Consider this story from the perspective of each person, and avoid thinking in terms of "blame".
Co-worker: There is an issue that needs addressing. It may have been
discussed before by someone else, but it didn't get any traction. It
still has to be dealt with.
Sr manager: This sounds like an important issue. In fact, it seems
familiar, like maybe we've talked about this before. I thought
someone was already working on this? Can someone just fix this and
make it go away?
Each person could certainly be doing a better job at crediting previous attempts, but the fact remains that just because you attempted to solve the issue previously does not give you sole ownership for the rest of your career. So what to do now? Since you were previously championing the issue and didn't get traction, throw your full support behind this new attempt. The feeling should not be "Hey, I already tried this and didn't get anywhere, why are you stealing my work". It should be "I've been trying to get this fixed for years, thank you for taking this up and trying to get it done! Can I help by pulling some more of my old docs and coming to meetings with you?" This provides subtle reminders that you've laid some groundwork, but keeps the focus on solving the issue.
Any other lessons to learn? Consider why your attempt at getting this fixed didn't succeed. "I wasn't listened to" is not entirely accurate. Clearly the boss thinks the issue is important this time around. Was the boss too busy last time, and distracted by other things? Then you have to stay with the problem and bring it up later. Was your argument unconvincing to the boss? Maybe you were focused on technical problems, but the boss needed to hear a business argument. Maybe your argument was perfect, but the boss didn't understand what you were saying. Did you start with the wrong person, and you should have first convinced an assistant or a deputy or your direct supervisor to build support.
LACK OF ACTION IS NOT REJECTION.