The role of collaboration and leadership

Despite the great strides that have been made in recent years, there is a growing gap between the pledges that are being made and the real reductions in GHG emissions needed to reach net zero.

This substantial gap between targets and transformative climate action clearly demonstrates the need for effective leadership to steer us towards a net zero economy, at both the individual and collective level. The following sections explore examples of leaders who have made progress towards delivering a net zero economy. As you read this section, reflect on the tools, techniques, attributes and approaches that both individual and collective leaders have used to influence policy and change business practice and collective behaviour across all levels of society.

Influencing policy

Collaborative leadership at all levels of government is essential to ensure that effective and consistent policy packages are designed and implemented to drive the net zero transition. To be successful, any initiative aimed at influencing policy should have at its core an inclusive approach that involves a diversity of stakeholders.

The importance of a collaborative, multi-stakeholder approach has been illustrated by the development of national regulation to reduce food waste in France, launched in 2016. Following extensive consultation with politicians, businesses and NGOs, the French Parliament introduced a law that requires large supermarkets to tackle food waste through prevention, recovery and recycling. Large stores are required to make contractual agreements with food assistance organisations for donating edible surplus food products, and educational providers are obliged to teach students how to address food waste (Mourad & Finn, 2019).

The French policy package has resulted in higher levels of surplus food being donated, the quality of the donations improving, and new partnerships and food recovery start-ups being created. And perhaps most importantly, it has shifted the expectations around food waste among the public and food system businesses (Mourad & Finn, 2019).

Explore further:

The adoption of the Paris Agreement was a direct result of individual and collaborative leadership. In her TED talk, Christiana Figueres, the former Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, shares how governments from 195 countries managed to go from confrontation to collaboration, overcome significant challenges and disagreements, and reach a unanimous agreement. She emphasises the importance of collaboration, engaging key stakeholders and maintaining optimism in generating action around climate change.

Reflect on some of the techniques and strategies that are highlighted by Figueres. Which strategies could you apply to your professional context to secure support for a net zero transition?