Networks, not governments, are driving the fight against climate change | #socialmedia


What’s clear from the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow is that minimizing the growing occurrence of floods, drought, hurricanes, heatwaves and wildfires requires more than what the COP organization can provide. This is also true of the United Nations, G20 or the International Monetary Fund, or any similar organization based on national governments.

It’s not just that they are laggards, which of course they are. Leaders of governments, no matter how earnest, can’t do the job alone. We all need to participate.

This is why the world needs more Greta. The 18-year-old Swedish activist organized a protest march on the streets outside the COP26 conference centre. More than 100,000 climate activists participated, and their voices were bolstered by more protesters in cities worldwide.

The march ended at a massive rally, where Greta denounced the UN-organized conference as a “greenwash festival” for wealthy countries and a “two-week-long celebration of business as usual and blah, blah, blah.” Social media spread her words far and wide to an audience uninterested in COP26 press releases.

Greta Thunberg and her allies are an excellent example of something very new: emerging non-state networks of civil society, the private sector, government, and individual stakeholders that use the Internet to achieve globe-spanning cooperation and social change. These networks address every conceivable issue, such as poverty, human rights, diseases, economic policy, financial inclusion, depleted fisheries, and blood diamonds.

I call these new entities global solution networks (GSNs). They bring together those interested in a particular issue or project and are not controlled by governments. Greta’s group is FridaysForFuture.org, which liaises with scores of other like-minded networks.

The world is ready for change. As the climate gets warmer, corporate leaders and shareholders increasingly grasp that business can’t succeed in a failing world. They realize that climate change is existential and that the S&P 500 may be moot within a few decades.

They need to be joined by every entrepreneur, NGO, community, and even kids in every schoolyard. The goal: slash the output of greenhouse gases by doing nothing less than re-industrializing planet Earth.

When I began examing the GSN phenomena, there were no tools or language to describe these diverse networks and understand their potential. To help meet this need, I led a three-year, multi-million-dollar research program to identify the different types of GSNs, what makes them tick, and the challenges they face. Our team focused on many topics, but climate change was the most important.

Our work is now available to the public at no cost. Global Solution Networks (gsnetworks.org) offers global problem solvers expert insights, cases and field tools. With these tools, network leaders can build or scale GSNs while they connect to fellow problem-solvers around the world. With connection comes hope.

Given the small window of time to reduce CO2 emissions by close to 90 per cent by 2050 and the unsuccessful track record of governments to date, it is time for a much more ambitious approach.

It is time to launch a Global Climate Governance Network — a network of climate-change GSNs. This meta-network will dramatically increase global collaboration among the thousands of networks worldwide, mobilize unprecedented public action, strengthen leadership capabilities and raise awareness of financial resources, best practices and innovations required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A Global Climate Governance Network involving the world’s citizens would be a significant step to bring greater coherence, shared purpose, and dynamism to the battle against climate change.

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