Private Sector Partnerships in Climate Finance

By Senashia Ekanayake

As impacts of climate change are felt around the world, the urgency to take action too has simultaneously increased. In order to acknowledge the need of vulnerable communities, and to take concrete actions on the ground, developing countries need finance. Thus climate finance has become one of the key issues faced by many developing States. Climate Action Network South Asia’s (CANSA) last Development Journalism workshop organised with the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) had a special focus on the role of the private sector partnerships for climate finance. Janathakshan Director Ranga Pallawala who is also a member of the National Expert Committee on Climate Change Adaptation of Government of Sri Lanka and a CANSA Board Member, presented on the importance of understanding the involvement, and avenues for involvement by the private sector in climate change related actions.

Climate Change and Consumer Behaviour

Like many disciplines, fields of study, work and research that are impacted by climate change, consumer behaviour is no exception. Governments are looking at ventures, products and development methods that are not only cost-effective and economical but also sustainable.

At the same time, the corporate sector too is gradually embracing the implications surfacing as a result of climate change and is looking into methods that are more sustainable and with resources that are renewable. Naturally comes in the shift into renewables and the private sector’s interest in the field. Two examples that Pallawala used to explain its occurrence are online marketing and climate-resilient crop varieties in agriculture.

In the context of online marketing, he explained how most companies, in Sri Lanka and the rest of the world are migrating completely towards e-commerce and similar electronic transactions due to the minimal cost of operations. As a result of climate change, companies are beginning to look into mitigation within the organisation that would lower overhead costs when adapting to uncontrollable variables.

The private sector is directly vulnerable to the effects of climate change especially in the field of agriculture, and adaptation is one of its priorities.

“From a business perspective, climate change adaptation is seen as business risk mitigation and thereby those in the sector should ideally be aware of the new risks that would arise as a result of climate change and further, learn to project further climatic changes that would impact the business,” said Pallawala.

He went on to say how adaptation could also be looked at as a new business opportunity by developing new crop varieties that are sustainable to cyclones, droughts and that these ventures should be capitalised upon.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Pallawala also spoke on the evolution of CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility. Tracing its roots, he pointed out how CSR began as separate from an organisation’s core business and involved activities that were removed from any particular business concern. However as the decades rolled by, businesses began gradually integrating core business activities with their CSR activities almost to an extent that now organisations are identified as “socially responsible businesses”.

“This notion of ‘socially responsible businesses’ is also accompanied with how the private sector intends to deal with climate change impacts: by establishing and maintaining sustainability in the long run,” said Pallawala.

The monthly workshops organised by CANSA and SLPI are targeted at gathering journalists and all those interested in being a part of a larger knowledge sharing experience where resource persons working in the various fields of climate change are brought together.

The presentation from the Workshop is available on our SlideShare profile here.

About The Author:

SeniSenashia Ekanayake is a writer, an advocate of Arts, Education and climate change activist. She read for her degree in English, dabbled in the corporate world and is now involved with CANSA Communications.