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
In pursuit of a just and equitable future for all: 7 key takeaways 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
Drawdown Lift’s latest video explores 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
June 22, 2022
Key takeaways from Drawdown Lift’s Climate–Poverty Connections webinar series
Drawdown Lift recently hosted a two-part webinar series in which 10 global experts explored how technologies and practices that mitigate climate change can contribute to boosting human well-being and alleviating poverty as evidenced in the Climate–Poverty Connections report. Check out these key takeaways: 28 of Project Drawdown’s currently available, financially viable climate solutions not only have proven potential to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but also provide clear co-benefits for human well-being for rural and underserved communities in Africa and South Asia. This means we have a remarkable opportunity to align strategies, funding, and policies to simultaneously reduce climate threats, alleviate poverty, and boost human well-being. Investments in low-carbon development must prioritize countries that are first and worst impacted by climate change—particularly low- and middle-income countries. Human well-being co-benefits from the 28 Project Drawdown climate solutions are particularly strong in the dimensions of Income and Work, Health, Food, Education, Gender Equality, and Energy. World Bank economists estimate that Improving Agriculture and Agroforestry is 11 times more effective at reducing extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa than investments in other sectors. Providing Clean Electricity is crucial to improving human well-being: People who live in communities with limited access to electricity also tend to experience high food insecurity, lack access to improved water and sanitation, lack access to income and work, and endure disproportionate health burdens. Adopting Clean Cooking could prevent more than 22.5 million premature deaths between 2000 and 2100. Women’s and Indigenous peoples’ secure land tenure are imperative when Protecting and Restoring Ecosystems; more than 1 billion people experiencing extreme poverty depend on forests to meet their basic needs for housing, water, and fuel, as well as their primary source of income. Fostering Equality, which includes Project Drawdown’s Family Planning and Education solution, encompasses rights-based, voluntary family planning and high-quality education, yields co-benefits for all 12 dimensions in the Drawdown Lift Human Well-being Index, more than any of the other five climate solutions groups analyzed in Drawdown Lift’s new Climate–Poverty Connections report. Family planning—ensuring everyone’s contraceptive needs are met in a way that centers rights and bodily autonomy—is not in itself a climate mitigation strategy. Rather, one outcome of family planning, slower population growth, is a climate solution.
March 31, 2022
New Drawdown Lift report: Advancing climate solutions can help alleviate extreme poverty
Addressing climate change and improving the well-being of millions of people experiencing extreme poverty—two grand challenges of the 21st century—can be done together and create critical co-benefits for socially disadvantaged groups in rural areas of low- and middle-income countries, according to a new landmark report released today by Drawdown Lift, a program of the global nonprofit Project Drawdown. The report, titled Climate–Poverty Connections: Opportunities for synergistic solutions at the intersection of planetary and human well-being, focuses specifically on climate solutions and poverty alleviation in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia—two areas of the world most at risk from the threats of climate change. This first-of-its-kind analysis reveals many ways in which specific technologies and practices that offer proven, substantial benefits for addressing climate change also improve multiple aspects of human well-being—particularly people’s livelihoods, health, food security, education, gender equality, and more. Widespread implementation of these solutions would be transformational in alleviating poverty and increasing resilience to current and future climate change. According to a World Bank report, in the next decade, climate change could push an additional 100 million people into poverty in low- and middle-income countries, setting back decades of progress in poverty alleviation—a situation the pandemic has made even more dire. "We have an opportunity to elevate climate solutions that also boost human well-being and contribute to much-needed socioeconomic development,” said Kristen P. Patterson, director of Drawdown Lift. “Populations experiencing extreme poverty did not cause the climate crisis. It is incumbent upon decisionmakers to strategically invest in climate solutions that help usher in equity and prosperity, and achieve the SDGs.” The report guides leaders and stakeholders—including international and country-level climate and development policymakers, the climate finance community, donors, and NGOs—toward the dual goals of investing in low-carbon development pathways and reducing poverty. "In developing countries globally, efforts to promote climate action will undoubtedly be intertwined with aspirations for economic growth. This report sheds light on policy options and approaches for harnessing this opportunity to deliver human well-being benefits in the race to net-zero," said Mohamed Imam Bakarr, senior environmental specialist at Global Environment Facility and a Drawdown Lift Advisory Council member. The report, which builds on Project Drawdown’s groundbreaking climate solutions research, draws on a review of 450 articles and reports (through 2021) to synthesize the evidence of how climate interventions that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions can also generate substantial co-benefits for human well-being. It was reviewed by a dozen experts in agriculture, gender, international development, education, conservation, climate, health, and other areas. The report’s findings have the potential to improve the lives of millions of people around the world—particularly girls and women—if the recommendations are implemented. "If you’re telling a rural woman to cease using dirty fuels for cooking, know that poverty is the reason she is using them. Climate solutions must be holistic to ensure sustainability. This report presents strategies for solving the climate challenge that address intertwined human needs," said Glory Oguegbu, founder and CEO of the Renewable Energy Technology Training Institute and a Drawdown Lift Advisory Council member. Downloads Download the full report | Download the abbreviated fact sheet Media Contacts Todd Reubold, Director of Marketing and Communications, Project Drawdown Kristen P. Patterson, Director, Drawdown Lift, Project Drawdown About Drawdown Lift Launched in early 2021, Drawdown Lift works to deepen collective understanding of the links between climate change solutions and poverty alleviation, particularly in low- and middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The Lift team seeks to help address both extreme poverty and climate change by collaboratively identifying, promoting, and advancing solutions designed to catalyze positive, equitable change. About Project Drawdown Project Drawdown is a nonprofit organization that seeks to help the world reach “drawdown”—the future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline. Cities, universities, corporations, philanthropies, policymakers, communities, educators, activists, and more turn to Project Drawdown as they look to advance effective climate action. Project Drawdown aims to support the growing constellation of efforts to move climate solutions forward and move the world toward drawdown—as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Project Drawdown is funded by individual and institutional donations.
December 14, 2021
Collaboration for climate action—insights from the inaugural Drawdown Lift Advisory Council
The inaugural Drawdown Lift Advisory Council is made up of 15 members who shape, guide, and inform Drawdown Lift’s research on the links between climate change solutions, poverty alleviation, and human well-being—particularly in emerging economies in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Council members include innovative and talented academic researchers, thought leaders, advocates, and development practitioners who have a variety of topic-area expertise and a passion for working in a multidisciplinary manner to address the world’s dual equity and climate crises. Collectively, Council members working in 11 different countries offer insights about: food security and nutrition conservation and natural resource management gender women’s health girls’ education sustainable energy the demographic dividend reproductive health planetary health poverty alleviation and development economics and climate resilience Here, three new Council members—Christina Kwauk, Glory Oguegbu, and Ndola Prata—share thoughts on bridging the gap through collaboration and innovation, collective and individual reach, and embracing the complexity of working together to address climate change. While working to advance climate solutions and research, Council members will apply their diverse expertise to forward climate work that is intersectional and challenges various systems of oppression. For example, examining how climate action is financed—and how the impact of such action is measured—not only informs programming and action on the ground, but also lifts up the need for a better understanding of how various global systems can advance climate solutions that provide cascading benefits while addressing barriers to climate action and resilience. “One of the things that drew me to the Drawdown Lift Advisory Council,” says education leader Christina Kwauk, “is that this sort of effort between such diverse sectors really reflects the kind of cross-sectoral, holistic, systemic work that needs to happen for the kinds of social transformations—even before many technical changes—we’d like to see.” Part of the Council’s collaborative action encourages better policies and support for communities who have been (and continue to be) the most impacted by climate change, particularly rural communities in low- and middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Award-winning development entrepreneur and youth advocate Glory Oguegbu says that the Council’s work encourages “better decisions that are informed.” She emphasizes that this sort of informed decision-making translates to better policies that incorporate real-world climate impacts on communities and changing climate trends as part of the whole. Bridging the gap Only through collaboration and collective action can climate stakeholders bridge glaring gaps and support the world in reaching “drawdown”—the point in the future when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline, thereby stopping catastrophic climate change. Drawdown Lift Council members share knowledge and best practices to establish better avenues for collaboration, exciting new opportunities, and stronger networks for future action. An important goal of this collaborative climate work is to foster a deeper level of system self-awareness and bridge-building to address misconceptions and foster healthier systems that work for everyone, everywhere. Encouraging governments, donors, and philanthropies to fund and finance action in intersectional ways helps foster climate action that addresses problems that communities are facing today. For example, programs focused on agriculture can more deeply examine the intersections between population, health, and education within their work, and partner with folks that value holistic action. Collective and individual power Individual and collective action must go hand-in-hand—everyone has a role to play when it comes to climate solutions. Ndola Prata, public health physician and academic thought leader, says that despite being an expert in one area, she can make her role “more impactful if we synergize with other disciplines and collaborate together.” By working together across disciplines, she says, groups can achieve more ambitious goals that make better sense to more people. When thinking about achieving climate and planetary health solutions, stakeholders must be mindful about how they choose to magnify a solution or action. For example, as a collective, the Drawdown Lift Advisory Council can forward rights-based action and research through the lens of women and girls as climate leaders and solutionists—especially when they have equitable access to high-quality education, sexual and reproductive health and rights, land tenure, and decision-making. Council members can contextualize and promote the most relevant climate information for their communities, sharing tools that foster a deeper understanding of current and local climate impacts, and ways to forward solutions that prioritize long-term climate-resilience. Oguegbu says, when starting her journey as a climate advocate, she was “confused a lot of the times when I was reading about climate change, because many of the things that I saw did not apply to me as a Nigerian living in this part of the world.” Hearing about declining polar bear populations, extinctions, and melting ice didn’t resonate. “So,” she says, “I tried to think about how I could promote climate change to the people in my country because they couldn't understand this—I began to study ways that climate change affected me.” Embracing challenges and complexity together Climate change—one of the most complex challenges of our lifetime—will continue to negatively impact every sector and community on Earth without collective action. Prata would like to “open up, quite a bit, the perspective on how to look at these issues—not to shy away because ‘it’s too complex for us to tackle’ but to appreciate the complexity” of working together to implement numerous climate solutions. When a diverse group of climate actors from a variety of disciplines work together, opportunities to influence, listen to, and include future generations of climate professionals multiply. COP26, the 2021 UN Climate Conference, showed the world how modern climate work often fails to address disproportionate impacts and highlight stark inequities within resource allocation. “If we’re talking about the need to address poverty, underlying structures of inequity, systems of oppression, and so on,” says Kwauk, education expert, “then we need to bring together diverse actors working on little pieces of those very complex problems.” It’s the way to create opportunities for people to achieve a higher quality of life and reach their full potential, no matter who they are or where they live. Drawdown Lift’s inaugural Advisory Council will continue to embrace the challenges of systemic, holistic, and multidisciplinary climate action—and the complexity that comes along with it—as a way to advance long-lasting, relevant, and equitable solutions for a safer future.
November 7, 2021
Opinion: The link between girls’ basic human rights and long-term resilience to climate shocks
This article originally appeared on Race to Zero's website. Please read Drawdown Lift's latest brief—"Girls' Education and Family Planning"—for more information. People around the world are anxiously waiting for crucial COP26 commitments to materialize that will engender the generational change that people and our planet desperately need. We’re also seeing glimmers of hope emerging from the rise of powerful voices of young people and Indigenous community leaders. Again and again throughout our lives, we have been inspired by women from around the world who have too often been pushed to the margins of climate discussions. Oftentimes, these are the people most impacted by climate change and deserve a global platform for demanding action. Securing gender equality and women’s full representation in vital negotiations about humanity’s future—like those happening at COP26—rely on fulfilling girls’ basic human rights. Some of those rights, such as a quality education and full bodily autonomy (including access to high-quality family planning and the ability to decide whether, when, with whom, and how many children to have), when secured, unleash immediate and enduring cascading benefits for human health and well-being across girls’ and women’s lifespans. It’s time to recognize that they also contribute to long-term climate adaptation and resilience to climate shocks and stressors. Removing barriers to sexual and reproductive health services and to girls’ education are essential to accelerating climate adaptation and resilience. And yet, national climate plans and climate funding mechanisms don’t yet recognize and resource efforts to fund family planning and girls’ education as part of holistic approaches to adaptation and building resilience. Project Drawdown is pleased to release a new policy brief, “Girls’ Education and Family Planning: Essential Components of Climate Adaptation and Resilience,” which makes the case for prioritizing family planning and girls’ education as effective long-term climate adaptation strategies. Both should be carefully integrated into climate deliberations, funding priorities, and country-level actions. We encourage you to download and explore the brief to learn more about incorporating girls’ education and family planning in climate adaptation and resilience, utilizing these strategies to help address women and girls’ distinct vulnerabilities, and compelling reasons for prioritizing girls’ education and family planning within national climate adaptation strategies and UNFCCC processes. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), MSI Reproductive Choices, and the Margaret Pyke Trust are co-hosting a high-level hybrid event Monday November 8 from 12:30–1:30 GMT at the Scottish Events Campus (Blue Zone) Shared Pavilion: Hall 4 # PV67, titled, “Removing barriers to health and education: An essential climate adaptation and resilience strategy.” In order to engage people around the world on this topic, the free event will be livestreamed (register here) and open to everyone—not just COP26 delegates. Speakers will include Ministers from Burkina Faso and Denmark along with panelists from Finland, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan, and more. The event will highlight evidence and examples of how climate change affects women and girls, and the importance of reproductive choice and girls’ education in adaptation efforts and resilience building. Practitioners working at the nexus of sexual and reproductive health and rights and climate will also share best-practice recommendations and strategies—please join us in listening and learning about how to better support women and girls around the globe for a safer, more equitable future.