Posts Tagged ‘climate’

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on Urban Climate Innovations

By: Ambika Chawla

As the Biden-Harris administration designates climate change as a policy priority, increasing attention will be given towards advancing federal legislation on climate change, while also strengthening the capacities of city governments to introduce ambitious climate mitigation and adaptation policies/initiatives. The Biden-Harris administration has also promised to make environmental justice a priority.   

Indeed, city governments are uniquely positioned to tackle pressing challenges as they are in closer proximity to their communities. In this way, city governments can more effectively develop policies, programs and other initiatives which respond directly to the concerns of their communities.  

In the United States, and globally, we find that cities are implementing innovative climate action plans. Not only are cities playing an important role in developing strategies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, but they are also introducing creative actions to build urban resilience to climate change. 

Boulder, Colorado, for example, has adopted its “Climate Action Plan (CAP)” with the goal to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, while transitioning to 100% renewable electricity by 2030. Boulder is also home to the nation’s first voter approved tax dedicated to addressing climate change, known as the Climate Action Plan Tax. 

The city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil aims to become carbon neutral by 2050 and recently developed a city-wide “Resilience Strategy” with the aim to diminish the city’s vulnerabilities while increasing its resilience. 

And, Da Nang, which is one of the fastest growing cities in Vietnam, has designed its Green Growth City Development Strategy (GG-CDS), an urban masterplan which aims to create the first climate resilient city in Vietnam and in the Asia-Pacific region. 

These colorful and exciting examples demonstrate the many ways in which city governments, globally, are taking bold actions to tackle climate change. 

In tandem, we live in a rapidly urbanizing world. By 2050, 70% of the world’s population is predicted to be living in towns and cities, with almost 90% of this increase taking place in Asia and Africa. Fast-growing megacities include Karachi, Dhaka, Shanghai, and New Delhi. Chinese cities are also growing at breakneck speed.

Finally, environmental justice organizations across U.S. cities are taking bold actions to address environmental inequalities in their communities. For example, organizations such as Groundwork USA are working to ensure that communities of color have greater access to green space in cities, particularly given the considerable health benefits (both psychological and physical) that urban nature brings to city residents.

Urban Climate Innovations

Based on my expertise in urban development and climate change, I recently developed my company “Urban Climate Innovations,” a woman-owned business which aims to catalyze low carbon, climate resilient, and equitable cities around the world. 

When I worked as a youth ambassador on climate change for UN-Habitat (the cities branch of the United Nations) I became passionate about raising policymaker and public awareness about the role of city-level governance to tackle pressing challenges. 

In this role, I had the wonderful opportunity to represent the concerns of young people, globally, at the UN climate conferences in Bali, Indonesia, Copenhagen, as well as in Bonn, Germany.  

My collaborative relationship with UN-Habitat continued and led me to Hanoi, Vietnam, where I led the development of the UN’s official policy report on cities and climate change for Vietnam. This was a wonderful and fulfilling role where I worked closely with UN officials from Vietnam, South Korea, and the Netherlands. 

I continue to engage with UN-Habitat as a member of the steering committee for the Urban Economy Forum, a coalition of city leaders, UN representatives, and urban development practitioners working to develop urban economies that adhere to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

More recently, I have become passionate about informing the public about environmental injustices occurring in communities. I have also written about how we can create a more diverse and inclusive environmental movement. My work has been published by Yes! magazine, Ensia, Environmental Health New, Green Biz, Daily Climate, Next City, among other media.  

My company, Urban Climate Innovations (UCI), excels at designing compelling and engaging policy reports which inform decision makers and the public about transformative solutions to our world’s most challenges. 

At the heart of Urban Climate Innovations (UCI) is a process of listening to the voices of underrepresented communities and including their opinions in policy documents.

UCI also possesses expertise on all facets related to climate change law and policy, including legal issues in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, renewable energy law and policy, and climate adaptation policy. 

If you are connected to an organization working on any of the above issues, please do not hesitate to contact me to learn more about the services offered at UCI, or if you would like me to be a guest speaker!  

You can learn more about Urban Climate Innovations at my website: www.urbanclimateinnovations.org. The site includes my policy reports, articles, and testimonials from colleagues, globally, who have collaborated with me in the past.   

Thank you to Eco Women for giving me the opportunity to share my story about my career and about my company! Keep up the great work! 

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Ambika Chawla has professional experience in the areas of youth empowerment, climate change, urban development, and environmental law. She has collaborated with UN agencies, research institutes, and non-profit organizations in six countries across the globe. Ambika is passionate about advocating for healthy, equitable, climate resilient, and green towns and cities around the world.

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on 5 Books to Inspire Climate Action in 2021

By: Sydney O’Shaughnessy

With the first 100 days of the year successfully put behind us and Earth Day rapidly approaching, now is the best time to crack open a new book, dig deep, and recommit ourselves to climate action. 

However, with a crisis as large as climate change, it can be challenging to know where to start. To help inspire you, we’ve curated a list of five books, written by women, on the state of the climate, the solutions in play, and the pathways forward. The novels provide scientific, political, and ecological insights without sacrificing the unique human elements that make the fight against climate change so dire. 

So grab some tea and let’s get reading!

#1 – All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis

Edited by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Dr. Katharine K. Wilkinson

All We Can Save puts women at the heart of climate change discussions by highlighting the work of dozens of women environmental leaders. Self-described as “the feminist climate renaissance,” this anthology of essays and poems hopes to challenge the status quo on how to tackle the climate crisis.  

“It’s time to wholeheartedly support those who are lighting the way to a just and livable future and to grow feminist climate leadership across all genders and in every corner,” the website states.

Edited by two climate leaders, this novel is an excellent way to get your feet wet about the breadth of climate change and the solutions in place to move forward.

#2 – Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

By: Robin Wall Kimmerer

A household favorite, Braiding Sweetgrass is a must read for those wanting to feel more connected to the natural rhythms of the planet. Author Robin Wall Kimmerer connects her experiences as an Indigenous woman and mother with her career in botany to illustrate how to listen to the lessons other living beings have to offer.

“In a rich braid of reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world.” 

From flowers to fruit and sweetgrass to frogs, this novel pushes the reader to hear the language of the Earth and live in harmony with the natural world.

#3 – On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal

By: Naomi Klein

From bestselling author and activist Naomi Klein, On Fire, brings the climate crisis to the here and now. Often discussed as a future problem, climate change is impacting communities around the world. This series of essays details the very real and present threat of climate change while also presenting valuable insights for how to combat this issue. 

“With dispatches from the ghostly Great Barrier Reef to the smoke-choked skies of the Pacific Northwest, to post-hurricane Puerto Rico, to a Vatican waking up to the case for radical change, recognizing that we will rise to the existential challenge of climate change only if we are willing to transform the systems that produced this crisis — On Fire captures the burning urgency of the climate crisis, as well as the fiery energy of a global movement demanding a catalytic Green New Deal.”

#4 – What Can I Do?: The Truth About Climate Change and How to Fix It

By: Jane Fonda

A biography by Jane Fonda, What Can I Do details Fonda’s journey from climate despair to climate action. This novel combines speeches from community organizers and climate scientists with Fonda’s personal reflections on her life as an activist. 

“This is the last possible moment in history when changing course can mean saving lives and species on an unimaginable scale. It’s too late for moderation.”

A call-to-action, this novel also sets the tone for the future of environmental activism and details specific step-by-step ways individuals can join the fight.

#5 – No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference

By: Greta Thunberg

No One Is Too Small is a collection of speeches given by Thunberg throughout her quick rise as a youth climate leader. Thunberg has inspired millions of people to act through her global Fridays for Future protests and has spoken with numerous governments urging them to take immediate action on climate change.

“Her book is a rallying cry for why we must all wake up and fight to protect the living planet, no matter how powerless we feel. Our future depends upon it.”

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Sydney O’Shaughnessy is the Communications Associate for the Environmental and Energy Study Institute. She has degrees in environmental science and journalism and primarily focuses her work around highlighting community-driven climate change solutions.

posted by | on , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Book Review: Equality for Women = Prosperity for All

By Olivia Oudinot

“What walks with four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three in the evening is no longer just “man,” even generically. For we need both arms to be strong if we are to crawl; we need both legs to be of equal length and strength if we are to walk and to run. And in old age we all need the additional support of society, whether we are men or women.”

Equality for Women = Prosperity for All, written by Augusto López-Claros and Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, is an underrated gem. Goodreads shows it’s been read by 28 people – compare that to The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, which has been read by 402,399 people (Goodreads has about 90 million members). 

Created with RNI Films app. Preset ‘Fuji Astia 100F’

My aim is to spread this powerful treatise throughout the D.C. community – and hopefully beyond.

I can’t imagine this book was easy to write. It discusses at length deep issues around the freedom and rights of women – looking at the different forms of violence towards women, tackling the question of culture, addressing how women are perceived when they do work in different countries, and pinpointing the costs of inequality. 

Presented with powerful statistics and studies, this non-fiction collaboration provides a powerful narrative about the importance of the equality of women in relation to the economic prosperity of countries. All in all, as the book states, it does not make any financial (and of course ethical) sense to prevent women from growing and contributing to a country’s workforce. It is completely detrimental to everyone – whether man or woman, teenager or child, politician or farmer – when a woman’s rights are oppressed by society.

One connection that is not discussed at length in the book, however, is the relationship between gender equality and climate change. Gender equality is a powerful driver towards social justice, growth, and achieving sustainable development, according to many organizations worldwide such as the United Nations. “Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world,” as stated in Sustainable Development Goal Number 5.

One of the ways to successfully combat the impacts of climate change and to respond to our current ‘climate emergency’ is to pursue social innovation. As we’ve known, we can’t continue “business as usual.” Organizations need to collaborate in creative ways to invent different business models. One key component of successful social innovation is collective impact, which brings together various stakeholders from the private sector, government, and nonprofits to obtain different perspectives. 

However, if there is no gender equality in those organizations, at the highest levels, then how are women supposed to achieve effective solutions if they are not part of the conversation? To ignore the perspective of women is to lose out on opportunities for valuable and insightful contributions. With the urgency our Earth is facing, this is not something to carelessly overlook. 

Overall, I encourage everyone to read Equality for Women = Prosperity for All. It will help you understand more about the issues that women face around the world, and what can be done in the pursuit to eradicate gender inequality.

Olivia Oudinot is a French-American writer and Social Innovation Program Developer. Her research and consulting services focus on sustainability, climate change, women and leadership and social innovation. She holds a Master of Science in Sustainability and Social Innovation from HEC Paris, and a Bachelor of Commerce in Management from Concordia University.