There is a saying in English “there is nothing new under the Sun”. There is also the Romanian saying “nu e nimic nou sub soare” but judging by what my friends tell me, these two phrases have similar meanings but different emphasis. Whilst the Romanian phrase may convey the message “I already know that” the English phrase conveys more the sense that “we have been here before / this is not something completely novel”. Both phrases illustrate that the possession of knowledge is an advantage.
There may be particular exceptions such as in arbitrage, but the usefulness of knowledge which is pooled and shared is much greater than that which is available to only a few. The British Romanian Chamber of Commerce – and the COP26 climate change conference which is taking place in Glasgow at the start of November - both illustrate this.
Chambers of commerce exist to promote the interests of their members and, through them, of society as a whole. Members of the BRCC range from multinationals through small- and medium-sized enterprises to charities and “not-for-profit” organisations. All have a voice and a role to play in the Chamber and also in society.
Doing business – particularly international business – is not always straightforward. The advantage of members of the Chamber is that whatever problem they may face, there is a very good chance that another member of the Chamber will already have encountered and dealt with that issue. The Chamber is an excellent place to pool knowledge and if there should be an issue facing one or more members to which a ready solution is not already known (e.g. in responding to new proposed legislation or administrative measures), the Chamber is in an excellent position to ask for answers at the appropriate level on behalf of all of the members. There is strength in numbers.
In the case of the BRCC, the concept of strength in numbers is magnified through the business organisations in which the BRCC is active. In Romania, this is Coalitia pentru Dezvoltarea Romaniei (“CDR”) and in the UK, this is the British Chambers of Commerce (“BCC”). In CDR the BRCC joins with other bilateral chambers of commerce acting in Romania and with Romanian business organisations, interfacing with the Romanian Government and individual Ministries.
The BCC consists of the regional chambers of commerce in the UK as well as the global network of bilateral chambers, such as the BRCC, a total of 128 chambers. The BCC is therefore in an unrivalled position to inform government in the UK of business and economic trends, both domestic and international, through the experience of members of chambers in the network.
Both CDR and the BCC offer opportunities to share knowledge amongst their members (and so with the BRCC’s members) – they also offer a platform to share information with the “powers that be” based on the experience of the underlying business members. Neither CDR nor the BCC is a political organisation but the foundation of fact reported by the underlying membership bases places them on a different level than simple lobbyists.
If all of this sounds very theoretical, the BCC’s COP26 campaign “Chambers unite for a greener future” is an excellent example of how these relationships work in practice. The BCC sees the climate challenge – evidenced by increasing numbers representing average temperatures - as the single most important long-term issue facing us – many, hopefully all, businesses agree with this view.
Hopefully also the politicians meeting at COP26 will have the wisdom to commit to legal measures which will reduce the carbon footprint of human activity and to improve the resilience and sustainability of society – of which business forms an essential part. They should be in no doubt that the BCC and its member chambers (including the BRCC) will support them in this.
Whilst climate change is not something new for this planet, the question of how this generation and its business activities will respond to this challenge and cope with climate change is a new issue for us all, to which each of us needs to have an individual response. Knowledge is power and ideas for businesses to respond to the challenge of climate change are available through the BCC’s network campaign, with pooled resources such as the UK’s Climate Hub (https://smeclimatehub.org/uk/) and also (https://smeclimatehub.org/), as well as the “Member in the Spotlight” campaign which publicises the best practices and carbon footprint reduction measures taken by members of chambers in the BCC’s network. The tools are there for us all to use to make use of in making our businesses carbon-neutral, resilient and sustainable.
So, if we hear that there is a climate change threat to many of our business models (to say the least), one might respond with the saying “nu e nimic nou sub soare” because we should all be aware of the issue. Knowledge of the issue is not the same as action to deal with the issue and in that we can say that “there is nothing new under the Sun”: even if the challenges are new to us on an individual basis, other people have considered them and have developed responses. It is up to us to learn from them.