Climate Action

How “catalytic collaboration” can help us succeed in the Decisive Decade

Saïd Business School published a key report commissioned by the international climate change campaign Mission 2020, The Decisive Decade: Organising Climate Action.

  • 04 November 2021
  • Press Release

How did we get here? And how do we get to the next stage of climate action? In the summer, Saïd Business School published a key report commissioned by the international climate change campaign Mission 2020, The Decisive Decade: Organising Climate Action. This significant piece of research maps, for the first time, the full ecosystem of global climate change organisations. It also suggests how these organisations can best work together to overcome fragmentation across business, civil society and government and achieve meaningful change. 

Building on the successful climate change talks that led to the Paris Agreement in 2015, Christiania Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2010 to 2016 and important figure in the Paris discussions, convened Mission 2020 to help ensure the agreement would be fully implemented. This new report is a key part of that process. 

Co-author Rajiv Joshi, who is attending COP26, said: “Climate action is about human flourishing. This inquiry has engaged individuals and organisations across the field, reflecting their collective ideas for the way forward. It is both timely and designed to support action to meet the goal of equitably halving emissions by 2030”. Based on a comprehensive analysis of business, philanthropic, civil society and government organisations involved in climate change action, it goes beyond slogans and statements to identify core activities and relationships among different groups and, vitally, how these can be improved. 

It identifies seven critical roles that climate action organisations fulfil, which together form what the report calls the Decisive Seven: Shakers, Analysts, Playmakers, Weavers, Frameworkers, Pioneers and First Aiders. Differences in the goals and strategies each role pursues can impede collaborative effort, the report finds, contributing to uneven involvement in climate change action across sectors and limiting coordination with groups working on related issues of health, sustainable development, human rights, gender rights and economic justice. Compounding these challenges, philanthropic funding tends to privilege organisations in the Global North, limiting diversity of participation.

But the Decisive Seven roles also hold the key to addressing the climate crisis, the report finds. This is because collectively they accomplish three core activities – highlighting, orchestrating and operationalising – that are essential for deep, systemic change. Highlighting involves creating awareness and providing scientific evidence of the challenge, orchestrating entails convening different actors and allocating resources to address the issue, whilst operationalising consists of developing and implementing solutions.

To unlock the potential of the ‘Decisive Seven’ the report argues, new strategies are needed to harmonise their distinct yet complementary approaches. The report offers three key recommendations: 

  • Develop a shared narrative that captures the imagination of everyday citizens and powerfully conveys how social and economic systems can be transformed for the better. 
  • Build trust and create opportunities for joint action across sectors, regions and communities with different stakes and interests in the climate crisis.
  • Strengthen accountability by creating common reporting frameworks and clear targets for corporations to meet net zero commitments and ensuring those most responsible for environmental damage are responsive to those most affected by it.

“More and more people are recognizing that they, and their organizations, need to be involved in addressing climate change. This report helps them to understand how they can best contribute – what roles they can play and how to amplify their collective impact,” says Marya Besharov, co-author of the report.


Rajiv Joshi and Marya Besharov, lead authors of the report: “There is increasing agreement that greater collaboration and broader participation is needed in the climate action field, but how can we actually make it happen? This report identifies three key strategies for bringing together businesses, civil society organisations, philanthropic funders, and governments to deliver systemic change for people and our planet.” 


Rajiv Joshi is attending COP26 and can be contacted for interview on He is co-organiser of the Climate Action Lab, a major convening space in Glasgow during the conference

Marya Besharov is also available for interview. For more information, please contact