The Business Case for Climate Engagement

More than 130 countries have pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century. Yet, as demonstrated over almost three decades since the Rio Earth Summit, making commitments to reduce carbon emissions is the easy part. 

Short-term pressures, difficult policy trade-offs and partisan U-turns have significantly delayed climate action in many countries around the world. As the frequency of climate-related disruptions increases, governments may only find it more challenging to maintain agreement on the path forward.

Governments that share knowledge, respond to public ideas and co-create their climate responses will earn greater trust, helping them to sustain momentum over the coming decades. Using modern engagement methods, decision-makers can benefit from public input that is representative, informed and actionable. These participatory approaches can also lead to better, fairer outcomes by grounding decisions in both the scientific knowledge of experts, as well as the values and lived experience of citizens and underrepresented communities.

Benefits of climate engagement can include:

Accelerating climate mitigation and adaptation by co-creating shared vision and solutions 

A more participatory relationship between governments and the communities they serve can accelerate the shift to net-zero emissions by reducing misinformation, making policies more responsive to community needs and co-creating a shared vision that allows stakeholders, residents and citizens to move in the same direction towards their collective goals.

Protecting against anti-democratic populism as climate disruptions increase 

Democracy as a system of government is under threat in countries around the world. Even in established democracies, many citizens don’t trust elected officials or believe they care what ordinary people think. These conditions provide fertile ground for antidemocratic populism in response to the trauma, anger and misinformation that will accompany the climate crisis. Listening and visibly responding to citizen voices can help to maintain public confidence and increase the democratic legitimacy of difficult decisions. 

Supporting climate justice by centering the voices of those who will be most impacted

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recognizes that many marginalized and equity-seeking communities face higher-than-average impacts due to climate change. Yet our findings show that many governments struggle to successfully incorporate the voices of impacted communities into decision-making. Climate engagement can support increased climate justice by building partnerships with those communities who will be most affected by climate change in ways that address power imbalances, build mutual capacity and advance shared goals. 

Dialogue Dispatch


Dialogue Dispatch is our community of practice newsletter where we share updates on our team's knowledge exchange activities alongside inspiring case studies, suggested readings and practical tools for people and organizations working to transform the field of democratic participation.

First Name: 
Last Name: 

Read the most recent Dialogue Dispatch issue: