By, Lance Pierce, CEO, NetHope
COP27, the annual UN climate talks, have concluded with an unexpected last-minute agreement to establish a new “Loss and Damage” fund for big greenhouse gases emitters to pay vulnerable groups for the negative impacts of climate change. Although no monies have yet to be appropriated for this fund, its establishment represents a policy breakthrough because it acknowledges the intersection of challenges posed by climate threats.
In the early days of the UN climate negotiations, the idea of prioritizing adaptation and resiliency efforts in the face of the existential threat of climate change was seen as a kind of failure. The problem of a changing climate was defined solely in terms of the need to mitigate the problem of runaway greenhouse gas emissions. Today, it is encouraging to see people and places moving to the center of the agenda.
NetHope launched our Climate Intersections Program in early 2022, designed as a place where NetHope Member organizations working in relief, development, and conservation, our Regional Chapters working across the world, and our technology sector partners could come together to forge new solutions to the problems faced by people and communities living with a changing climate. We need the policy solutions, but while policymakers wrangle, the NetHope community has gotten to work helping people on the front lines.
One of the targets for this year’s COP was: “Delivering on Adaptation,” and in that capacity we met people from around the world who are pushing the evolution of the climate talks to be both global (mitigating greenhouse gas emissions) as well as local (how people will live with ongoing change).
Digital and data technologies are going to be integral to how we approach solutions for both people and planet. Earlier this year, NetHope conducted a review of the uses of digital technologies in supporting adaptation and resilience efforts in vulnerable communities from across the 65 Member-strong NetHope NGO community (who work in over 190 countries, serving 1.2 billion people) and some of our supporting partners. At this nexus, we found a range of innovations and ideas being advanced by the Member community: everything from data for anticipatory action in the face of extreme weather, advanced systems for monitoring drought and changes in food security conditions, new community-user-friendly climate advisory services and tools for farmers and others, and programs to train people in digital and other skills to find work in the emerging low-carbon economy.
A changing climate, however, can advance more quickly than efforts to adapt, which can jeopardize other gains in community economic and food security. In that respect, the policy breakthrough at COP in the new Loss and Damage Fund represents an important step, both for the work of NetHope Members, as well as the communities they serve. If climate change is set to threaten hard-won gains in food, family and economic security, and educational achievement, it means the work of Member organizations on behalf of people around the world will be also be threatened. Providing resources to prevent this regression is an important acknowledgement that people are at the heart of crises.
NetHope Members have been working to humanize these conversations and to insert vulnerable populations and communities, into the equation. They are doing this because climate change is affecting all the places where they work. We know from our survey results that in ways large and small, climate change plays a role in nearly all of their strategic plans.
Important alliances among the relief and development wing and the conservation wing of the NetHope community have been working for some time to forge consensus on the need to integrate the concerns of both vulnerable communities and biodiversity into a series of negotiations dominated by policy solutions weighted toward atmospheric carbon and renewable energy, and financing. In our Climate Intersections program, we are seeing the Member community innovating with digital, data, and partnership solutions focused on helping people in a changing climate.
Although we at NetHope are championing digital, data, and cross-sector partnerships, as well as collective impact solutions for people and places facing climate change, we also know that a changed climate in the worst-case scenarios will stretch all countries past the point of being able to adapt. At this year’s COP, one consensus seems to be: we have to stop talking about climate change as a future state when the change is obvious and is happening all around us. We need to be looking for the intersectional solutions today.
The NetHope community is working at this intersection to help mitigate where possible, to assist with adaptation, and to minimize suffering. While we wait for the policymakers to put the global solutions into place, we must be in action, using the power of digital technology and data to help the people who are on the front lines today, so that they can continue to help the people immediately impacted by crisis.
For more information about NetHope’s Climate Intersections initiative, please contact Tammy Gouldstone, our program lead, at email@example.com
Here is a sampling of the NetHope Member perspective on COP27: