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89 posts categorized "Climate Change"

Year in Review: Gulf Coast Oil Spill Tops List of Environmental Concerns

December 29, 2010

Deepwater_pelican_profile Climate change, deforestation, species loss
-- all took a back seat, for a few months at least, to the biggest environmental story of the year, the disastrous explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20 and subsequent discharge of oil. Before it was capped in mid-July, the deep-sea gusher pumped more than two hundred million gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico -- the worst oil spill in U.S. history -- wreaking havoc on the region's fishing and tourism industries and threatening long-term damage to the region's fragile ecosystems.

Not that the news on the environmental front was all that bright before the Deepwater blowout. In February, a report from the Pew Environment Group suggested that rapid melting of Arctic snow and sea ice could cost the world a minimum of $2.4 trillion by 2050. The urgency of the global warming problem was underscored later in the month when the Boston-based Barr Foundation, New England's largest private foundation, pledged $50 million over five years to help make the metro Boston region a national leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And in July, the New York City-based Ford Foundation made an even larger climate change commitment, pledging $85 million over five years to help rural and indigenous people play a more active role in the stewardship of the natural resources around them and ensure that future global climate change initiatives addressed their needs.

Still, the BP spill dominated headlines for the better part of the year -- which made the lackluster charitable response that followed in its aftermath all the more surprising. Community foundations in the region were among the first to respond, with the Greater New Orleans Foundation establishing a Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund in early May to support those in the fishing and tourism industries affected by the disaster, while the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice made an early grant to support a Florida marine laboratory monitoring the Gulf's marine life. But six weeks after the explosion, only $4 million had been donated to relief and recovery efforts (compared with the more than $580 million contributed within eight days of Hurricane Katrina's landfall).

A number of corporations eventually did step up with significant donations of cash and/or in-kind goods. They included Pepsi, which contributed $1.3 million through its Pepsi Refresh Project to nonprofits proving support and assistance to people in the Gulf Coast region; Chevron, which gave $750,000 to the National Audubon Society; and BP, which gave $25 million to three research institutions working in the Gulf. In addition, the nonprofit X Prize Foundation launched a $1.4 million competition, the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge, to encourage the development of solutions to cleaning up oil spills.

If the BP spill overshadowed most other environmental efforts in 2010, it also served, as William Meadows, president of the Wilderness Society, said in June after his organization received a three-year grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, as "a tragic reminder of why the transition to renewable energy is so essential."

Meadows was hardly alone in holding that view. In October, David and Patricia Atkinson pledged $80 million to Cornell University to endow the Center for a Sustainable Future they had created on campus in 2007. "The environment, energy, and economic development are heavily interrelated; problems of sustainability can only be addressed with a multidisciplinary approach," said Atkinson, a retired general partner of Philadelphia-based Miller, Anderson, & Sherrerd LLP. "As the pressures of rapid population growth take hold, to avoid a crisis it's important to address issues of sustainability preemptively."


A Conversation With Brett Jenks, President/CEO, Rare Conservation

October 04, 2010

Jenks_lg Our planet has become very crowded, very quickly. According to economist and Earth Institute director Jeffrey Sachs, the world's population has grown by 4 billion, from 2.6 billion to 6.6 billion, in just sixty years. Over that same period, the population of sub-Saharan Africa has increased from 180 million to 820 million, while the population of Asia Minor has quadrupled, from 51 million to 220 million. Global economic activity has increased even faster, with gross world product having risen a staggering eight times since 1950 and a hundred times since the start of the industrial era.

All those people and all that economic activity have greatly stressed the planet's natural systems. In almost every region of the world, freshwater supplies, forests, arable land, and fish stocks are being depleted at an alarming rate. Deserts are expanding, endangered habitats are shrinking, and the oceans are becoming more acidic. And with world population predicted to hit 9.2 billion by 2050 — a nearly 40 percent increase — and world per capita income expected to rise 450 percent, the global competition for critical resources is predicted to have dire consequences. Unless, as Sachs writes in Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet, we "break some bad and long-standing habits" and learn to manage our resources sustainably.

Recently, Philanthropy News Digest talked with Brett Jenks, president and CEO of Rare Conservation, a U.S.-based conservation group, about the organization's work, the dynamics of behavior change, and the significance of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

For the past decade, Jenks has overseen Rare's global effort to equip people in the world's most biodiverse areas with the tools and motivation they need to protect their natural resource base. Under his leadership, the organization has grown over 1,000 percent; expanded its work to five continents; formed worldwide partnerships with leading environmental NGOs; and received four straight Fast Company Social Capitalist Awards.

Philanthropy News Digest: I'd like to start by asking you about the situation in the Gulf of Mexico. After three months and the release of millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf, BP was able to cap its damaged Macondo well in July and [last month] finally managed to plug the well for good. Beyond the economic toll on the residents of the Gulf region and the toll on turtles, sea mammals, sea birds, and other species, what concerns you most about what happened in the Gulf this summer?

Brett Jenks: It's clear to me the oil spill was a tragedy whose ultimate consequences we won't be able to assess for months, if not years, to come. But a spill like that, as devastating as it was, pales in comparison to the much less perceptible loss of habitat and species we are going to have to contend with once we realize what we've allowed to happen, in our lifetimes, to the planet's climate. For me, the oil spill is a symbol of our arrogance as a species, as well as the fact that we don't have a Plan B in the event something goes wrong when we drill that deep for oil. And my biggest concern is that people simply don't recognize or are unwilling to admit what is happening all over the world with respect to the loss of habitat, the loss of species, the loss of the natural resource base on which so many people's lives and the well-being of future generations depends. Sadly, I don't think we've learned very much from the spill, and I don't think it will lead to comprehensive climate legislation — or to a recognition of what's happening in terms of the global extinction crisis, the future scarcity of water, or climate change in general.

PND: Is Rare doing anything to address the after-effects of the spill

BJ: We aren't involved in any way with the spill. We're not a domestic conservation organization, we have no offshore drilling expertise, and we don't lobby. Instead, we spend every waking moment thinking about the small gains we can make with local communities in the world's richest habitats in the developing tropics. We work entirely abroad, in countries like China, Indonesia, Mexico, and Malaysia. Other groups are far better equipped to take on the government and the oil companies and industry lobbyists who spend all their time on the Hill. We want to work where we can make a difference, and that's what makes us an effective organization.

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CGI 2010 Highlights [Video]

September 26, 2010

It was a busy week here in New York, and I'm still trying to process the dozens of sessions that were webcast from (or in conjunction with) the UN Millennium Development Summit and the sixth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.

For many, CGI and the MDG campaign epitomize everything that's wrong with international development as practiced by rich donor governments and their NGO partners: an addiction to grand schemes; an over-reliance on technocrats; and an unwillingness or inability to address some of the most important contributing factors (agricultural subsidies, resource exploitation, corruption) to global poverty.

I'm not an aid expert. But I found myself (as I have in the past) inspired by much of what I saw and heard this week in New York. Yes, the UN, which was established by charter in 1945, is showing its age. At the same time, one has to be impressed by a new generation of activist-geeks who want to open-up and energize the MDG campaign with social media. And sure, there are all sorts of agendas in play at a CGI meeting. But as Bill Clinton reminded those in attendance (and all of us watching on the Web), the folks making commitments, taking time out from busy schedules, and/or flying halfway around the globe to be part of a panel don't have to be there; they want to be there.

So without further adieu, here are three of my favorite sessions from this year's CGI meeting:

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The BP Oil Spill and Us

July 16, 2010

Melting_glaciers The loud sound you heard yesterday afternoon was the collective sigh escaping from millions of people on hearing that BP had sucessfully capped -- for the time being, at any rate -- the undersea well that has been blasting crude into the Gulf of Mexico for the last three months.

Earlier today, I spoke with Brett Jenks, president and CEO of Rare Conservation, an Arlington, Virginia-based conservation group that uses social marketing methods to change attitudes and behaviors at the local level, about the spill and its long-term impact on Gulf ecosystems. Jenks was understandably happy that the flow of oil had been stopped but bemoaned the damage that has already been done.

His biggest concern, however, is that we learned nothing from the spill. It was horrible as long as we could see the oil billowing into the freezing depths of the Gulf or washing up on pristine beaches. But even while it was happening, very few of us did anything to cut our consumption of oil or reduce our carbon footprint, and that's the real problem. The biggest environmental threat confronting us, climate change, isn't a phenomenon made for undersea webcams or the nightly news, said Jenks. It's a slowly unfolding catastrophe -- and as we pour ever-greater amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, it's growing worse by the day, week, year. But if something as terrible the BP oil spill can't get us to change our behavior, what will?

It's a good question. I live in a small Manhattan apartment, don't own a car, and am mindful of my carbon footprint. But I took a cab instead of the subway to work this morning because I was running late and, well, because I could. I'll go home to an air-conditioned apartment. And I'll spend the first half of August touring New England colleges in a car with my kids. Can't really say I've put myself on a carbon diet since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank at the end of April.

That's a problem. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that June's combined global land and ocean surface temperature made it the warmest June on record (going back to 1880) and helped make the April-June and January-June periods the warmest on record as well. Now, I can sign a petition calling on the U.S. Senate to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation, and so can you. But if we really want to slow the progress of global warming -- and spare our kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids the worst of the consequences it will bring if left unchecked -- then each of us needs to change his or her behavior. Starting today.

So what are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint? And should foundations be doing more to address the climate change threat? Leave your comments below....

-- Mitch Nauffts

This Week in PubHub: The Environment and the Clean Energy Economy

April 22, 2010

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center’s online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her last post, she wrote about global public health initiatives.)

BlueMarble Today's the 40th anniversary of Earth Day -- what better time to look at a handful of reports that deal with aspects of the emerging clean energy economy?

Investment in the clean energy industry worldwide has grown 230 percent since 2005 and is forecast to reach $200 billion in 2010, according to Who's Winning the Clean Energy Race? Growth, Competition and Opportunity in the World's Largest Economies: G-20 Clean Energy Factbook (Pew Charitable Trusts). Among the G-20, China, Brazil, the UK, Germany, and Spain all have strong domestic policies aimed at reducing global warming and all offer healthy incentives for renewable energy production and clean energy job creation. Without a similar policy framework to stimulate investment in solar, wind, bioenergy, and energy efficiency, the report warns, the United States risks falling behind in the race to lead the global clean energy economy.

What actions should the U.S. be taking? The Clean Energy Economy: Repowering Jobs, Businesses and Investments Across America (Pew Charitable Trusts) offers a state-by-state analysis of clean energy jobs, businesses, and public and private investments across five categories — clean energy, energy efficiency, environmentally friendly production, conservation and pollution mitigation, and training and support — as well as policies to promote clean energy. According to the report, financial incentives, renewable portfolio standards for electricity providers, energy efficiency standards, regional initiatives, and vehicle emissions standards, combined with federal stimulus spending, are all needed to spur further growth.

What barriers do policy makers face in adopting such policies? One concern is that the adoption of cap-and-trade or a carbon tax would make carbon-intensive U.S. industries less competitive with China and other emerging economic powers. China, the U.S., and the Climate Change Challenge (World Resources Institute) suggests that such concerns can be addressed by including a domestic allowance in U.S. cap-and-trade legislation as well as through coordinated bilateral and multilateral action. The report also examines China's energy policies and argues that a comprehensive U.S. climate policy could strengthen recent environmental advances in that country by making clean technologies cheaper and easier to adopt.

Meanwhile, it seems that many industrialized nations are working at cross-purposes when it comes to climate change. World Bank Energy Sector Lending: Encouraging the World's Addiction to Fossil Fuels (Bank Information Center) looks at how the World Bank's approach to energy-sector lending encourages a reliance on fossil fuels in developing countries at the expense of a rational, measured transition to a low-carbon economy. According to the report, lending for fossil fuel projects increased by 102 percent in fiscal year 2008, compared with only 11 percent for renewable energy projects. What's more, the carbon emissions over time from projects funded by the bank in 2008 will amount to more than twice the annual emissions from Africa's entire energy sector, further impeding the bank's efforts to help the very people it is trying to lift out of poverty.

So what do you think our environmental and climate change priorities should be as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day? Next week's roundup of reports will focus more on what U.S. cities and corporations are doing. Until then, feel free to share your thoughts and comments below. And don't forget to check out PubHub, where you'll find annotated link to almost two hundred and seventy reports related to the environment.

-- Kyoko Uchida

Webcast: 2010 Global Philanthropy Forum Conference

April 19, 2010

For the second year in a row, the Foundation Center is providing the information platform for the Global Philanthropy Forum's annual conference. Using its research database and knowledge resources, the center has made targeted materials and a set of visual presentations organized around four central themes -- food security, global health, access to water, and climate change -- available to conference participants through a customized Web portal.

Many of the conference sessions are being streamed live. You can follow the proceedings on this page through the conclusion of the conference on Wednesday.

Watch live streaming video from gpf2010 at

-- Mitch Nauffts

3rd Annual Clinton Global Initiative University Meeting

April 17, 2010

Cgi_logo2 The third annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) has descended on the University of Miami campus, where more than a thousand college students, dozens of university presidents, and various nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs will spend all or part of the weekend participating in workshops and meetings focused on five topics of importance to college students: education, the environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health. This year's meeting also will focus on reconstruction efforts in Haiti.

As at all CGI events, participants are expected to make "commitments to action" -- a comprehensive, formal commitment to address a specific problem on their campus, in their community, or somewhere in the world. This year, participating students volunteered a thousand new commitments, while various universities and national youth organizations offered an additional sixty. When fully funded, the value of those commitments is expected to total roughly $42 million and will improve the lives of more than 290,000 people around the globe.

The following commitments (among others) were announced today:

Maren Gelle, Kayla Johnson, Sarah Carlson, and Daniel Novas will offer bike rentals for students on the St. Olaf College campus. The goal of the project is to encourage a bicycle culture on campus while reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Gelle, Johnson, Carlson, and Novas also will work with the local community to donate bikes to Haiti to be used as bicycle ambulances.

• Syracuse University undergraduates Tim Biba, Gregory Klotz, Kate Callahan, and Allison Stuckless will launch a literacy and nutrition program -- Books and Cooks -- for children in low-income housing in Syracuse, New York. In addition to improving students' reading skills, the students will teach workshops devoted to cooking and nutrition.

• New York University student Michelle Pomeroy, in partnership with the Tibetan Women's Association, will lead a two-week leadership skills course in India for exiled Tibetan women. The course will train women in leadership, settlement officer responsibilities, conflict resolution, and gender sensitization, with the goal of preparing the women to be elected or appointed as settlement officers.

• University of Miami undergrads Kaitlin Birgenthal, Safia Alajlan, Kelley Winship, and Sara Johnson will work to expand Ocean Kids to Boston, Washington, D.C., the Bahamas, and Kuwait. Ocean Kids currently brings underserved elementary school students to the University of Miami campus, where they learn about marine life and science.

• Rockland Community College undergrads Mark Svensson and Tarik Abdelqader will work to combat the modern human slave trade in the U.S. by lobbying state officials in New York and urging them pass a resolution that aims to stem the flow of enslaved people into the country. Each year an estimated 14,000 to 17,000 people are brought to the U.S. to be traded as human slaves, with New York state functioning as one of the largest trafficking hubs. In 2009, the legislature of Rockland County passed a memorializing resolution co-authored by Svensson and Abdelqader, and the two plan to target other county legislatures as well.

• Bates College student Razin Mustafiz will create financial literacy workshops for the Somali and Somali-Bantu community in Lewiston, Maine. The workshops will cover the basics of financial planning, from opening a bank account to saving money for education. Mustafiz' commitment is supported by the Bates College Harward Center for Community Partnerships and Adroscoggin Bank.

• MIT student Christopher Moses will develop a course called "Sana Lab" to teach medical personnel and students in the Philippines how to adapt a mobile medicine system developed at MIT to poor, remote locations. His commitment ultimately aims to extend medical care to the conflict-ridden area of Mindanao.

• St. Lawrence University student Grace Ochieng will work to expand the Pads for the People Project that she started in her village of Lwala, Kenya, with the help of the Lwala Community Alliance and thirteen local women. Women who participate in the project are trained to sew menstrual pads and encouraged to sell them for a profit. Over the next six months, Grace will form partnerships and work to make the program more financially sustainable.

John Trimmer and Scott Teagarden, undergraduate engineering students at Bucknell University, will construct a rainwater harvesting system that will provide the three hundred residents of Tumaipa, Suriname, with reliable, clean running water year-round. Local labor and materials will be used in the construction of the rainwater catchment system, and a water committee will be established to take ongoing ownership for the project.

Cynthia Koenig, founder of Hippo Water International and a graduate student at the University of Michigan, in association with Hippo Water International, will work to expand Hippo Water Rollers to India, providing Rollers to women and families. The Hippo, an innovative water transport tool designed to alleviate the problems associated with lack of access to water, makes it possible to collect twenty-four gallons of water, five times the amount possible using traditional methods, in much less time and much more easily.

• Makerere University graduate student Divinity Barkley will build an energy-efficient recording studio for the Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association (AGYA) Learning Center, a community center she founded in Kampala, Uganda. Her commitment will provide digital technology training to the Ugandan youth at AGYA, empower them to produce and market their own music, and serve as a source of revenue for AGYA's arts and educational programs. In addition, the recording studio will utilize solar power for 35 percent of its energy.

• Wesleyan student Kennedy Odede, in conjunction with Shining Hope for Communities and American Friends of Kenya, will work to empower and educate women in Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa. His commitment has two parts: a Home Birth Network, through which women will be trained as home birth attendants; and the Women’s Microfinance Empowerment Project, which will use sustainable gardening techniques to grow vitamin-rich vegetables that provide desperately needed sources of nutrition at affordable prices.

• Purdue University student Keith Hansen will create the iRead Foundation to deliver childrens books to community health centers in Indiana. As vice president of the Purdue Engineering Student Council, Hansen oversees a group that puts on the largest student-run job fair in the nation, bringing over 350 of the nation’s biggest engineering companies to campus and raising nearly $500,000 dollars annually. A portion of those funds will be used to set up the foundation.

• Miami Dade College student Ximena Prugue will distribute 10,000 solar-powered lamps in India's rural communities, with the goal of reducing and/or eliminating kerosene lamp use. The D.Light Design Company lamps will be provided by Bogo Light at wholesale price, and Ximena will work with PTK Honor Society at Miami Dade to raise the money neccessary to purchase the lamps.

• MIT student Sreeja Nag will work to bring renewable, sustainable, and affordable energy to rural regions of India. After consulting local citizens, NGO representatives, and staff at Selco Solar India, Nag has created a report outlining how to bring energy to these areas. One of her ideas, for example, is to create detachable table lighting systems for students to carry home from a solar-powered charger at school.

• University of Miami students Kristina Rosales, Arielle Duperval, Austin Webbert, and Lissette Miller will establish two new community centers in Cite Soleil, a slum located in Port-au-Prince. The community centers will provide educational progams, cultural activities, mentoring, and opportunities for intercultural exchanges between the south Florida community and Haiti.

Khushbu Mishra, an undergraduate student at Mount Holyoke College, will open an art institute in Mithila, Nepal, to display and sell the cultural folk art of local women, empowering and improving the lives of their families. After it's completed, the center will be run by local women who will then train other women in the arts, thereby expanding the reach of the program.

Jessica Yamane, an undergraduate student at the University of California-Riverside, will design an experimental course on how communities can promote healing for domestic violence victims. Partnering with Alternatives to Domestic Violence, Path of Life Ministry's King's Hall Transitional Housing Program, and With Her Strength, Yamane hopes to modify this curriculum for integration in K-12 health and wellness programs throughout the Riverside School District.

Christine Meling, an undergraduate student at Luther College, will purchase the materials and sewing machines for women in Yari, Sudan, to make school uniforms for families that cannot afford them. The women also will receive training on how to sew and use the profits from uniform sales to sustain the program.

An Thi Minh Vo, in association with the Office of Genetic Counseling and Disabled Children in Hue City, Vietnam, will provide microloans of $212 to thirty-five families with children disabled by Agent Orange. The project aims to increase borrowers' income and ease the hardship of families struggling to afford health care and other basic needs.

• University of the Pacific graduate student Harnoor Singh will work with local physicians to provide free blood sugar and basic cardiovascular health screenings for California's migrant worker and supply low-cost prescription drugs to those in need. The tests, which can be completed for less than $15 per person, are of vital importance to California's migrant laborers, the majority of whom lack access to basic healthcare services.

Nathan O'Hara, a graduate student at the University of British Columbia, in association with Makerere University and Vancouver General Hospital, will work to supply Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda, with three hundred half-pins annually. Each year, there are unnecessary fatalities in Uganda due to a lack of vital medical supplies; half-pins, which are used to treat traumatic injuries involving fractured bones, are among those. A collection system in Vancouver-area hospitals will reprocesses the reusable pins, which will be delivered to Mulago Hospital twice a year.

Christina Newman, Sherley Codio, and Fabrice Marcelin, students at Virginia Tech, in partnership with Caritas and the Religious of Jesus and Mary in Gros-Morne, Haiti, will raise $60,000 and oversee the construction of a facility that can house more than 1,500 hens capable of producing 1,250 eggs per day -- 15 percent of the local egg supply. The three have already raised $23,000 and developed a business plan for the project. Their commitment will strengthen the local economy by reducing reliance on imports, and will empower local communities by providing much-needed employment opportunities.

Wow. As Margaret Mead famously said, "Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have." Hats off to those who have stepped up with commitments. You're an inspiration to us all.

To learn more about and/or view webcasts from the event, which ends tomorrow, click here.

-- Mitch Nauffts

This Week in PubHub: Advancing Global Health

April 07, 2010

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center’s online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her last post, she wrote about climate change mitigation and adaptation.)

As mentioned in my last post, the Foundation Center is providing grants data, research, and relevant news items for four plenary sessions ("Providing Food Security," "Advancing Global Health," "Improving Access to Water," "Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation") at the upcoming ninth annual Global Philanthropy Forum conference, April 18-21, in Redwood City, California. In the weeks leading up to the conference, PubHub is featuring reports on each of these issue areas. This week's focus is on "Advancing Global Health."

Global health challenges, caused or exacerbated by climate change, growing pressure on freshwater supplies, and/or food insecurity, are predicted to consume an ever-larger share of global GDP. So what is being done to address these closely linked issues?

The U.S. Global Health Initiative: Overview & Budget Analysis (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation) examines the Obama administration’s six-year, $63 billion global health initiative, which advocates a shift in U.S. policy from a vertical, disease-specific approach to global health problems to a more horizontal, integrated approach that addresses multiple health issues in the same populations while strengthening underlying health systems. The initiative also includes continued commitments to the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis and a broader focus on maternal and child health, family planning, and neglected tropical diseases. The report points out the need to consider implications of ongoing reviews of U.S. diplomacy and development policy, reforms of foreign aid structure, and the U.S. Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative.

Building Healthcare Leadership in Africa: A Call to Action (Accordia Global Health Foundation) highlights the need to bolster public health systems in Africa — not only by hiring more workers, improving infrastructure, and introducing new technologies, but also through building leadership capacity. Based on discussions from an April 2009 conference, the report lays out a framework for building capacity and sustainability through leadership development at the individual, institutional, and network levels.

Proven HIV Prevention Strategies (Global HIV Prevention Working Group) describes effective strategies for preventing sexual, blood-borne, and mother-to-child transmission of HIV such as antiretroviral drugs, breast-feeding alternatives, and caesarean delivery. The issue brief emphasizes the need to complement prevention technologies with structural interventions that reduce the vulnerability of those at risk, including legal and policy reforms that empower women.

Empowering women is what Investing in Women for a Better World (BSR) is all about. The report offers case studies of HERproject, a six-country initiative that aims to improve women factory workers' health awareness, leadership skills, and employer relations though peer education and intervention networks. Given that women are more likely to invest their income in the education, nutrition, and health of their children, the authors argue that workplace health programs further empower them to break the cycle of poverty.

Clearly, the global health challenges of the twenty-first century cannot be tackled in isolation, and the above reports only begin to touch on the cross-cutting strategies that will be needed to bring about lasting change. What other strategies are being tried and/or are working? Use the comments section to share your thoughts. And be sure to check out some of the 1,400 other health-related reports in PubHub.

-- Kyoko Uchida

This Week in PubHub: Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

March 26, 2010

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center’s online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her last post, she wrote about women and health.)

"Defy Barriers, Effect Change: Access to Health, Food and Water" is the theme of the upcoming ninth annual Global Philanthropy Forum conference, April 18-21, in Redwood City, California. As it did last year, the Foundation Center is providing grants data, research, and relevant news items for four of the plenary sessions: "Providing Food Security," "Advancing Global Health," "Improving Access to Water," and "Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation." In advance of the conference, the center will be featuring reports on each of these issue areas at PubHub. This week's focus is on "Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation."

How can we address the causes of climate change and minimize the effects of global warming? Black Carbon: A Science/Policy Primer (Pew Center on Global Climate Change) focuses on a component of soot that absorbs sunlight in the atmosphere, changes rainfall patterns, and accelerates the melting of snow and ice. But unlike most greenhouse gases, the report notes, soot particles have a short atmospheric lifetime, so emissions reductions produce almost immediate results. As an alternative to controlling black carbon emissions as part of a comprehensive global climate policy, the authors suggest a targeted regional approach focused on major sources of those emissions.

The challenges of taking a global approach to climate change mitigation are spelled out in Verifying Mitigation Efforts in a New Climate Agreement (Pew Center on Global Climate Change). The issue brief examines the key elements of a rigorous system of measurement, reporting, and verification that would lead to a clear determination of individual country's compliance under a facilitative (rather than punitive) post-2012 framework.

Even as efforts to slow global climate change gain urgency, regions affected by droughts, floods, and other climate change-related hazards must find ways to adapt sooner rather than later. What might a climate change-resilient development strategy look like? Shaping Climate-Resilient Development: A Framework for Decision-Making (Economics of Climate Adaptation Working Group) offers guidance with respect to cost-effective measures that could offset economic losses from climate change effects and result in more sustainable development models.

Last but not least, the Rockefeller Foundation white paper Building Climate Change Resilience looks at a new initiative by the foundation to raise awareness of the need to build resilience to climate change effects and test and support local approaches to adaptation in Asia, Africa, and the United States.

Obviously, global climate change will affect almost every aspect of our lives -- from agriculture, to food security, to land use, to trade and transportation -- over the coming decades. And that means we'll all have a role to play in shaping mitigation and adaptation efforts. Be sure to check out the more than seventy other reports on global climate change in PubHub. And let us know what you think.

-- Kyoko Uchida

World Water Day 2010

March 22, 2010

It's World Water Day, and the theme of this year's campaign, "Clean Water for a Healthy World," is designed to raise awareness of the estimated 1 billion people without access to clean water and the 2.5 billion people who have no safe way of disposing of human waste. Those are unimaginably large numbers -- and they represent a staggering burden on the growth potential and future of dozens of countries around the globe.

Indeed, the stakes for hundreds of millions of people couldn't be higher, as the World Bank Institute reminds us:

Water is essential for all dimensions of life. Over the past few decades, use of water has increased, and in many places water availability is falling to crisis levels. More than eighty countries, with forty percent of the world’s population, are already facing water shortages, while by year 2020 the world’s population will double. The costs of water infrastructure have risen dramatically. The quality of water in rivers and underground has deteriorated, due to pollution by waste and contaminants from cities, industry and agriculture. Ecosystems are being destroyed, sometimes permanently. Over one billion people lack safe water, and three billion lack sanitation; eighty per cent of infectious diseases are waterborne, killing millions of children each year....

I can't think of a better illustration of the fragile nature of the planet's fresh-water supplies than this graphic, which I shared with readers back in December:


To learn more about the state of the world's freshwater supplies and what you can do to ensure the sustainability of those supplies -- for everyone, now and into the future -- check out these resources:

Have a favorite water resource? Use the comments section to share...

-- Mitch Nauffts

Copenhagen: Now What?

December 20, 2009

Planet_earth_white_background_pv3j It would be a stretch to call the non-binding agreement announced at the close of the UN-sponsored climate summit a victory for supporters of steep, phased-in reductions in CO2 emissions. Indeed, reaction to the Copenhagen Accord ranged from skeptical acknowledgment of the few meaningful concessions it did contain to bemused disgust ("the emptiest deal one could imagine short of a fist fight").

According to the Seattle Times, the key elements of the agreement were worked out among the United States, China, Brazil, India, and South Africa on Friday:

  • Signatories agreed to cooperate in reducing emissions "with a view" to scientists' warnings to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F) above preindustrial levels.
  • Developing nations will report every two years on their voluntary actions to reduce emissions. Those reports would be subject to "international consultations and analysis," a concession to the United States by China, which had seen this as an intrusion on its sovereignty.
  • Richer nations will finance a $10 billion-a-year, three-year program to pay for poorer nations' projects to deal with drought and other climate-change impacts, and to develop clean energy.
  • They also set a "goal" of "mobilizing" $100 billion a year by 2020 for the same adaptation and mitigation purposes.

In other words, business as usual, with a few extra bucks -- how else to describe $100 billion in an age of trillion-dollar bailouts? -- set aside to help poor countries deal with the long-term consequences of a warming planet.

We will hear, in the weeks to come, how the "failure" of Copenhagen underscores the growing irrelevance of the UN and its approach to the climate change problem. And that's a shame. Because the real lesson of Copenhagen is that solutions to the problem -- and the related issues of energy security and sustainable economic growth -- are never going to be hashed out in a conference room. They lie, instead, with you and me, in the choices we make on a daily basis about how we eat, what and when we drive, how much stuff we need, and what kind of world we want to leave our kids and grandkids.

The politicians and bureaucrats gave it the old college try and came up short. Now the ball's in our court. Here are a few things you can do. Start by adding your voice to the tens of thousands who are fed up with the status quo. Let your elected representatives know you're concerned about climate change and energy independence and are ready to do something about it. Invest in American entrepreneurialism, innovation, and ingenuity. Make a New Year's resolution to be "green" in 2010. And remember the words of Henry David Thoreau: "Things do not change; we change."

--Mitch Nauffts

Climate Change and Philanthropy

December 14, 2009

As the second week of the 15th annual UN climate change conference gets under way in Copenhagen, representatives of the nearly two hundred nations in attendance have produced more "posturing than progress," reports the New York Times. Maybe so, but a new research advisory from the Foundation Center reveals that philanthropic organizations in the U.S. have stepped up in a big way over the last eight years to address the issue. According to Climate Change: The U.S. Foundation Response (4 pages, PDF), foundation funding to address issues related to global warming jumped from less than $100 million in 2000 to nearly $900 million in 2008.

In the advisory, Steven Lawrence, the center's director of research, explains that "while philanthropic efforts to address global warming have been growing, a small number of very large funders still account for most of the support....In fact, the top 25 climate change grantmakers in 2008 provided more than 90 percent of the funding."


That's a lot of money, but will foundations be able to support the issue at that level given the uncertain economy? It's too early to say, writes Lawrence:

[T]he recent economic crisis has markedly reduced foundation resources, and the Foundation Center predicts that the impact of the downturn will lead to continued reductions in overall foundation funding through at least 2010.

Though the impact of the expected reductions on climate change grantmaking is uncertain, throughout 2009 foundations have continued to announce new grants focused on the climate crisis, suggesting that the foundation community will remain committed to addressing the causes and impact of global warming....

You can download the entire advisory here. And for more information about philanthropy's response to climate change, check out this presentation produced by the center for the Global Philanthropy Forum's 8th annual conference last April.

-- Regina Mahone

TED on Sunday: David Keith on Climate Change and Geo-engineering

December 13, 2009

Scientists have been concerned about the uncertain impacts of anthropogenic climate change for fifty years, says environmental scientist David Keith, and yet we have done almost nothing to slow or reduce emissions of manmade greenhouse gases. That's the bad news. The good news is that we can solve the problem of global warming quickly and relatively cheaply by putting fine sulfur particles into the lower atmosphere to deflect sunlight, much as volcanic eruptions do. But geo-engineered solutions to the warming problem create problems of their own, says Keith. First, who gets to decide what the appropriate action and timing of that action is? And how do we resolve what Keith calls the moral hazard implicit in any geo-engineered solution to global warming? After listening to his talk, you'll have a greater appreciation for the challenges confronting the negotiators at the climate change talks in Copenhagen. (Filmed: September 2007; Running time: 16:30)

Liked this talk? Try one of these.

-- Mitch Nauffts

TED on Sunday: John Doerr on the 'Green' Imperative

December 06, 2009

With the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 15) set to begin tomorrow, this seems like a good time to take another look at what may be at stake. In this emotional talk, legendary Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr argues that there "is a time when panic is the appropriate response" -- and with catastrophic, irreversible climate change only decades away, that day is fast approaching. Fortunately, says, Doerr, he has learned four things about the climate change issue that give him hope: business can be part of the solution; individuals matter; smart policy matters; and the potential for radical innovation in the clean-energy field is almost limitless. As Doerr likes to say: "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." Let's get started. (Filmed: March 2007; Running time: 17:49)

Liked this talk? Try one of these.

And for those who can't get enough of TED, check out Jim Simpson's post about a cool hidden feature of most TED Talks.

-- Mitch Nauffts

Water, Water Everywhere, But Not a Drop to Drink

December 02, 2009

If ever a picture/graphic was worth a thousand words...


(H/t Adam Singer/The Future Buzz)

-- Mitch Nauffts


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