Too often the tasks of tackling climate change and delivering new economic development opportunities for poor communities are claimed to be in tension with each other. In reality, building resilience and developing strategies for climate change mitigation are essential for protecting livelihoods and natural resources, particularly in developing countries.
Innovative, and increasingly collaborative, solutions can deliver ‘win-wins’ that allow progress on multiple fronts. These themes were recently discussed by leading government, business, and NGO representatives, from both developed and developing countries, at an official UNFCCC COP22 side event on ‘Scaling of innovative solutions for mitigation & adaptation’.
The event, co-hosted by SNV, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and the Government of Cameroon featured contributions from government, business, and NGOs. Keynote speaker, Ms Lilianne Ploumen, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, talked about how innovation ‘can make or break our success in adaptation and mitigation’ and emphasised the crucial role of women in the process. The level and scale of change required to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement requires a significant increase in the level and scale of successful, sustainable innovation.
Panellists, included Nicolas Gomez, MTN Benin, Diane Holdorf, Kellog Company, Njayou Mama Moustapha, WWF-Cameroon, Harry Verhaar, Philips Lighting and CLG member, and Andy Wehkamp, SNV, delved into this further. The discussion explored how access to innovative technologies helps build resilience and climate action in low-income communities.
Two specific examples were presented, highlighting the use of technology to preserve the environment and alleviate poverty and the use of mobile technologies for pay-as-you-go solar lamps distribution. The last example in particular demonstrated how by creatively harnessing multiple innovations together, the vicious cycle of poverty can be broken down, and more reliable lighting coupled with major health and environmental benefits can be bought to new communities.
We heard how technologies such as these have transformed the ways in which low-income and rural communities can adapt their livelihoods to the realities of climate change. However, this is not an easy solution and one that is difficult to achieve alone.
Panellists highlighted that successful innovation requires strong collaboration and trust building. No single entity can create impactful solutions alone. Inclusive collaboration with many stakeholders, across all sectors, is necessary to ensure effective solutions are created and adopted at a transformational scale. Increasingly the private sector is engaged in such collaborations, which can both increase impact, but also hold actors accountable, increasing the credibility of actions.
Collaboration fosters an environment of knowledge sharing and capacity building which can not only unlock economic opportunities but also help scale up mitigation and adaptation efforts. Only by working together will we be able to unlock the type of change necessary to deliver on a number of crucial issues outlined in the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.