January 24, 2023
Drawdown Science profile: Yusuf Jameel
This article is the third in a series introducing the members of Project Drawdown’s new science team. Yusuf Jameel joined Project Drawdown in 2021 as a research manager for Drawdown Lift. In January 2023 he transitioned to the Drawdown Science team as associate scientist, data science. A multidisciplinary scientist with experience in water resources, public health, data analytics, and science communication, he’s passionate about finding solutions to climate change and bridging the gap between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Yusuf obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Utah. Please welcome Yusuf as he shares his thoughts on growing up on the banks of the Ganges River, enhancing human well-being through the adoption of climate solutions, porcupine hair, and more. Q: When people ask you what you do with Project Drawdown, what do you tell them? A. As a member of the science team, I work on climate solutions using my experience in data analysis, especially on solutions that also address the food–energy–water nexus. I also work on translating the science in a way that makes it widely accessible. Q: Of all of the things you could be doing, why did you choose to join Project Drawdown? A: Project Drawdown is on a mission to actually address the biggest problem the world is facing today, climate change. I was really impressed by the book. It was the first to lay out that yes, we can address climate change—it's not just about gloom and doom, it’s also about opportunity. Project Drawdown addresses climate in a way that’s multidimensional, promotes the best science, addresses the different audiences, and passes the mic. That really motivates me. Q: What do you consider some of the biggest obstacles to implementing and scaling up climate solutions? A: First is unlocking the finance to fund climate solutions globally. We need capital from the private sector, from banks divesting from fossil fuels, and we need to invest in green solutions. Another challenge is politics. We need to think more altruistically. This is a global challenge requiring everyone to join hands, yet it has not been the case so far. The good news is, public perception is changing. Hopefully politics will change, and more capital will be funneled into climate solutions. Q: OK, time for a break. What’s your favorite food? A: I would go with my comfort food, and that’s biryani. It’s a big tradition in South Asian countries, and if you ask anyone in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, biryani is probably one of the top dishes. It’s not the healthiest dish, but it’s just so comforting. Q: I’m sure you have many, but can you tell us about one superpower you bring to this job? A: I’m a jack of all trades. Whether it’s high-level thinking, brainstorming ideas, or actually doing the work, I’m comfortable doing it all. I’m also adaptable. If a situation requires me to step up and take the lead I can, or I can step back and follow. Q: What's a childhood experience that relates to the work you're doing today? A: I grew up on the banks of the River Ganges. Every now and then there would be flooding. As a result, many people would go through an annual cycle of losing crops and be entrenched in a cycle of poverty, unable to get out. This had a profound effect on me. When I started reading about climate change and seeing flooding events become more and more intense, I recognized the need to address climate and development holistically. Q: What’s your favorite Drawdown Solution? A: There are so many of them! I really like Distributed Solar Photovoltaics and Reduced Food Waste, but my favorite is Clean Cooking. I think that solution can revolutionize the lives of billions of people in the world, especially young girls. It not only addresses climate but also vastly improves health, addresses gender equality, and opens up economic opportunities. If we can implement clean cooking and distributed solar, we’ll see huge changes in the lives of billions of people globally. Q: Time for another break. If you were a nonhuman animal, what animal would you be? A: As a kid I had short hair that was like vertical hair, as if I had had an electric shock. So many of my friends called me Porcupine. People would rub my hair all the time as it felt like velvet. Now I keep my hair long. Q: What gives you hope? A: I derive my hope from two things. First, we’re rapidly advancing technology—a lot of people from across the world are putting their effort into finding and implementing the best and most important solutions to address climate change. Second, when I was at COP27, I saw that young people are really leading the movement. That gives me hope that we can do meaningful work on this very important but challenging issue. Q: Anything else you’d like to share? A: I like nature. I especially like mountains. This is something I realized very late in life, maybe because I grew up in cities with very little nature around. When I moved to Utah, I started going to the mountains. I realized how peaceful and how nice it is, and I can’t not talk about it. As human societies are getting more urbanized, a lot of us, especially young people who live in large metropolises, are cut off from nature. And I hope they reconnect with nature. We need to appreciate nature and biodiversity much more than we do. Once it’s gone, it’s not coming back. We need to love it, respect it, and protect it.
October 17, 2022
Climate solutions and well-being in Africa and South Asia
In sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, climate mitigation solutions that boost human well-being, contribute to poverty alleviation, address inequities, and advance adaptation are at hand. This brief video offers a quick look how policymakers, decision-makers, and funders can harmonize policies and align funding to address both climate change and poverty together. To learn more, explore Drawdown Lift’s landmark report Climate–Poverty Connections: Opportunities for Synergistic solutions at the Intersection of Planetary and Human Well-Being.
November 7, 2022
Untapped potential: Climate solutions contribute to gender equality, well-being, and poverty alleviation
Interested in how climate change solutions contribute to gender equality and social inclusion, human well-being, poverty alleviation, adaptation, and planetary health? In this compelling video, Project Drawdown, CARE-WWF Alliance, Population Council, and Population Institute's FP/Earth Project provide valuable insights as part of a Planetary Health Alliance annual meeting side event discussion. Learn how important co-benefits can help advance the adoption of climate solutions, benefiting people and planet alike.
December 14, 2022
Drawdown Lift: The year in review
2022 was a busy year for Drawdown Lift, which focuses on promoting climate solutions that generate multiple benefits for poverty alleviation. From publishing a first-of-its-kind report to meeting with officials and civil society leaders and presenting at COP27, Drawdown Lift bridged important gaps between the climate and sustainable development fields. Here are the highlights. In March, the Drawdown Lift team published a landmark report, Climate–Poverty Connections: Opportunities for synergistic solutions at the intersection of planetary and human well-being. The report provides concrete evidence of how climate change solutions can contribute to alleviating multiple dimensions of poverty in rural communities in Africa and South Asia. The report highlights 28 climate solutions that leaders and practitioners in low- and middle-income countries can prioritize as they address climate impacts, advance sustainable development, and pursue renewable energy pathways. The report was presented to a wide range of climate experts and climate-focused development professionals representing climate finance institutions, multilateral and bilateral development institutions, philanthropies, impact investors, NGOs, and more. Officials, civil society leaders, and climate experts across the world lauded the usefulness and timeliness of the report. “The findings outlined in the report are really important to our work,” remarked Mikko Ollikainen, head of the UNFCCC’s Adaptation Fund, “as they delineate the interconnections between climate solutions, the improvements of livelihoods, and other benefits, and therefore advance the well-being of the communities that we serve.” Similarly, Moffatt Ngugi, natural resources officer with USAID/Mozambique and Lift Advisory Council member, commented that the report contains “integrated work that we all need to know about.” Monica Jain, lead evaluation specialist for the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) and former Lift Advisory Council member, noted that “this is a massive evidence review highlighting the co-benefits of climate mitigation solutions and human well-being. It can guide policymakers, funders, and researchers for future investments.” Following the report’s publication, the Drawdown Lift team embarked on a fast-paced (mostly virtual) tour promoting the findings and recommendations. Throughout the year, the team had more than 60 public and media engagements and wrote 20 articles and op-eds, in addition to producing a high-level analysis of Nationally Determined Contributions in eight African countries. Interviews and quotes from the team appeared in outlets such as Al Jazeera, Scientific American, The Revelator, The Drop, Atmos Magazine, and Tree Speech podcast, among others. Additionally, Drawdown Lift summarized the report in a short video that was screened during several presentations for climate professionals. The team also worked to ensure the results of Lift’s work are actionable for climate-focused public and private decision-makers. Drawdown Lift staff held approximately 40 meetings with external stakeholders, including the Adaptation Fund, Global Environment Facility, World Bank, USAID, Save the Children, the Gates Foundation, Stewart Investors, International Gender Champions, and many more. Through meetings and presentations, we continue to raise awareness for climate solutions that can help address the world’s climate and poverty crises simultaneously. These efforts culminated at COP27, where program staff and some Lift Advisory Council members presented at side events and met with key stakeholders, including ministry officials from Pakistan, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Uganda, and Tanzania as well as representatives from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the International Water Management Institute, and Arizona State University. Drawdown Lift director Kristen P. Patterson spoke on a panel hosted by the World Resources Institute titled “Fast-Action Mitigation to Slow Warming in this Decisive Decade.” The Lift team also organized a panel discussion at the Locally Led Adaptation pavilion. That event, “Triple impact: Prioritizing climate solutions that advance adaptation, mitigation, and poverty alleviation,” featured speakers from BRAC, One Acre Fund, Save the Children, and USAID. This year, Drawdown Lift also welcomed a new member of the team, Daniel Jasper, to serve as a policy advisor, and added new members to its Advisory Council: Rajib Ghosal (regional senior technical advisor, climate change, Save the Children, Asia-Pacific) and Cheikh Mbacké Faye (director, African Population and Health Research Center, West Africa Regional Office). As we look ahead to 2023, our ultimate objective remains clear—to convince the world that we don’t have to choose between addressing climate change and alleviating poverty. As Patterson says, “We must prioritize climate solutions that generate substantial benefits for well-being to boost equity and usher in prosperity for populations least responsible for the climate crisis in Africa and South Asia.” In the year ahead, we plan to host a number of high-level webinars, private convenings, and public events and will continue to share additional research on climate solutions that also alleviate poverty. We invite you to stay tuned for these events, articles, and much more via the Project Drawdown newsletter.
December 2, 2022
Carrying on the COP27 conversation
Three members of the Drawdown Lift team traveled to COP27 in November to represent Project Drawdown and promote climate solutions that generate tangible co-benefits for human well-being. Lift team members participated in and organized panel presentations; engaged with three Lift Advisory Council members, one Project Drawdown Board member, and multiple collaborating organizations; and met with leaders from several country delegations, including Bangladesh, Niger, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The team published three articles during and after COP27 that highlight different aspects of the conversations and key outcomes from the meeting, particularly around the topics of climate justice, gender equality, and loss and damage, all of which are relevant for Drawdown Lift's work. In “Project Drawdown: COP27 must answer calls for accelerated action and climate justice,” Drawdown Lift program coordinator Carissa Patrone Maikuri called for an end to “siloed thinking.” Instead, she wrote at Race to Resilience, we must “address multiple global crises together” with the well-being of people and planet front and center. “Beyond 8 billion: Focus on women, not population, for reproductive and climate justice,” centers the role of gender equity in climate solutions. “We need to turn away from dramatic headlines about the number of people on the planet and instead focus on the actual issue driving the continued rise of humans on Earth—a lack of rights, for women and girls in particular,” I wrote in the piece, which published at Race to Resilience on November 14, the day for which gender was the COP27 theme. “COP27: Balancing historic decisions and alarming shortcomings,” by Patrone Maikuri and Drawdown Lift research manager Yusuf Jameel, gave a shoutout to “a first small, yet symbolic, step” the international conference took to advance climate justice: creating a mechanism for paying for climate-related losses encumbered by countries most affected by, yet often least responsible for, climate change. I invite and encourage you to check out these thoughtful essays as you consider how you personally, and we as a society, might work to redress injustices while building a more secure future for ourselves and generations to come.
November 22, 2022
Seven key takeaway messages from COP27
Project Drawdown engaged with myriad colleagues and partner institutions from around the world at COP27. We are pleased to share these reflections from Drawdown Lift’s director, Kristen P. Patterson, who leads our work to prioritize climate change solutions that generate multiple benefits for boosting well-being, strengthening resilience, and contributing to poverty alleviation. The annual United Nations climate meeting wrapped up recently in Egypt. As we reflect upon the summit, I would like to share seven thoughts about #COP27, with an eye towards three topics that are critical for a just and equitable future for all—climate justice, gender equality, and emergency brake solutions. 1) Loss and damage - High income countries arrived at COP27 like my teenager with headphones on—clueless about what the rest of the world had been saying for months, namely that wealthy countries must set up a fund to deal with climate impacts like floods and droughts in low-and middle-income countries. The world hasn’t acted quickly enough on mitigation, nor on adaptation, so now we must add reparations to the mix. Major kudos to the negotiators, including government staff as well as NGO representatives, from developing countries who achieved this outcome. Yes, agreeing to create a fund (akin to the Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund) is just a first step. But it's an important one. 2) Women's leadership - We should all be in awe of Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's minister for climate change, who I was honored to have met briefly at COP27. She led a group of 134 (!) countries that negotiated the loss and damage outcome. Having more women in the halls of COP27 and at the negotiation table is critical. 3) Gender equality - We desperately need the skills of all women to solve the climate crisis—regardless of whether they are from rural or urban areas, or are rich or poor. Imagine if women had been more prominent in climate negotiations or held more leadership positions over the past three decades. As we mark the 8 billion milestone this month, full bodily autonomy, reproductive rights, and quality universal education are in fact key pillars of climate justice and adaptation; we can and should do more to integrate reproductive rights into climate. 4) Methane - Curbing methane—a fast-acting GHG that is responsible for nearly 45 percent of current net warming (0.5 C out of 1.1C)—is absolutely essential. We need to act decisively to reduce methane by 30% by 2030. By winning the sprint on methane, we give ourselves a bit more time to complete the marathon on other long-acting GHGs like carbon dioxide by 2050.
November 3, 2022
Supercharging National Climate Plans
Climate solutions and efforts to improve the well-being of people experiencing extreme poverty can—and must—be complementary. How can African countries use their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to chart a path forward that not only achieves low-carbon development and builds climate change resilience but also helps lift people out of extreme poverty? Project Drawdown’s landmark 2022 Climate-Poverty Connections report provides compelling evidence that 28 climate solutions (Figure 1) can simultaneously generate substantial human well-being benefits (Figure 2) for rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia; 26 of these 28 solutions are applicable for the countries in this analysis.
October 24, 2022
How climate solutions can also boost well-being
Did you know that climate mitigation solutions that contribute to increasing human well-being, alleviating extreme poverty, addressing inequities, and advancing adaptation are at hand? Building off of the key findings contained within its landmark 2022 Climate-Poverty Connections report, the Drawdown Lift program is excited to announce the official release of a new video—“Climate Solutions that Boost Human Well-Being in Africa and South Asia”—which illuminates various pathways for policymakers and decision-makers to harmonize policies and align funding to address climate change and poverty synergistically across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. With its release timed to coincide with International Day of Climate Action 2022, this new Project Drawdown video aims to inform, inspire, and engage influential leaders and institutions to advance policy discussions about climate solutions that can substantially contribute to socioeconomic development priorities and promote low-carbon pathways to growth. With the COP27 climate summit kicking off in Egypt in early November, the video also serves to more broadly expose high-level delegates from low- and middle-income countries in Africa and South Asia to Drawdown Lift’s research on the climate-poverty nexus and emphasizes the powerful role that climate mitigation solutions can play in improving quality of life in some of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries.
September 19, 2022
It’s time to advance climate change solutions and human well-being together
In the 50 years since the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment established the important link between the environment and poverty, we have seen remarkable action to protect the planet and improve people’s lives. Unfortunately, these efforts have often taken place independently of each other. Imagine how much more good we could do if the solutions being funded yielded benefits for both climate action and poverty alleviation, while boosting human well-being. Globally, public and private financing tend to focus on either climate action or improving human well-being—defined as people’s ability to access fundamental social, cultural, economic and natural/environmental resources critical for sustaining a decent living standard and living a life they value. However, addressing climate change without attention to human well-being threatens to cut back on years of development progress because of the impacts climate change has on human well-being. Those of us working to advance sustainable development are witnessing firsthand how rising temperatures, drought, flooding and extreme weather are rapidly rewinding hard-won progress in poverty eradication, human development and gender equality. For instance, heat waves and dry spells in Bangladesh are threatening natural resource–based rural livelihoods and creating economic insecurity, which can contribute to increased rates of child, early, and forced marriage and unions, speeding girls’ transitions to adulthood and ending their formal education. And In Malawi, where most people experience poverty and nearly one-third experience extreme poverty, climate change has exacerbated poverty, particularly for women, in recent decades as increasing temperatures and intense rain lead to both drought and flooding. Combined, these have resulted in shorter growing seasons, poor crop yields, food shortages, hunger and the spread of waterborne diseases. In addition, increasingly devastating seasonal flash floods disrupt learning for students as classrooms are used as shelters for displaced people. And intensified climate hazards often exacerbate child labor, especially for children from under-resourced families. We know that there are many readily available and financially viable technologies and practices that offer proven, substantial benefits not only for climate but also for livelihoods, health, food security, education, gender equality, and energy. Funders, philanthropies and decision-makers can help to ensure a brighter future for people and the planet by directing more financing to fund climate solutions that can also be transformational in alleviating poverty and increasing resilience, especially in frontline, climate-vulnerable countries and communities that have contributed the least to the climate crisis while being impacted the most.
September 6, 2022
Less hypocrisy and more investment: How COP27 can support African-led clean energy development
High-income countries can hardly expect African countries to forgo the use of their own natural resources without investment of US$70 billion a year to meet their renewable energy needs. For the adolescent girl in Guinea, Ethiopia, or Madagascar who has to miss school to collect firewood before breathing in acrid cooking smoke in an unventilated home, reliable energy access – including clean cooking – would transform her health, her future, and her entire life. Some 570 million people across Africa, including more than 80 percent of people in Niger, lack electricity access. Paradoxically, it is Europe’s energy crisis that is making headlines, prompting the EU to relax its definition of “green” energy, and Niger has responded by partnering with its neighbors to launch a long-envisioned natural gas pipeline across the Sahara to export gas to Europe. Read more at African Business