The private sector in climate governance: Opportunities for climate compatible development through multilevel industry-government engagement

Globally, the sustainable development agenda is undergoing a process of climatisation. This means that climate change mitigation and adaptation are influencing the design and delivery of development initiatives. This paper explores the extent to which climate governance influences the role and practice of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in development. We draw on case study evidence from copper mining concessions in Northwestern Zambia in order to examine how CSR activities are adopting norms of climatised development. Our results show that the extractive industries are increasingly initiating CSR activities to align with local livelihoods, and therefore play a key role in climate compatible development (CCD). In addition, they act as context changers through for example, in-migration, which increases pressure on local forest resources. However, these roles go unacknowledged by both industry and government as CSR activities are disconnected from broader CCD priorities. We discuss the positive and negative implications of drawing the extractive industries into the CCD arena. We link to critiques of politicized CSR and consider practical implications, both for the sector and the achievement of climate development goals. We conclude that CSR activities should be seen as a local manifestation of multilevel engagement between the extractive industries and broader development sectors.

Leventon J, Dyer JC, Van Alstine JD(2015) Journal of Cleaner Production102, pp.316-323.