The Rockefeller Foundation has announced a five-year, $70 million commitment to build the resilience of communities most likely to be affected by climate change.
The foundation's Climate Change Resilience initiative aims to develop the ability of communities to manage and plan for the effects of climate change and to make sure that planning includes the most vulnerable citizens. Since building resilience requires actions on multiple levels and scales, the foundation expects to partner with governments, other foundations and donors, nongovernmental organizations, and groups from the private sector.
One component of the initiative will focus on Asian cities. According to the Population Reference Bureau, more than 60 percent of the increase in the world's urban population in the next thirty years will occur in Asia, which already has a larger urban population than all other regions of the world combined. In addition, a recent study of populations at risk for sea-level rise noted that eight of the top ten countries likely to be affected are in Asia.
Another component will focus on raising awareness in the United States and exploring relevant solutions. The destruction in recent years caused by hurricanes, record heat waves, and wildfires, as well as the introduction of climate adaptation plans in Seattle, New York City, and California, underscore the increasing importance of the need to expand domestic efforts to build resilience to climate change. Part of the effort will require developing a shared agenda between groups working on climate change mitigation as well as those working on building resilience to climate change.
Africa, where vulnerability to climate change is very high, will also be a focal point of the initiative. Given the dependence on rain-fed agriculture in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the growing season there could decrease as much as 20 percent, according to a study by the International Livestock Research Institute.
"While climate change will affect all of us, it will affect every aspect of life for poor people in particular — the type of food they eat, where they live, the water they drink, and even their jobs," said foundation president Judith Rodin. "Simply put, we see climate change as one of the most significant problems facing poor and vulnerable people today. Climate change must be integrated into poverty-reduction work, urban planning and development, public health, and agriculture — all sectors where the Rockefeller Foundation has experience, expertise, and networks."