Uniting global communities through microfinance and education to support climate change adaptation, mitigation and monitoring efforts.
Against the background of rapid urbanization, our society has altered the environment to an unprecedented extent. An expanding population has demanded increasing resources for energy, agriculture, and mobility, and little has stood in the way of this "progress".
Climate change is larger than any single country, government, or society and it will therefore require global collaboration to support adaptation and mitigation efforts. However, finding concensus among these entities is challenging, and top-down measures for climate change mitigation have thus far been largely ineffective at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Further, while wealthy nations are generally responsible for a larger per-capita percentage of GHG emissions, it is the citizens of poorer countries who will likely feel the effects of climate change to a greater extent. This is due to economic constraints that limit how much individuals can adapt, as well as to increased extreme weather events in certain developing nations. Even in the impossible scenario that GHG emissions do not increase further, there are many countries that will be negatively affected by environmental changes, and we are only just beginning to understand these dynamics. There is still much to be learned about how climate change will impact ecosystems and society.
Here, we propose a different approach to climate change adaptation and mitigation, via a multi-tiered, bottom-up strategy. Through concurrent education and microfinancing, we will support opportunities that are focused on climate change adaptation for citizens of developing countries. Adaptation meaures, working in concert with on-the-ground scientific monitoring, will expand our understanding of climate change and its impacts. This unique strategy will promote projects that aim to reduce factors that cause climate change, encourage strategies for adaptation, and foster collaborations between scientists and local people on climate change monitoring and assessment.
Category of the action
What actions do you propose?
Many of the same countries bearing the brunt of climate change are countries that are already experiencing the stresses of overpopulation, poverty and over utilized natural resources. Other organizations and government agencies have attempted to address some of these issues individually, with limited success. Our proposal incorporates strategies designed to effectively tackle them simultaneously, while also developing monitoring techniques that will enable researchers to better understand the myriad complexities of climate change. A diffuse network of field sites will enable parallel interactions among residents of developing nations and coordinators in developed nations.
We will establish a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose sole purpose will be to provide microloans to citizens of developing nations undertaking specific material projects related to climate change mitigation, adaptation and/or monitoring. After establishing a foundation of informational materials and a network of interested parties, we will solicit applications for microloans from individuals of a developing nation. All participants and projects will be fully operated locally and funding will be open to individuals or small groups. This will encourage numerous, small-scale opportunities.
While other organizations have began to incorporate climate change adaptation into their existing framework of microfinance, this organization's only purpose will be to support adaptation and monitoring efforts. Providing a variety of assistance opportunities to people in developing nations can be helpful, but with a strict focus our organization will serve the dual role of aiding those in need while working towards the greater goal of adaptation.
Perhaps the most unique feature is the scientific monitoring that will take place through collaboration between locals and the scientific community. Tapping into local spatial and cultural practices, researchers can access long-term information about regions that would otherwise be entirely unavailable. At this point many researchers depend on large-scale information to understand what is happening in remote corners of the globe. Engaging people on the ground, who are familiar with the inner workings of their region, will provide a tremendous boon to the field of climate science. These abductive feedback mechanisms will enable further collaboration as we utilize this information to develop adaptation infrastructure and techniques that are tailored to specific areas and their needs. It is only through examination of experiences over years that we can truly see how things have changed. And it is only by working with residents that we can access this knowledge base.
-Mitigation/Adaptation Potential. To what extent does this project directly address climate change mitigation or adaptation?
-Feasibility of the Project. How likely is it that this project can be seen through to completion?
-Qualifications of Applicants. Are the individuals capable of completing the project? (Note: education and limited assistance can be provided for proposals with great ideas when individuals are lacking the needed skillset).
-Timeline to Completion. Projects that can ensure demonstrative results within 24-months or less will be favored. This will motivate action and will synchronize with the framework of seasonal monitoring.
-Interest in Monitoring. An ongoing feature of this work will be matching scientists and researchers with local individuals who can serve as field assistants. Our knowledge of ecosystems within developing countries is far less than that of developed countries. Developing countries are also regions of rapid biodiversity loss. Strong, biodiverse ecosystems are far more resistant and resilient to weather extremes and climate change than disturbed areas and conservation of these areas is critical to climate change mitigation.
We recognize that interested individuals may lack the knowledge or skills necessary to participate. To encourage participation by as many people as possible, we will provide the necessary tools to educate people about climate change and will make available resources to help get strong projects started. These tools will include in-person training and online educational materials related to climate change, mitigation and adaptation, as well as to a database of employment opportunities and ideas. Participants will also have access to our knowledgeable staff that will work with individuals on each stage of project development and proposal submission.
Monitoring will be two-fold. Climate monitoring and assessment will be ongoing. This will be mutually beneficial to locals and the scientific community. Monitoring techniques will also used to assess performance of projects. Benchmarks will be established from initial starting points and progress towards adapation will be measured from there.
We anticipate that the majority of investors in these projects will be from wealthy, developed nations. The disparate lifestyles and experiences of investors and low-income entrepreneurs, particularly surrounding climate change adaptation, will be an important aspect of this organization. We expect exchanges between the two groups, facilitated by the organization, which would inform and enlighten the other. Through their investment, the backer becomes educated about the conditions of those most affected by climate change and will also learn of the on-the-ground measures being taken to alleviate hardships caused by environmental changes. On the other side, the entrepreneur has the opportunity to share their situation and successes. This exchange is more powerful than the usual nameless, faceless climate change dialogue that often consists largely of facts and figures.
We acknowledge that the distinction of "developing" and "developed" nations is political, while the effects of climate change are apolitical and boundaryless. Therefore we use the term developing as a starting point and propose to inclusively work with individuals within a given ecosystem that likely transcends those political boundaries.
Who will take these actions?
Organization founder, Elizabeth Ellwood, PhD, has extensive experience in understanding the effects of climate change on plants and animals. She is a leading expert in phenological research and has a broad baskground in researching, analyzing and publishing on the topic. She also brings a Master's degree in Teaching and Learning and years of teaching experience ranging from elementary school through college. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow investigating climate change in Japan and will return to Boston for the Fall semester to continue teaching coursework in Climate Change.
She will lead the project with consultancy from financial advisors and creative experts in sustainable development in developing nations.
Where will these actions be taken?
The organization will maintain headquarters in Boston, MA. After extensive research and networking, field sites will be established at location in developing countries. Field sites will be selected based on the impact of climate change on the region (actual or as predicted for the near-term future), needs of citizens, and the respective degrees of poverty, resource depletion and biodiversity loss. Additional field sites will be created as the organization grows and resources are available.
What are other key benefits?
CONSERVATION: Protecting areas of ecological importance is a critical part of climate change adaptation. Maintaining biodiverse areas will provide ecosystem services for human communities, will help keep local weather in check, and will provide habitat for plants and animals.
SCIENTIFIC ADVANCEMENT: It will require a global effort to understand the phenomenon of climate change and academically-trained researchers from developed countries are limited in how much ground they can cover. Yet researchers working together with locals who are familiar with and knowledgable about a given region, would exponentially increase our base of scientific knowledge.
EDUCATION: Citizens of developing nations may recognize that their environment is changing, but might not be aware that some of the change may be due to climate change. Similarly, citizens of developed nations may not be aware of the extent of change already taking place in other parts of the world.
What are the proposal’s costs?
After initial start-up costs (outlined below), the organization will be self-sufficient and capable of maintaining and even expanding its operations.
Initial costs: $50,000 for development of educational materials, travel to field sites, and establishment of microloan programs. An additional $20,000 will be needed to secure assistance and programming at field sites.
Jaunary - April 2014: Create educational materials and establish internet presence. Initiate collaborations with universities and non-governmental organizations in particular developing countries with the intent of working together to understand the effects of climate change and specific needs of the region. Scientists from developing nations will be engaged for collaboration as well.
May 2014 - September 2014: Travel to six potential field sites and assess the viability of each.
October 2014 - December 2014: Begin recruiting entrepreneurs and investors. Provide assistance and work with entrepreneurs to develop strong proposals.
January 2015 - Ongoing. Facilitate collaborations among investors, entrepreneurs, and scientists. Disseminate the findings of our efforts. Organize an annual conference and symposia to share our results and learn about what others are doing in similar fields. Seek additional field sites for expansion.