We are firmly in the climate decade. In the race to net zero there is an urgent lens on energy transition, reduction of carbon and the evolution of a greener economy and sustainable planet.

With COP26 on the horizon, the need for business-wide mobilisation and cross industry collaboration is becoming vital.

The collective power of trade associations to mobilise industries and supply chains provides an enormous opportunity to make a difference. Trade associations, big and small, have a key role to play in helping the industry they represent to tackle the climate emergency.

In the same way that consumers are increasingly demanding more from retailers and brands, including their supply chains, your members will look to you to provide a clear voice on your industries environmental impact and what you are doing to drive climate action.

If they are not already, your members and stakeholder community will start to demand evidence that, as their peak industry body, you are taking climate action seriously. They will expect to see you cement your position and demonstrate that you understand your sectors impact, with a ‘duty of care’ over your industry or sector.

Your members will also look to you for support and solutions to help them mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. Organisations are looking to make the transition to ensure longer-term sustainability and embrace the commercial and growth opportunities on offer.

This presents an opportunity for trade associations to drive member value and engage with your industry, both internally and externally. CAFA has been established specifically to provide climate action and sustainability support to associations, including; information, research, campaigns, guidance and tools to help your members take action and address the challenges that your industry is experiencing.

Many trade associations feel the need to lead by example and are waiting to get their own house in order before they feel they can effectively support their members. However, many associations are stumbling over where to start, having difficulty communicating the case to their board or are unable to prioritise change internally due to conflicting priorities.

Although there are some practical and relatively quick wins, setting out your climate action plan and reaching net zero is a journey that will take time. It is recommended that associations take logical steps to change internally and support members externally in tandem. By taking the necessary steps internally, you will demonstrate leadership to your industry, other associations, government and wider business.

Meaningful action needs organisation-wide buy in and to ensure this, senior leaders must have the conversation and deliver the business case to board and/or council members. Having buy-in at the top, will prove vital when embedding climate action into an association’s strategic objectives, plans and daily operations.

To reiterate, whilst climate change is a clear immediate risk to business and industry, it also offers enormous business opportunity. A transition to net zero presents a vast array of growth and financial savings for associations and their members. Reducing carbon can also result in cutting costs and creating cost savings that can be reinvested back into your association to deliver on your mission. Streamlining processes can prove to be transformational, from an environmental, cultural and operational perspective, making an association far more resilient as a result.

CAFA has been established specifically to convene and support trade and professional associations in their sustainable transition. CAFA is continually evolving guidance, solutions and tools to help associations take proactive climate action both internally and to support members on their net zero journey.

CAFA’s ambition is clear and simple, by collectively embracing the power of trade and professional associations, industries, systems, professions and supply chains, climate change can be accelerated so that an equitable, more sustainable responsible economy can be built and shared together. To find out more about CAFA, or to learn how can you can demonstrate your commitment to taking climate action, please visit www.climateactionforassociations.org for further information.

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