What Organizations Can Learn from the World Climate Conference (COP28)

December 18, 2023 | What's Hot | 5 min read

A landmark moment has occurred in the fight for climate action.

After lengthy negotiations at this year’s World Climate Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the conference closed on December 13 with 200 countries agreeing to transition away from fossil fuels. It is the first time such an agreement has been reached in 28 years of international climate negotiations.

A first draft of the climate deal was released early-on in the conference, but was immediately criticized by many countries—including the United States, Australia, Canada, Chile, the European Union, and Norway—as being too weak because it omitted a “phase-out” of fossil fuels. This caused the conference to go on a few days longer than expected until a more forceful call for action could be included in the final agreement.

Nations have now entered “the beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era by laying the groundwork for a quick, just, and equitable transition to cleaner energy sources. It’s clear that making a valuable difference requires unification of leaders from around the world.

But government leaders aren’t the only ones who need to step up. Global business leaders must follow their lead, taking cues to establish their own environmental and social initiatives. Which begs the question: How are business leaders approaching their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives and their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives?

Take a look at Skillsoft’s recent Corporate Social Responsibility at Work report, which benchmarks our collective progress in corporate social responsibility so organizations can have a more informed picture of the CSR landscape moving forward – including how it connects to the greater push for environmental activism.

Putting the "Corporate" in Social Responsibility

Environmental activism, after all, is inextricably intertwined with social activism.

In order for a company to be successful, leaders must dedicate time, resources, and training to ensure that they are able to tackle important social issues. Our CSR at Work report reflected that other organizations feel similarly, with respondents citing the following factors as key to a successful CSR program:

  • Investing in long-term plans (35%)
  • Committing time and people resources in addition to money (32%)
  • Creating authentic connections and partnerships (20%)
  • Integrating our efforts into all teams within the company (12%)

This year’s climate conference went far beyond solely advocating for climate action, with full days dedicated to tackling pressing issues like how to build a new climate finance environment that would serve to address gender and economic inequalities.

A focus on global collaboration to work towards a better future for everyone is important to emulate on a corporate level.

But how much of an impact can your company really have when considered in the same vein as a global movement? The biggest changes always start out small. By implementing vigorous ESG and CSR initiatives, you can effectively inspire members of your organization to take necessary strides towards making a difference, something whose effects also make for a happier, healthier, and more successful work environment.

After all, when individuals and organizations approach environmental initiatives with clarity and purpose, we can make significant strides in social and climate action. That’s why we’re invested in dedicating resources to understanding what social issues matter to companies and their employees and how they put their words into action.

Learn how one utility company is using training as a tool to support its ESG initiatives.

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This Year’s Trends in CSR

In the past, many organizations were solely focused on turning a profit when conducting business. However, things look a bit different today as businesses are now expected to do the “right thing” for the greater good.

Results from our 2023 Corporate Social Responsibility at Work report show that business leaders recognize the impact of CSR on company success and that employees are becoming invested in contributing to a rapidly changing world.

The top CSR priorities from our survey respondents mirrored top focuses from COP28, such as:

  1. Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  2. Improving labor policies
  3. Participating in fair trade
  4. Learning and education

These similarities prove that activism trends in the international social and climate landscape are reinforced within organizations.

Furthermore, being an activist for employees is not just a moral imperative; it’s also a strategic one. Our survey shows that consistent activism has numerous benefits for employees by demonstrating genuine concern for their well-being and encouraging engagement, retention, and loyalty.

But, if your organization decides to take a stand, it is imperative that you have clear goals and measurable outcomes when it comes to what actions you’re implementing and why. Therefore, it’s important that company leaders take actionable steps to hold themselves and the people around them accountable, and organization-wide training is a great first step.

Look at how training can become an integral part of your sustainability strategy.

Key Wins from COP28 and the Global Commitment to Social Responsibility

This year there were many major wins from the Climate Conference. Here are a few key ones:

  1. A commitment to transitioning away from fossil fuels.
  2. The mobilization of over $57 billion to support priorities across the global climate agenda.
  3. The announcement of eight new declarations to help transform every major system of the global economy, including the first ever declarations on food systems transformation.
  4. Major declarations on renewable energy and efficiency, as well as initiatives to decarbonize heavy emissions.

Overall, this conference signals a new era of climate action on the road to 2030 and provides an opportunity for the international community to unite behind a shared commitment for more expansive and urgent social and climate action.

When we commit to taking steps to fight against climate change, we are also committing to helping fight against socioeconomic and gender inequality on a national and international scale.

So, in the words of the conference presidency: “Enough waiting. It’s time to take action.”

Learn more about how your organization can take strides towards implementing successful corporate social responsibility initiatives by reading Skillsoft’s 2023 Corporate Social Responsibility at Work Report and commit to making a change today.