Civil society as a solution and its role in ‘Think global, act local’

Today, climate change is arguably one of the biggest concerns around the globe. Its impacts can be seen everywhere we look. But perhaps the problem exists because it’s more difficult to fight in a world that is undergoing rapid urbanisation. 

With a majority of countries in South and Southeast Asia growing at a rapid pace, it becomes difficult to fight climate change. A developing nation needs more resources to help combat their rise in  greenhouse gas emissions. 

The world is also rapidly shifting towards digitisation. More and more governments are forging a digital economy that stands resilient in times of climate change. This is more evident in countries like India, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt. 

This now poses a double worry. The first is that climate change is happening at breakneck speed. Secondly, the pace of urbanisation can’t be slowed as it offers people a better standard of living, giving them a chance to find a way out of poverty. 

What needs to be done?

The phrase “Think Global, Act Local” needs to be adopted at COP27. Without question, it would need the support of civil society. The mission would be to identify local solutions to climate change and interact with the local governments to implement them. 

The solution to climate change today lies not in the top-to-bottom policies but in the bottom-up approach. Solutions don’t need to be huge, they can be as small as digitalising the water supply to help reduce wastage. Or, setting up smart cities that minimise human waste. But they’ll have to come from local communities as they are most aware of their surroundings. 

It’s already happening in several countries like Indonesia and China. In 2017, Indonesia started the “100 Smart Cities Movement” which aimed to set up 100 smart cities across the nation by 2045. These cities will be digital and have more climate-friendly solutions. 

In China, several “sponge cities” have been established to fight floods. The infrastructure of these cities is such that it absorbs the water and the solutions are natural, not artificial. These may include planting more trees and better waste management. 


How can you help?

The private sector has huge potential in bringing in money as well as expertise. This enables innovation and technological advancements. For example, in countries fighting heavy floods, companies can come up with a cloud-based solution for water management. 

Or, in countries facing droughts, private companies can come up with new solutions to help agriculture. Knowledge-based companies can come up with early warning systems to warn governments about the threat. 

But it would need help. Governments need to provide food, medicine and in poorer countries even water to the citizens. In Africa and South and Southeast Asia, there are several countries that need government intervention in almost every field. 

There, the private sector can set up new ventures. They can come up with new ways to involve civil society in coming up with local solutions to climate change-related issues. They can then implement the solutions on a global level, standing by the philosophy of “Think global, act local”. 

But why?

The private sector also stands to gain a lot from this. With civil society, they can set up huge firms that offer new solutions. Also, they stand a chance of creating a new breakthrough. 

It will help them take advantage of the huge markets present in South Asia and Africa as most highly populated countries in the world belong to these regions.