“It’s essential for a company to be able to not just say that they have the strategies, but to measure how they matter in terms of minimizing financial loss and helping the community. Communities also want to know what is effective so that they can help companies. It’s important for everyone to know what is and isn’t working.”
Over the course of the paper, Oetzel discusses various strategies for multinational businesses to maintain operations and reduce risk in the event of a natural disaster. Through developing alternative supply chains and partnerships with other economic sectors, firms can minimize disruption when extreme weather events strike, which in turn lowers the impact of what Oetzel calls cascading disasters. “Environmental scientists have been working on the idea of how one disaster can become a cascading event that creates other disasters,” she said. “We’ve seen it with COVID-19, for instance. We also saw it in 2010 when the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in Iceland, and the ash clouds covered Western Europe. Flights were delayed, and it disrupted economic activity there.” Oetzel found the notion of cascading disasters particularly interesting while conducting this research and hopes to study it further.
Though Kogod students have a plethora of resources to choose from if they want to study the impact of climate change on business, Professor Oetzel stresses the importance of an interdisciplinary approach. ESG (environmental, social, and governance) has become a vital lens in recent years. She asserts that it’s more important than ever to know how business interacts with other fields.
“These links might be less explicit, but it’s critical to be aware of them. Everything from environmental issues to workers’ rights, food waste, the effect of different industries on communities—it’s all relevant to business too.”
By exploring these connections between sectors, Kogod students can ensure that they enter the field with a complete understanding of how business impacts the rest of the world and vice versa.