vulnerable communities are the most affected. These frontline and, many times, underserved communities are often less equipped to cope with- and recover from climate-related disasters. This disparity is further exacerbated by systemic inequalities, racism and extractive forms of capitalism that marginalize specific groups. This is climate injustice.

While significant investments are being made in climate solutions globally, a fraction of these funds are directed towards supporting frontline communities. Climate solutions must prioritize climate justice,addressing greenhouse gas emissions while concurrently rectifying historical injustices and ensuring that those most impacted by climate change co-create climate solutions that best fit the needs of their communities. 

Forum for the Future, a global sustainability non-profit, and B Lab U.S. and Canada have partnered to develop practical guidance for the private sector to accelerate action on climate justice. 

A practical guidance for businesses to advance climate justice

The Business Guide to Advancing Climate Justice is a compilation of perspectives from people living and working at the frontlines of climate change, individuals working to support and advance social justice issues, and those who believe that there is a significant role for the private sector to take action. It also includes the voices of business, policy-makers, and civil society experts working in partnership with frontline communities to advance these issues.

Through a series of interviews and workshops with frontline community leaders and experts, we have heard about the hopelessness, fear, anxiety, loss of income, displacement, damage to property, and deteriorating health that people are experiencing, along with a wide range of other injustices that intersect with the climate crisis. We also heard that progress is slow and solutions are not directly benefiting communities, with the people affected first and worst feeling unheard and left out. 

In addition, we have interviewed businesses beginning to embrace and prioritize climate and environmental justice as part of their climate action goals and strategies, that seek to build meaningful partnerships with communities.

Many businesses are increasingly recognizing their role and responsibility in championing climate justice. This paradigm shift demands a departure from traditional approaches rooted in authority and expertise towards a regenerative mindset grounded in humility, learning, and collaboration. It's about acknowledging past harms, actively listening, and co-creating solutions with impacted communities.

Key insights from the guidance

The following insights have been identified as most critical for businesses to consider when working to advance climate justice and seek ways to partner with communities:

  1. Prioritize trust-building with frontline communities: Frontline communities often perceive businesses to be extractive and lacking in follow-through. Businesses can begin to transform relationships by listening to frontline communities and being humble, present and collaborative over an extended period of time. To heal historical distrust, it is important to acknowledge past harms and take concrete actions aligned with community needs.

  2. Adopt a new mindset: Advancing climate justice calls for a different approach to business leadership: one that shifts away from short-term gains toward long-term solutions developed in partnership with communities to address the root causes of today’s biggest challenges, including the climate emergency, nature in crisis, and mounting inequality. Through this transition, businesses can contribute to ecosystem restoration and renewal while championing dignity, fulfillment, and equity for all.

  3. Offer immediate and sustained support to meet frontline community needs: Look for ways to reduce barriers for community organizations to access funding, including by shifting to an adaptive and relational model that prioritizes multi-year, unrestricted grants. Consider offering technical skills training, educational and mentorship opportunities, digital tools and other capacity building. It is important to acknowledge disparities and to engage in a deeper discussion about what a more equitable distribution of power and resources might look like.

  4. Consider your spheres of control and influence: Every business has spheres of control, like internal operations, and influence, like its value chain and the policies it advocates for. It is important to look across both spheres when it comes to climate justice. Climate solutions are most likely to advance climate justice when relevant priorities are integrated into business strategy and decision-making. To begin, businesses should prioritize areas of action and develop a process by which to assess the environmental impact of existing and future projects.

Businesses must recognize that creating long-term partnerships that challenge the often-tight timelines dominating corporate culture enables more sustainable and more impactful collaborations. Taking a first step is essential. It is essential for businesses to be brave and hold themselves accountable for past shortcomings in community relationships. Only then can businesses move forward to genuinely and effectively contribute to the acceleration of climate justice.

As different groups navigate the complexities of climate justice, we must forge ahead with determination, empathy, and a commitment to collective well-being. Together, we can build a more just and regenerative world for all. 

How to get involved: 

  • Download and share The Business Guide to Advancing Climate Justice

  • Book a lunch-and-learn with the Forum team to share more about this work with your organization by connecting with American Climate Futures’ Program Director, Ksenia Benifand.

  • Sign up for our newsletter to learn more about work and upcoming events.

Interested in learning more about the Business Guide to Advancing Climate Justice and Forum for the Future’s work on climate justice? Reach out to Ksenia Benifand, for more information.