By Jean-Louis Ecochard, Senior Director of The NetHope Center for the Digital Nonprofit, Global Head of Innovation
As COP28 unites global efforts to confront the pressing challenge of climate change prevention and adaptation, the imperative to leverage the potential of digital technologies for climate adaptation and resilience takes center stage. Amidst the pervasive impacts of climate change worldwide, it is crucial to recognize the heightened vulnerability of certain communities, particularly women, youth, and indigenous populations, many of whom NetHope Members work with. NetHope's Climate Intersections program leads the way, showcasing the transformative capacity of digital solutions in bolstering resilience to climate shocks, empowering nonprofits and communities through data and skill enhancement, and elevating the experience of marginalized groups often overlooked in climate dialogues.
COP28 provides a pivotal platform for collaboration between governments and civil society to establish partnerships for digital action. Together, our collective aim is to mold a future that not only prioritizes sustainability but also fortifies resilience in the face of evolving challenges through implementing digital solutions.
This aligns seamlessly with our innovative strategic approach. While the concept of the Digital Divide initially referred to the gap in access to the internet and related technologies, especially in less affluent economies, our present reality has evolved. With over 65% of the global population now having internet access, our international NGO Members, and the diverse communities and ecosystems they work with, are confronted with novel digital challenges that pose a threat to mission advancement and hinder progress toward the United Nations' 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
These emerging challenges, encapsulated as "The New Digital Divides," encompass critical gaps in digital skills, inclusion, protection, transformation, and now, crucially, climate adaptation. In the coming decade, NetHope, in collaboration with our Members, will spearhead collective action to bridge these divides. Leveraging our robust and proven model for advancing global good, we are committed to addressing these multifaceted challenges and driving positive change on a global scale.
Digital for Climate Adaptation & Resilience is a vital component of our new approach. Climate shocks are a series of crises layered on top of existing humanitarian and environmental challenges prompting a growing concern for our sector—both in the digital context and beyond. To foster a prepared and resilient NGO sector and the communities they work with, we must develop adaptive responses and integrated tools for the coming and contemporary effects of climate change.
As policymakers and institutions tackle how to mitigate the long-term challenges of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, we cannot ignore the immediate suffering of people in communities all over the world, the impact on food and water availability, and amplification of emergencies, whether they are in rich or poor countries. At NetHope, we firmly believe that by combining the expertise and knowledge of our Member community and tech partners, in partnership with governments, we can play a vital role in reducing or minimizing the negative effects of climate change.
Climate change poses a catastrophic threat that has the potential to undo decades of progress in humanitarian efforts. That is why it has become one of the top five priorities for us at NetHope, a priority shared by our dedicated humanitarian and conservation Members. In light of this, are proud to be a part of the Green Digital Action at COP28, which aims to enhance collaboration, fast-track industry-wide commitments to addressing climate challenges, and put digital solutions at the forefront of climate action.
While there is hope to mitigate the most disastrous impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable people, it can only be achieved if we come together and work collaboratively. This is why we partnering and collaborating with NetHope Members on the Climate Intersections Grant Program to pilot and accelerate digital solutions in climate adaptation and resilience.
The Climate Intersections Grant Program provides financing to multiple collective action climate projects that utilize digital technologies to upscale and to create an impact on the people and places where our humanitarian and conservation Members work.
The winning NetHope Member organizations this year were Islamic Relief Worldwide, Plan International Pilipinas Foundation Inc., and Wildlife Conservation Society! These organizations will each receive US$40,000 for their initiatives. We're gearing up for another round of grants in 2024.
As it appears that the journey towards a unified global approach to resolving the challenges of mitigating climate change will be much longer than expected, it is unfortunate that this will prolong human suffering the continued endurance of hardships from droughts, floods and climate-heightened emergencies. However, the NetHope community, consisting of dedicated first responders, development practitioners, and conservationists serving on aggregate more than 1.6 billion people in 190 countries, is committed to collaborating and exploring innovative ways to alleviate this suffering. By embracing digital advancements and leveraging data technologies creatively, we aim to make a positive difference. In view of this, we are actively engaging in initiating pilot projects with select NetHope partners and Members to explore technologies that assist communities in adapting to a dynamic world. Our ultimate goal is to expand the implementation of these technologies to a wider User base.
NetHope's engagement at COP28 signifies a momentous opportunity to underscore the pivotal role of digital technologies in mitigating the adverse effects of the climate crisis, particularly on women, youth, and marginalized communities. Our Climate Intersections program aligns seamlessly with COP28's overarching themes of technology and innovation, inclusion, frontline communities, and finance. In this context, we are actively seeking new collaborations and backing for anticipatory measures, skill enhancement, and climate equity initiatives.
Through our emphasis on the transformative impact of digital solutions in climate mitigation, adaptation, and building resilience, our objective is to diminish the impact of climate change on vulnerable populations, with a specific focus on women, youth, and indigenous people or disadvantaged communities. COP28 serves as a crucial global platform for us to spotlight our initiatives, garner support for positive climate action, and contribute to the collective efforts addressing the urgent challenges posed by climate change.
Recognizing that progress towards adapting to climate consequences and enhancing resilience is crucially needed, the COP27 Presidency presents the Sharm-El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda. This agenda portrays a total of 30 global adaptation outcome targets by 2030 that are urgently needed to increase the resilience of 4 billion people to accelerate transformation across five impact systems: food and agriculture, water and nature, coastal and oceans, human settlements and infrastructure, and includes enabling solutions for planning and finance. The Sharm-El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda will serve as aspirational adaptation outcomes for global adaptation action towards 2030, and to inform state and non-state adaptation agendas. The 30 global adaptation outcome targets will continue to be enhanced and refined based on scientific results
At NetHope we recognize the crucial role of the Sharm-el-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda, the role of digital advanced through the Green Digital Action for COP28, and the need to include financing of digital solutions. With expertise in digital technologies and a focus on vulnerable populations, NetHope will offer unique insights from the perspective of civil society and digital solutions. Whether through presenting on the pillars of anticipatory action, upskilling, climate equity, or participating in existing panels, NetHope aims to showcase the transformative potential of technology in addressing climate challenges.
We are looking forward to participating in COP28 and contributing to the global dialogue on climate change solutions. The three person-delegation that will represent us at the conference include NetHope CEO, Lance Pierce; Global Head of Innovation, Senior Director for NetHope's Center for the Digital Nonprofit, Jean-Louis Ecochard; and Climate Intersection Lead, Gidraf Wachira.
By leveraging technology and innovation, we can collectively advance climate solutions and create a more sustainable future for all.
I, for one, am excited and cautiously optimistic about the possibilities – but we must ensure that we harness AI equitably, ethically, and safely.
NetHope has launched its 2024-2030 strategy. A generation ago, the Digital Divide described the gap in access first to computers, and then to the internet and essential technologies. But today, new digital challenges threaten international NGO mission advancement as organizations are forced to grapple with the widening gap between available resources and growing needs. These new challenges – what NetHope calls the new Digital Divides – represent critical gaps in infrastructure, systems, capabilities, and knowledge. Over the next decade, will lead collective action to bridge the New Digital Divides – skills and leadership, inclusion, protection, transformation and innovation, and climate adaptation and resilience - leveraging our powerful, proven model for advance global good.
Bridging the New Digital Divides Spotlight: Digital for Climate Adaptation and Resilience
Climate change is a crisis that underpins many of the challenges and growing needs facing our sector – both in the digital context and beyond. To foster a prepared and resilient NGO sector, we must develop adaptive responses and integrated tools for the coming and contemporary effects of climate change. NetHope will draw on the full might of our convening, grantmaking, accelerating and catalyzing power to scale effective digitally- powered responses to climate-related challenges across our sector and especially for women, youth, indigenous people, and disenfranchised communities.
Program Spotlight: Climate Intersections Program
NetHope launched its first climate program, with the generous support of Cisco. Our mission is to leverage the reach of the NetHope community via digital, data and partnerships to help more people thrive in the face of climate change. NetHope humanitarian and conservation NGO Members and their ecosystems, thematic programs, local and marginalized communities and NetHope tech partners are the core of Climate Intersections program. We believe that collective action is the way to fight this climate crisis. Sharing resources and finding digital solutions together is not something new for NetHope Members.
Learn more about NetHope and how to get involved in our work.