November 3, 2022
People in colorful clothing standing under trees near a solar panel
Supercharging National Climate Plans
by Drawdown Lift
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.
Read more
October 24, 2022
poverty-climate connections
How climate solutions can also boost well-being
by Drawdown Lift
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.
Read more
September 19, 2022
Family planning gathering in Malawi
It’s time to advance climate change solutions and human well-being together
by Debbie Aung Din, Christina Kwauk, and Abiba Longwe
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.
Read more
September 6, 2022
solar panels in Rwanda
Less hypocrisy and more investment: How COP27 can support African-led clean energy development
by Kristen P. Patterson
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
Read more
June 22, 2022
Key takeaways from Drawdown Lift’s Climate–Poverty Connections webinar series
by Carissa Patrone Maikuri
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.
Read more
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.
Read more
December 14, 2021
Insights from the first Drawdown Lift Advisory Council
by Christina Kwauk, Glory Oguegbu, Ndola Prata, and Carissa Patrone (Drawdown Lift)
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.   
Read more
November 7, 2021
The link between girls’ basic human rights and long-term resilience to climate shocks
by Kristen P. Patterson and Carissa Patrone
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.
Read more
September 22, 2021
Desperate for hope?
by Yusuf Jameel, Carissa Patrone, and Kristen P. Patterson
This article originally appeared on New Security Beat. If raging wildfires, extreme drought, and superstorms haven’t made it clear, the latest IPCC report tells us in plain language: the world is poised for worsening climate impacts over the next 30 years. The report’s release—during an unprecedented pandemic and natural disasters that magnify the connections between climate, health, livelihoods, and human well-being—is a grim reminder of the fragility of life on Earth. There is hope, however: the winding links between climate, health, and well-being also present tremendous opportunities. What if, collectively, thought leaders, negotiators, practitioners, and policymakers in the climate, health, business, and international development communities could do a better job of advancing solutions that address these crises simultaneously? When climate, poverty alleviation, and human well-being are addressed together, a vision of a better future emerges like a beacon in the night. Leaders from high-income countries—the source of most global emissions to date—reacted to the IPCC report with talk of bold actions, better collective efforts, and a renewed commitment toward decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to cleaner energy. At the same time, low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) and island nations—all of which are extremely vulnerable to climate change—continue to demand compensation, support, and rapid reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from industrialized nations. Last month, Muhammad Nasheed (ex-president of Maldives) said that the world should not forget “the fundamental injustice at the heart of this emergency.” Given that LMICs are the most severely impacted by climate change—a scenario for which they are not responsible—it is important to ask how advocates ranging from youth leaders to government policymakers can build bridges that address climate change and the injustice of the climate emergency together. People and institutions have historically avoided linking climate solutions and human well-being, but understanding how climate change compounds the risks facing the world’s most vulnerable populations is critical to understanding where the solutions lie. Recognizing this, Drawdown Lift—a program of our nonprofit Project Drawdown—was launched to identify and elevate “win-win” opportunities where initiatives and policies are making that critical connection. For more than three billion people—about half of the global population living in emerging economies—tackling climate change has become synonymous with addressing human rights, justice, and equity. Centering basic human needs Projections show climate change impacts to people in LMICs will be incredibly severe—hundreds of millions more people will experience poverty and food shortages, while nearly two billion people could face water shortages. Given emerging economies’ extensive reliance on natural resources and the environment for economic productivity, the GDP of some countries, like Madagascar, Nigeria, and Bangladesh, could shrink by more than 10 percent in the face of climate change. Lacking access to vital resources (including technology and finance), LMICs are already struggling to protect themselves from climate impacts that are likely to intensify.  Upholding and protecting basic human needs must remain at the heart of all climate justice work. One year after cyclone Ida hit Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, tens of thousands were still without access to basic sanitation, adequate shelter, food, and healthcare. Unfortunately, the effects of climate change extend beyond the shock of extreme weather events. Deteriorating human well-being due to climate impacts often leads to more environmental damage. In the Sundarbans of India and Bangladesh—one of the largest mangrove forests in the world—frequent superstorms led to a decrease in agricultural lands due to crop destruction and loss of property. More than 70 percent of people there live below the poverty line and access to health care, clean water and sanitation, electricity, education, and food is limited. Frequent job losses have led to rapid deforestation as people resort to selling timber that can fetch high prices. Due to ongoing destruction of life-saving, carbon-storing mangrove forests by cyclones and timber harvesting, the Bengal Basin—–one of the most densely populated regions in the world—–has become even more vulnerable to powerful storms. Hard-won Hope Despite continuous global climate injustices and heartbreaking facts and figures, the IPCC report presents a ray of hope. Through coordinated efforts and cooperation, we can stabilize the global temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. But this isn’t possible without climate-informed solutions that also meet the essential human needs of the approximately half of the global population that live in LMICs. If emerging economies aren’t supported in their efforts to pursue climate-smart development pathways, they will resort to building and maintaining electricity and transportation systems that rely on fossil fuels. Unless significant financial and technological impetus is provided to the renewable energy sector, most of the new electricity generation in Africa by 2030 will be fossil fuel based which will hinder achieving drawdown. Both the population and economy of Africa is projected to grow at the fastest rate of any region in the coming decades. Access to energy is a fundamental right of all people, and it is the responsibility of historical carbon emitters to support emerging economies in deploying clean energy to meet their fundamental human needs, grow their economies, and boost the health of their populations. Climate and poverty alleviation champions, local community members and experts worldwide must hold their leaders accountable—across the private sector, government, business, and NGO communities—for ensuring that LMICs have the resources needed to adapt to extreme weather while also implementing climate solutions as quickly as possible. To the high-income nations that agreed to provide $100 billion in annual funding to LMICs in support of clean energy and climate adaptation—where is the money? We should all feel the urgency to support communities bearing the brunt of climate impacts—both in our neighborhoods and across our global community. It’s time to integrate and uplift solutions that address human well-being and climate change, centering those most impacted, as we chart the course for a safer, more equitable future. It’s time to build a world where everyone has the chance to thrive. Yusuf Jameel, PhD, is a multidisciplinary environmental scientist with experience in water resources, public health, big data analytics, and science communication. As the Research Manager for Drawdown Lift, Yusuf leads research and analysis into win-win solutions that address climate change and improve human well-being. Carissa Patrone, MPA is a passionate connector who enjoys finding and amplifying the interconnectedness and synergies of all things. Carissa is the Program Coordinator of Drawdown Lift, where she advances partnership engagement and written communications that support the intersection of climate solutions, improvement of human well-being, and poverty alleviation.  Kristen P. Patterson, MS, MPH is an innovative leader focused on finding equitable solutions to global challenges that improve people’s lives. As the director of Drawdown Lift, Kristen leads efforts to advance climate solutions that improve human well-being and alleviate poverty in emerging economies in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Sources: Amnesty International, BBC, Government of India, Government of West Bengal, GreenBiz, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Nature Energy, News Laundry, Project Drawdown, United Nations, United Nations Development Program.
Read more
August 23, 2021
Young girl in school
Essential tips for talking about Project Drawdown’s Health and Education solution
by Carissa Patrone Maikuri, Program Coordinator—Drawdown Lift
Drawdown Lift—a new program at Project Drawdown—is reflecting on how our team works to break down disciplinary walls and lift up global solutions that address climate change and extreme poverty, and enhance human well-being around the world. We are thrilled that so many thought leaders and change makers continue to champion action on (and communicate around) Project Drawdown’s work, including our organization’s Health and Education solution, given the foundational roles that reproductive health and education play in poverty alleviation. Collaboratively, Drawdown Lift focuses on advancing solutions designed to catalyze positive, equitable change in the most under-financially resourced communities in low- and middle- income countries.  When we work together to address societal inequities by lifting up gender equality, universal education, and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), we can also advance long-term solutions to climate change.  In communicating Project Drawdown’s Health and Education solution, it is important to avoid oversimplifying the complexities and interconnectedness of this work. Anyone working in this space must examine power structures and work to unpack the various systems of oppression (e.g., white supremacy and racism, patriarchy and sexism, colonization, classism, and more) that surface when working to reach “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 has created this resource guide [Download a PDF version] to welcome everyone (researchers, practitioners, and advocates) to communicate this solution in a way that centers equity and bodily autonomy, does not induce harm or reinforce systems of oppression, and reflects the vision of Project Drawdown.  Gender equality Women and girls from emerging economy countries continue to be disproportionately impacted by climate change, environmental degradation and exploitation, and a lack of environmental protections around the world.  Almost half of consumption-related emissions are generated by just 10% of people globally. Project Drawdown recognizes that a majority of greenhouse gas emissions come from high-income, high-consumption countries. Women and girls in emerging economy countries are often disproportionately (first and worst) impacted by the effects of climate change, including but not limited to extreme weather events and natural disasters. We do not have the ability to “empower” anyone. Every person on this planet has power within themselves, but many people have been systematically and historically excluded from spaces, conversations, and vital resources.  Women and girls are not passive victims. However, they have been systematically excluded from many decision-making opportunities, resources, institutions, and spaces to support their own growth and leadership.  Malala Yousafzai (esteemed advocate for girls’ education from Pakistan) and Wangari Maathai (environmental activist and creator of the Green Belt Movement from Kenya) are two inspiring examples of women who have stood up to make waves for women and girls in education and environmental conservation. Through leadership and holistic actions, Yousafzai—and Maathai, who passed away in 2011 but whose legacy lives on—challenged systems and made sure that their voices were heard around the world. The importance of universal education Access to high-quality education is not a privilege, but a fundamental human right. Education provides an opportunity for children to develop their capacity, empower themselves, and increase their knowledge in various subject areas. Recent data show many inequities within our education systems across the world. According to UNICEF, “Forty-four percent of girls and 34 percent of boys (10-19 years old) from the poorest families have never attended school or dropped out before completing primary education." High-quality universal education is transformative, and is a basic human right for all people. Inequities within education systems perpetuate injustice in both the social and economic spheres. A focus on high-quality education is particularly important for girls, who are often left behind in terms of educational access and quality. Still today, according to UNICEF, around 129 million girls around the world don’t attend school. Also, the COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately impacted girls (ages 12–17) in low- and lower-income countries who often have a greater risk of dropping out of school. Educating girls and committing fully to climate action go hand-in-hand.  Girls are important agents of change, particularly in the climate space. When girls have access to high-quality education, their ability to contribute to climate change mitigation and adapt to climate shocks increases. Girls who have access to education are more likely to become informed about climate change and take action on climate solutions.  Sexual and reproductive health and rights High-quality universal education and SRHR are both important due to the ancillary benefits they have as climate solutions. At times—regardless of a person’s intentions—these topics can be communicated in a way that is not rights-based or does not convey the importance of the right of girls and women to have full bodily autonomy.  Gender equality and women’s and girls’ reproductive rights must be embedded into climate solutions and climate justice. Project Drawdown does not advocate for “small” or “ideal” family sizes or limiting fertility; such policies can be racist, classist, or coercive. Our model reflects changes in future population growth scenarios based on the United Nations’ population projections. We unequivocally advocate for all adolescents and women to have full bodily autonomy to decide whether, when, with whom, and how many children to have.   When communicating about reproductive health, it is important to use language that reflects the agency of women and girls and their own choices while also considering different laws, policies, and practices around the world.  When speaking about reproductive health, it is important to recognize differences within socio-cultural norms in different places and spaces. In order for families, communities, countries, and the world to reach gender equality, there must be a shift in attitudes, beliefs, and policy to mitigate harmful gender norms. Furthermore, engaging men is a crucial part of the solution to achieve gender equality.  Universal education and SRHR have numerous benefits for all people and must be embedded in climate conversations and solutions. It’s important to recognize that women and girls in both emerging economy countries and high-income countries can lack access to high-quality and affordable reproductive health care.  Access to high-quality reproductive health care (including voluntary family planning) and universal education are essential human rights with profound cascading benefits that include enhanced overall health of women and their families, economic growth, and an increased ability of individuals and households to cope with climate shocks and stressors. In addition, addressing inequities in society provides ancillary climate benefits as population growth slows at a global level. Climate impacts and the power of women in action Gender inequality and power imbalances are often amplified during times of crises, such as the climate crisis or the COVID-19 pandemic. Gender-based violence has also been linked to power struggles over natural resources (especially in resource-scarce or degraded lands), environmental crimes, extractive industries, weather-related disasters, and climate-related conflict.        Prevalence of gender-based violence often increases during times of extreme environmental stressors and climate shocks, which amplify pre-existing gender inequalities.  Access to high-quality, universal education and SRHR are two separate but interconnected domains encompassed in Project Drawdown’s Health and Education solution. This solution models changes in population growth by 2050, and includes two rights-based measures: (1) universal right and voluntary access to reproductive healthcare and (2) universal access to quality primary and secondary education (12–13 years of schooling). It was assumed that these interventions are inherently synergistic. Education and knowledge are power and can be a gateway for girls to become active community members and leaders.  Girls with access to high-quality education and full knowledge and access to SRHR can be more involved in political, social, and economic spheres of life.  Studies show that gender equality—for example, a greater proportion of women in national government—is strongly associated with more robust environmentalism on a national level. In other words, women in national legislatures have shown to vote for more stringent climate and environmental protections. Among many reasons, some include the fact that more harm from environmental degradation is felt by women and that women participate more than men in social movements.    Greater involvement of women in local decision making leads to better natural resource management and conservation outcomes.  We all benefit when women have equal access to opportunities to educate ourselves and have full autonomy over our bodies. When referencing Project Drawdown’s Health and Education solution in ways that are rights-based and acknowledge the important work and power of women in an unequal world, we can advance health, equity, and human well-being and also generate cascading benefits for climate. Call to action  We need everyone—activists, SRHR leaders, human well-being experts, and concerned global citizens—to stand up and support equity-driven climate solutions. We hope that the inclusive, rights-based language highlighted here will support everyone working to champion universal, high-quality education and family planning for all as important goals, which are made more powerful by the double-duty they serve as climate solutions. 
Read more

Pages