As the world turns its attention to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) in Paris, the global community is hoping for fresh ideas to solve our increasing climate-related challenges. We know that climate accelerates and complicates almost every other problem—from food insecurity and water scarcity, to sectarian conflicts and refugee crises around the world.
Facing this kind of crucible, standard mitigation and adaptation approaches will fall far short of the sea-change we need.
In this increasingly interconnected world, only real and lasting resilience—achieved by way of innovative, systems-deep approaches—will allow us to solve for multiple problems at once, both now and on into the future.
Here are seven potentially game-changing trends we believe will be the next frontier of climate resilience:
One of the great challenges for cities and other principalities is a persistent global funding gap for tools to meet pressing challenges. There’s a huge and largely untapped opportunity to use new financing mechanisms: Blended investments, for example, like catastrophe bonds—through which investors get their money back, plus interest, if certain social scenarios are met—can help pay the annual $200-300 billion needed to help countries combat climate change shocks.
Cities—the crucial nexus of challenges related to climate and population—are in many ways the point of the spear in the world’s work to combat climate change. We’re urging mayors to make the most ambitious commitment to city resilience in history, promising 10 percent of their city’s annual budget toward resilience-building goals and projects, without raising additional funds or taxes.
If current food production trends continue, feeding the population of the future will require a 70 percent increase in agricultural yield and $83 billion of annual agriculture investments in developing countries. At the same time, roughly a third of the world’s agriculture is lost post-harvest. We’re working to connect smallholder farmers to new markets, as well as to the hundreds of existing technologies and financing solutions already available to help them maximize their profits and get more food to the people who need it.
An estimated 250,000 lives are lost every year to climate-related ailments. We can decrease this shameful number by shifting the global health framework to include the natural systems upon which human health depends.
By 2030, global water demand is expected to exceed current supply by 40 percent. Teams are working right now to convene government authorities, water experts, and roadside communities to introduce innovative designs and improved guidelines to harvest rainwater, prevent soil erosion, and improve use of roadside land.
Around the world, 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity, often living without even basic lighting, hindering the potential for economic growth. And, often, what little electricity these communities receive is generated by environmentally harmful diesel energy. We can decrease diesel use in rural areas—and bring new, livelihood-enhancing sources of electricity—by investing in market-driven clean energy plants that benefit the economy and the environment.
Too many urban areas have recently been devastated by climate-linked flooding and other harmful weather events. And it’s often the very poorest of the poor who live in the most hazard-prone areas, putting them at the greatest risk for a range of threats. We’re generating knowledge and platforms to equip national governments, multilateral donors, and the private sector to prioritize investments—like early warning systems and storm and flood resistant credit—that advance climate resilience.