How Associations Can Help Confront Climate Change

Foundation Report Associations Now Winter 2020 Issue By: Emily Rabbitt, CAE

Associations can make a difference by adopting more environmentally friendly business practices and supporting their members’ sustainability efforts, according to an ASAE ForesightWorks action brief.

Climate change is a growing concern across the globe, and new groups are mobilizing to drive action in new ways. Instead of national-level efforts, future climate change action will be driven by smaller-scale constituencies—state, provincial, and local entities; businesses and organizations; and individuals.

Younger generations approach climate change action with new perspectives and increased urgency, and diverse industries and practices may face scrutiny. Associations will face pressures, too, from both members and the broader industries they serve, according to the ASAE ForesightWorks “Climate Change Resiliency” action brief.

But associations are well-positioned to create and coordinate action. Leaders can start by making decisions regarding annual activities and operational needs that take climate impact into consideration—planning conferences that are centrally located to reduce attendee travel distances, prioritizing waste reduction and sustainability, and exploring options for virtual participation in meetings and events.

Associations can also help their members develop proactive policies that address climate change. Educational programming, ethics codes and guidelines, and credentials can be connected to practices that reduce environmental impact. Recognition of innovative efforts by members shines a light on effective practices that can serve as models for others.

The “Climate Change Resiliency” action brief provides additional data and trends to watch and suggests action steps for association leaders. The brief is available as part of the ASAE ForesightWorks Complete Collection and User’s Guide.

Emily Rabbitt, CAE

Emily Rabbitt, CAE, is a former manager of research content and knowledge resources for the ASAE Foundation.