By Amy Bailey, Director for Climate Resilience and Sustainability, C2ES, and Shazre Quamber-Hill, Director for Strategy & Impact, Resilience First

Our global economy is becoming increasingly vulnerable to the compounding impacts of climate change, but as of right now, only 20% of companies have adaptation plans in place for managing physical climate risks. This is a significant oversight in corporate strategy which demands a robust response. 

In March 2024, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), Resilience First, and Resilience Rising launched the Corporate Climate Resilience Pathways (CCRP) initiative, a multi-year effort focused on empowering companies to enhance their resilience, scale up investment in adaptation, and drive systemic transformation toward a sustainable future.  

A key aspect of the initiative is to ensure that businesses carve a pathway toward a climate-resilient future where communities, especially the most vulnerable, can also thrive despite the uncertainties of a changing climate.

To set a strong foundation and build a shared vision of how companies should pursue climate resilience in their business strategies and activities, we gathered input from over 70 leading climate and corporate stakeholders, to develop a groundbreaking set of Principles for Corporate Climate Resilient Leadership.  Designed for broad endorsement and adoption by private enterprises globally, these principles aim to foster a common understanding among industry leaders about corporate leadership and assert a common view that companies leading on climate resilience are Science-Based & Proactive, Transparent & Accountable, Safeguarding & Enhancing, Inclusive & Equitable and TransformativeA full explanation of the principles and the findings from our consultations can be found here.

To mark this key milestone in the CCRP initiative, we recently convened climate experts from across the private sector to discuss the value of the principles and the urgent need to accelerate corporate action onclimate resilience. The event featured keynote remarks from Racquel Moses (CEO of the Caribbean Climate Accelerator and Ambassador to the UN Climate Champions), and a rich panel discussion between Emily Wasley (Head of Climate Resilience and Biodiversity at Meta), Jessica Filante (Director of Global Sustainability at AT&T), Nick Faull (Head of Climate and Sustainability Risk and Innovation at Marsh), and Peter Hall (Managing Director for Impact Advisory at Resonance).

Discussing the potential impact of the principles, the speakers emphasized that their true power lies in visionary interpretation and practical application by companies – considering resilience and adaptation at both the asset level (e.g., specific infrastructure, operations) and the broader system level (e.g., suppliers, communities). Embedding these principles in all decision-making processes can help companies prioritize and formulate their resilience efforts, particularly in often overlooked areas like the value chain. Highlights from this insightful discussion are shared below:

  • Visionary Corporate Leadership and Effective Governance: visionary leadership at the C-suite level is important and effective governance structures are crucial to ensure accountability, drive investment, and engage various sectors in climate action.
  • Robust Frameworks and Radical Collaboration: robust frameworks, guidance standards, and measurable indicators are necessary to help companies manage and measure climate resilience effectively. Moreover, radical collaboration between the public and private sectors is essential for overcoming existing barriers and scaling up transformative solutions to address climate change comprehensively.
  • Integration of Decarbonization and Resilience Efforts: Companies should strive to integrate their decarbonization and resilience efforts to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. There are numerous opportunities for synergy between these two goals, such as in last-mile energy projects, food and agriculture initiatives, water management, and infrastructure development. By considering resilience and adaptation alongside decarbonization initiatives, companies can address both environmental challenges and ensure operational continuity in the face of climate impacts.

Leveraging learnings from corporate decarbonization efforts, in this next, core phase of work we are now setting out to create a corporate climate resilience ecosystem that embodies the same values of innovation, collaboration, and commitment to change. Such an ecosystem would include a unified, comprehensive framework and corresponding implementation resources and global insights developed in collaboration with the private sector. This “by business, for business” solution would build on the guiding leadership principles above and draw on input from climate and resilience experts across businesses, NGOs, academia and governments. The resources would be crafted to meet different industry sectors’ specific needs, thereby equipping businesses with the tools and insights necessary for effective climate adaptation.  

Over the coming months we will work closely with businesses and key stakeholders to socialize the principles and bring them to life through corporate innovation stories. Along the way, we will be laying the groundwork to build out the comprehensive framework and grow an active community of practice through a series of convenings throughout the year. We invite those interested to join us in these convenings, in amplifying the principles, and in demonstrating that leading companies are already beginning to put the principles into practice.

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