Giving Thoughts


Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement: Can Business Volunteering and Nonprofit Partnerships Make a Difference?

By Alice KorngoldParis Climate Agreement

US companies decry the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. They recognize that climate change is destructive for humanity and detrimental to peace and prosperity. There is positive action from hundreds of companies, along with governors and mayors. Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the UN Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, pledged $15 million toward fulfilling the US portion of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Partnerships with nonprofits are fundamental to businesses that are most effective at finding solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. These partnerships include employee volunteering and philanthropy. As shown in A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Finding Solutions to Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot, businesses that collaborate with nonprofits gain valuable expertise, access to communities, and credibility. Additionally, employees who provide global probono services develop insights and skills that advance corporate innovation. And employees who serve on nonprofit boards develop as leaders while advancing vital social, economic, and environmental missions.

Our country’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement threatens:

  • American leadership in innovation and research and development With the severe budget cuts that the White House proposes for the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes for Health (NIH), our nation’s best scientists and researchers can be lured to other countries that are investing more deeply.
  • American relationships abroad US companies are more vulnerable to trade disputes and carbon tariffs.
  • US jobs When research, development, and innovation move abroad, so do jobs. Higher tariffs on US exports also hurt employment.
  • Our communities Addressing climate change and building resilience are essential to protect lives as well as property.
  • People who are poor and disenfranchised Poorer people are at particularly high risk from climate-related shock, according to The World Bank.

Nonprofits play a variety of roles in helping companies to address such threats. IMPACT 2030 was established by the UN to activate employee volunteers from thousands of companies worldwide to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Cities of Service works with communities nationwide to involve business and community volunteers in addressing pressing problems, including climate change. PYXERA Global facilitates public-private partnerships, including deploying volunteers from dozens of multinational corporations to address global problems. The World Environment Center (WEC) advances sustainable development through the business practices of member companies and in partnership with governments, multilateral organizations, and nonprofits.

Now is the time for companies to ramp up and also focus their philanthropy and employee volunteer programs highly strategically to address the threats from climate change. Working effectively with nonprofits is fundamental to each of these approaches:

  • Aim your attention and resources on the areas where we face the highest risks: research and innovation; international relations; workforce development in renewable energy and smart cities; and resilience, particularly for those who are most vulnerable.
  • Expand and enhance your volunteer programs to include nonprofit board service. Employees with valuable expertise can be useful in strengthening board governance and the impact of vital organizations.
  • Educate employees and communities, including through forums, about the threats of climate change and ways they can be productive in helping to find solutions.
  • Revisit your company’s nonprofit partnerships to ensure that you are choosing the most effective nonprofits for your purposes and working with them for the best results. (See chapter 8 in A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Finding Solutions to Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot.)
  • Lead from the top, with your CEO and C-suite executives setting an example through their philanthropy and service.
  • Make it easy for employees to engage meaningfully, and recognize and appreciate their contributions.

It is yet to be seen the extent to which multinational corporations, nonprofits, states, and cities can counteract the potential damage caused by the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. But stronger partnerships, particularly with nonprofits, are clearly an important way forward.

About the author:

Alice Korngold

Alice Korngold
A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot

Alice Korngold is co-editor of Giving Thoughts and the author of A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and Leveraging Good Will: Strengthening Nonprofits by Engaging Businesses (Jossey Bass, A Wiley Imprint, 2005). For over 20 years, she has been training and placing business executives on NGO/nonprofit boards and consulting to corporations, foundations, and NGOs/nonprofits on board governance, CSR, and sustainability. Twitter: @alicekorngold

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Giving Thoughts

Giving Thoughts Series

The Giving Thoughts Series is an online publication in which corporate philanthropy experts delve into the most pressing issues affecting our members.

Download the latest issues here:
Making Social Enterprises More Effective: The Five-Step Approach to Engaging Stakeholders

The Future of Disaster Philanthropy

Donor Advised Funds: Democratizing Philanthropy to Change the World

Or visit our Giving Thoughts Series Archive to download all of our previous issues.