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Climate Resilience is Just as Important as Mitigation

Words by Nithin Coca
Leadership & Transparency
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New, multi-stakeholder efforts aim to develop innovative solutions to help build resilience to climate change for the world's most vulnerable populations.

Last week, I attended a panel on climate change with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and numerous other climate advocates from politics, science and media. We all know that the Pope finally spoke out forcefully on climate earlier this summer, but the Dalai Lama has been outspoken for some time, calling for global action on climate change

There was one theme that he, and other speakers, kept bringing up: We, the ones on the stage, in the audience and the majority of citizens in developed countries around the world, are the ones who caused the problem of climate change. But it is the poorest 3 billion around the world who will suffer the consequences, despite having a tiny carbon footprint.

TriplePundit frequently covers mitigation efforts by companies, citizens and governments to reduce their carbon footprints. That is good. But scientists are warning that, even in the best-case scenario, sea levels will rise, weather patterns will change, and millions living in low-lying regions like Bangladesh or coastal China will face the brunt of the impacts.

That is why news like this new partnership between the Rockefeller Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) is so important.

"The Global Resilience Challenge is a three-stage grant competition led by the Global Resilience Partnership, a $150 million effort ... to help the global community pivot from being reactive in the wake of disasters to driving evidence-based investments that allow communities to create smart plans that will minimize inevitable risks they face on the path to sustainable development, while enhancing the quality of everyday life."
Resilience means building the capacity of a community or region to withstand the negative impacts of climate change. It can range from measures to strengthen coastlines, manage water and runoff, or even restore ecosystems that provide beneficial environmental services.

Unlike traditional development efforts, the Global Resilience Challenge will focus on solutions devised by teams on the ground around the world.

“Innovative solutions have the potential to help communities, from Mali to Malaysia and Burkina Faso to Bangladesh, build resilience so that disruptions no longer become disasters, and communities are stronger day-to-day. We’re excited to see their bold solutions and explore how to implement them widely across each region,” said Dr. Zia Khan, vice president for initiatives and strategy at the Rockefeller Foundation.

Considering the massive population of high-risk regions – for example, the Bengal Delta, which could be entirely inundated, is home to nearly 200 million people -- $150 million is just a drop in the bucket. We need to push for more massive funds toward resilience and adaptation efforts globally. It is our responsibility, as we -- America, Europe, Japan and China -- are responsible for nearly all of the greenhouse gas emissions that will stay in the atmosphere for decades, if not centuries.

Companies, too, can play a role, and are around the world. Whether it is assisting in rebuilding hearty, coast-protecting mangroves plantations, in efforts to reduce water use, or in developing resilience-building technologies, there is a strong role that business can play in helping poorer countries and communities build resilience.

One of the key points that the Dalai Lama made during his talk is that we need compassion in order to build global action on climate change. Compassion for those who will suffer because of the mistakes that we, the privileged few, have made. Let's make resilience a priority right alongside mitigation and other efforts to prepare the planet for man-made climate change.

Image Source: Ravini

Nithin Coca

Nithin Coca is a freelance journalist who focuses on environmental, social, and economic issues around the world, with specific expertise in Southeast Asia.

Read more stories by Nithin Coca