19 July 2018

RE-IMAGINE and BNP Paribas: the role of the private sector in a climate change world

Scenarios are increasingly used by governments and organizations like the UN in climate change planning. Banks must also adapt to ensure a sustainable future in a changing world. Utrecht University researchers Joost Vervoort and Karlijn Muiderman spoke with employees of BNP Paribas about the role of the private sector at two events in London and Amsterdam.

Policy makers, businesses, NGOs and civil society all struggle with thinking about a future under climate change. And climate change is not our only future challenge. The future is shaped by a complex web of economic, cultural, technological and political developments that interact with climate change.

Why do we need to think about governing uncertain climate futures?

Scenario planning is a type of foresight method. It can help us explore what different futures might look like in the face of uncertainty and complexity. However, it is important to think about the political implications of such engagements with the future.

What kinds of approaches are used? Whose ideas on the future determine the actions taken in present? Are climate risks for the most vulnerable downplayed or ignored? These are all questions raised by Vervoort’s project Re-imagining anticipatory climate governance in the world’s vulnerable regions (RE-IMAGINE). RE-IMAGINE was funded by the BNP Paribas Foundation’s Climate Action Call.

BNP Paribas and the role of the private sector in a climate change world

Banks such as BNP Paribas are increasingly thinking about their role in a climate change world. The BNP Paribas Foundation invited RE-IMAGINE team members Joost Vervoort (UU), Karlijn Muiderman (UU/WUR), Charlotte Ballard (UU) and Maliha Muzammil (Oxford) to talk with the bank's employees at two climate-related events in Amsterdam and London.

Topics discussed in both sessions included: what is the role of BNP Paribas and the private sector in general in terms of limiting emissions? And what about climate adaptation - helping to deal with climate impacts?  How can societal values be shifted more quickly?

The importance of both climate change mitigation and adaptation

Several audience members were interested in why RE-IMAGINE and many other climate projects do not focus on reducing emissions from the most polluting countries.

Here Vervoort stressed that while strong action is urgently needed on reducing emissions, climate change is also already happening. The poorest countries will be most affected. He urged that “we need make sure these countries are equipped to adapt to an uncertain future under climate change”.

You can watch a recording of the event in London here.