Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

New programs link cities with science experts to tackle resiliency challenges

Two new programs aim to get subject-matter experts linked up with local and regional governments to take on their most pressing resiliency challenges.  Andy Revkin offers up his typically link-infused overview of these efforts, centered on Thriving Earth Exchange, which is networking to bring in experts to help cities with specific issues such as flood risks to food distribution systems, adapting to extreme heat, responding to drought, and many others.  Meanwhile, the Obama White House rolled out a similar program dubbed The Resilience Dialogues, an “online consultative service will help communities find, use, and understand information, tools, and programs to support their climate-resilience needs.”

Both of these programs are actively soliciting requests from cities for expert guidance, and subject-matter experts willing to share their insights.  If you’re active in your local community’s transition, resiliency, or climate response programs, check them out!  Start with Revkin’s introduction, then dig in.

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Best of 2015 from Stockholm Resilience Centre

Scandinavians have grappled with social challenges more diligently than most of the rest of the world, and it’s no different in the realm of resilience.  The Stockholm Resilience Centre has long been the global leader in researching and teaching about the nuts and bolts of what resilience is and what it can offer to communities, planners, and the world.  They’ve just compiled their most-requested new papers of 2015, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better syllabus for getting up to speed with the most current municipal experiments and global thinking in resilience.  Topics range far and wide, with a special emphasis on recent practical attempts to implement resilience, along with the important question of how we can or should assess or measure resilience.  If you’re active in local or regional resilience planning or Transition Town programs, you really do need to jump on over to the SRC website and peruse this collection.

Here’s a taste of the topics covered; their site includes a full-page summary of each one, some with video and most with a sidebar of related papers and links:

  • Learning to apply resilience: First in-depth analysis of a resilience assessment put into practice
  • Don’t fence me in: Managing ecosystems for predictable outcomes may backfire, new study warns
  • Beyond measure?: Reducing resilience to a few measurements can block deeper understanding
  • Planetary Boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet
  • Five factors for successful management of natural capital: Strategies for successful governance, for both people and ecosystems

Kudos to the Centre both for funding this important work, and for offering such complete summaries of each paper to help guide visitors to the ones that are most relevant for them.  Great work!

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How would nature design a financial system?

Here’s a biomimicry-inspired vision for creating a global network of community credit organizations as an evolutionary new underpinning for the global financial system, currently centered on huge banking outfits.  It’s by Jamie Brown-Hansen, managing director of Biomimicry Switzerland.  Community Credit: The Next Generation of Financial Architecture

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Climate resilience can enhance social cohesion, reduce inequity

At a conference this summer, Building Climate Resilience for Equitable Communities, Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and the Budget, announced a slew of new White House climate resilience initiatives that are targeted to helping communities at risk and reduce the inequity that has become a major source of social instability.  He asked:

“Why are some children less likely to go to college, find good-paying jobs, and stay out of the criminal justice system? Why do those who have the least stand to lose the most when the storm comes through?”

Donovan went on to outline several programs that address these questions, through the lens of federal efforts to increase resilience in the face of climate challenges, including

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Is corporate capitalism a failing system?

One of the primary internal challenges faced by resilient investors is to decide how much faith to have in the current business-as-usual economic system. Is recent extreme market volatility the new normal, and if so, have we seen the last of hefty long-term returns? Will corporate capitalism embrace enough social responsibility to reverse the startling inequality that threatens to undermine societies or enough environmental sanity to slow the climate catastrophe?   Our view is that the system can and will make the changes that are needed, with our Sustainable Global Economy and Evolutionary resilient investing strategies working together toward that end.  At the same time, we recognize that the system may not be as adaptable as we think; our Close to Home strategy and a focus on Personal/Social and Tangible Assets are important hedges against that possibility, while also fostering valuable returns in any future scenario.

Gar Alperovitz is no longer asking these questions; he puts the situation in stark terms, starting one recent article with a quote from Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum: “capitalism in its current form no longer fits the world around us.”  Alperovitz then piles on the mainstream doubts by quoting a Larry Summers report that notes,

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Resiliency networks for smaller cities

In recent weeks, we’ve featured the work of several networks of cities and of mayors that are working together to tackle climate challenges locally.  But if you live in a smaller city (or aren’t a mayor), you may be interested in a couple of other organizations we just came across. Resilient Communities for America includes over 200 city and county councilmembers (and mayors) and offers free resources to help your community track emissions, plan for solar and resiliency, and more.  The larger ICLEI (launched in 1991 as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives; now rebranded as Local Governments for Sustainability) has hundreds of members in 42 states, and over a thousand from around the world; dues for cities under 50,000 are just $600/year. Either or both of these networks could really help you jump-start local initiatives or take the next steps.

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Don’t look away now—time for climate mobilization

The UK newspaper The Guardian has been a leading voice on climate change for some time now.  As part of its Keep it  in the Ground campaign, they ran a series of excerpts from Naomi Klein’s most recent book, This Changes Everything.  This one popped up again recently in one of our social feeds, and it’s a solid reminder of the stakes, and the potential, that stand before us.  Here’s the rallying cry:

Slavery wasn’t a crisis for British and American elites until abolitionism turned it into one. Racial discrimination wasn’t a crisis until the civil rights movement turned it into one. Sex discrimination wasn’t a crisis until feminism turned it into one. Apartheid wasn’t a crisis until the anti-apartheid movement turned it into one.

Klein goes on:

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Cities lead the way on climate, resilience

Everywhere I turn lately, there’s another reminder that cities are central to our hopes for a more sustainable, resilient future.  The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group—a decade-old collaboration among 75 of the world’s largest cities that are home to over a half-billion people and a quarter of the global economy—is on the forefront of these efforts, as is the Compact of Mayors, involving 84 cities, many of them smaller or mid-sized. Both groups are gearing up to have a major presence at the upcoming Paris climate talks. The C40 has just released a new report, Powering Climate Action: Cities as Global Changemakers, which highlights the collaborative potential of cities working together: “The evidence shows that cities are taking action even where they have limited power, by collaborating with other cities and non-state actors and catalysing wider climate action in the private sector and civil society.”

NRDC’s OnEarth magazine recently produced an issue devoted to city-based climate action that is full of inspiring stories, including 

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What if it really is too late?

Much of what we share here is coverage of projects, research, and news that’s relatively encouraging—ideas and actions that might spur your own constructive engagement in these challenging times.  Recently, we’ve shared evolutionary/breakthrough techno-optimist visions, close-to-home/tangible in-the-dirt initiatives, and muddling-up/market-based optimism about carbon.  But hovering there in the background, as it has been with increasing intensity for at least a couple of decades, is the specter of questions that many of us can’t quite bear to face: Did we wait too long for any of this to make a real difference?  Is catastrophic climate change now baked into the system?  Have economic elites stubbornly steered the ship onto insurmountable shoals of social inequity and ecological overshoot? What if it really is too late?

Addressing this possibility has been among the hardest parts of putting together our book and this ongoing chronicle of resilient investing resources.  But we, too, have grappled with the darker questions, and have to some degree prepared ourselves, at least internally, for the possibility that we are indeed in the early stages of a significant societal and/or ecological decline.  None of the four of us who put the book together are ready to abandon ship,

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Post-hurricanes, northeast turns toward resilient power

The one-two punches of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy have spurred cities throughout the northeastern United States to invest in more reliable backup power systems.  These “Resilient Power” initiatives reduce reliance on generators (which too often fail when fired up) in favor of more resilient solar, fuels cells, and power storage systems that can provide benefits between outages as well.  A new Resilient Power Guide from the Clean Energy Group highlights early state-wide projects from Maryland to Vermont, which have spurred 40 municipal programs.  The first target is emergency response facilities: “More than 90 critical facilities in the Northeast – including emergency shelters, wastewater treatment plants, firehouses and other first responder facilities – will have resilient electrical systems in place to improve emergency response in the next year, and to protect neighborhoods in the next power outage.”  Click through to learn more about these trailblazing programs, then dig in a bit in your area to see how you might engage in some Zone 4 resilient investing to advance these efforts in your community.

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Local business “pollinators” are revolutionizing economic development

For years, economic development has focused on attracting existing businesses to build or move to your state or city.  A new book from Michael Shuman challenges the track record of multi-million-dollar tax incentives and points instead at the rapid spread of “business pollinators” that spark local business ecosystems to life, creating far more jobs without relying on public funds to do so.  In fact, the fight among several “suitors” for a new factory or a movie production generally doesn’t create any new jobs for the national economy; indeed, existing companies have shown a net loss of jobs in recent years, while new small businesses have been the primary source of new job creation.  We’ve long appreciated Shuman’s efforts to spotlight the powerful effects of what we call the Close to Home investment strategy, and this new book shows the way forward in exciting detail.  Click through for some key excerpts and more info.

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King of Thailand champions a “sufficiency economy”

For sixty years, the King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand has been expounding on a development philosophy he terms The Sufficiency Economy.  It’s based on putting moderation and balance at the center of development strategy, emphasizing the Buddhist concept of ‘the middle path’ as a leading principle for appropriate conduct of people, businesses and government at all levels.  As illustrated at the top of this post, it bears a striking resemblance to the three-tiered expansion of “self-interest” that fires what we call the invisible heart of resilience, which unleashes the real power and promise of resilient investing.

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