This week, the eyes of the world turn to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. In a year of a global energy crisis and rampaging extreme weather – leading the World Meteorological Organisation to state that powerful heat waves and devastating floods are now “the new normal” – the stakes for COP26 couldn’t be higher.
Pressure is mounting on political and industry leaders to accelerate decisive action towards capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2050, after which point climate change will likely reach catastrophic proportions.
Boris Johnson will tell the summit that “it’s one minute to midnight and we need to act now” as he calls on leaders to go beyond their pledges to developing nations and act on “coal, cars, cash and trees”.
Activists have descended on Glasgow to demand stronger commitments are taken. However, with many world leaders of major emitters declining to attend, and developing countries facing major costs and barriers to participate, this summit is being held with tough political obstacles to success.
While around 20,000 delegates representing 195 countries will be taking part, COP26 has been labelled an ‘every citizen moment’. Therefore, you might be thinking ‘what can I do?” to help reduce your impact on global warming.
An Every Citizen Moment
As the world’s leaders try to resolve significant differences on how the world should cut its greenhouse gas emissions, the UN has listed a number of individual actions we can take to play our part. For those decision makers in businesses, there are commitments you can make to play your part too.
According to the UN, Climate Action and Supporting Sustainable Development are strategic aims that go hand in hand. This means if businesses plan, act and govern in a way to support sustainability, industries will also play its part in fighting climate change and a net-zero future.
Sustainable development and climate action are linked – and both are vital to the present and future well-being of humanity. A more sustainable global economy will help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. It is, therefore, critically important that the international community meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – and also the targets for reducing emissions set in the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015.
– United Nations
Introducing the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda
All members of the United Nations, the UK included, are part of a revolutionary project known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since 2013, this UN-led initiative has provided a ‘blueprint for peace and prosperity’ that the governments of each UN member must follow. But the SDGs can apply to businesses too, no matter how small they might be.
We believe all business leaders should have an awareness of these 17 goals, which include things like zero hunger, clean water, and affordable and clean energy, and reflect on what they can do to help bring the world closer to reaching them. You can see the full list here, but the SDGs we’re focusing on at Waste to Wonder are:
Goal 4: Quality education
Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth
Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities
Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production
Goal 13: Climate action
Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals.
Many of the redundant desks and chairs we ethically clear from our customers and partners go to schools. This means no more sitting on the floor or crowding around uncomfortable makeshift tables, which in turn means better comfort and focus for learning.
Our items also go towards training centres and community spaces. But perhaps one of the most productive uses of it is as props and practice pieces for vocational courses in the trades (as seen in our case study video for Romanian charity FAST).
The goal isn’t just to provide temporary help. It’s about providing lasting resources for communities to continually help themselves.
How to consider the SDGs within your business
Businesses don’t need to take on all 17 goals. For starters, not all of them will apply to every business. And making a big impact in a handful of goals, or even just one, is markedly better than making small, overstretched efforts across all of them.
We contribute to the goals not just by assisting developing nations, but by looking at how we manage things at home.
The very act of collecting furniture from businesses via our ethical clearance services feeds into SDGs 11, 12, and 13. Office furniture comes with a big carbon footprint. Huge amounts of water are used in the production of microchips, fibres, and fabrics. Trees are cut down to make tables and shelves. Oil is drilled to make plastic for chairs.
By redistributing these goods to communities that need them, rather than sending them for recycling, the energy to use ratio becomes much more balanced. Living on circular principles where we share goods rather than destroying them will play a huge part in reducing humanity’s impact on the planet (and bringing us together in the process).
We encourage all businesses to look at their circularity. How much of your waste is linear (i.e. going straight to landfill once it’s been used)? Before you consider recycling something, can it first be reused in its current state (this is especially true of things like glass bottles, plastic postage bags, and cardboard boxes)?
If you’re a business owner seeking an easy and cost-effective way to contribute to the SDGs, speak to us about our ethical clearance services here.
Intelligent Recycling is Reuse.
Are you looking for an ethical clearance provider?
We are office clearance specialists for socially conscious businesses. If you have an upcoming clearance project in the UK or Europe that you would like to see benefit communities, please get in touch to see how we can manage it for you.