Harnessing the Data Revolution for Climate Resilience: What You Should Know

Harnessing the Data Revolution for Climate Resilience: What You Should Know

AJF Financial Services was honored to attend a summit at The Ford Foundation (hosted by the State Department) entitled Harnessing the Data Revolution for Climate Resilience. The objectives of the summit, in broad terms, were twofold:

  1. Continue the momentum ignited by the adoption of the Paris Agreement/COP21 to combat climate change.
  2. Inform the public of initiatives underway that would link various forms of available data to enact more coordinated more effective solutions to abate climate change.

The summit provided a wealth of information, infographics and speakers over a two hour period; we feel there’s value in providing a synopsis of information discussed and resources available to continue the momentum of action. If you are interested in viewing the agenda please click here.

Inter-connectivity between Climate Change and Climate Resilience.[i]

“Climate Change” is a term that is well established within our lexicon, “Climate Resilience” is a term/concept that many may not be too familiar with; climate change is what is going on right now, climate resilience is the possibility of the future if we make a decision to act audaciously now via responding, adapting and reorganizing. The core of climate resilience is the marriage of data with actionable information, using data to effect change.  Abatement (actions taken to limit the magnitude or rate of long-term climate change) and resilience are necessary to address the risks of climate change.

“Without data climate resilience efforts will be hopeless”

– Joh Holdren White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Harnessing the Data Revolution

A majority of the summit talked about data in abstract and concrete measures, most of which were concentric to discussions around “Traditional Data” vs “Big Data”. Traditional Data is the stuff people, institutions and/or governments collect for a specific reason/time frame; Big Data is analytics completed via large data sets to reveal patterns, trends and associations relating to human behavior and interactions. Information is power, and the more accurate information we have as global collective the more power we have to act in real time as it relates to climate change/resilience.

The framework for traditional data and big data to work better together to tackle climate change are being built in concerted effort by numerous interested parties within the public and private sector; the most prolific at this point called the Partnership for Resilience & Preparedness (PREP).[ii]

PREP is a public-private consortium of fourteen governments and nine private organizations that connect planners with data they need to assess climate risks and prepare for climate impacts in their communities. PREP does this through:

  • Engagement - Promoting collaboration among data and information producers/users
  • Data – Reducing barriers to accessing, contributing and using data for climate resilience.
  • Platforms – Developing platforms to enhance access to and usability of climate-relevant data & information.

Some of the names associated with PREP at current are Amazon Web Services, Google, IBM, Microsoft, World Resources Institute, The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and NASA; it’s a logical expectation that this partnership will continue to accelerate as PREP’s mission becomes more widely known by additional parties.

What’s necessary for success?

PREPs mission is necessarily bold and audacious, in order to truly move the needle on climate resilience the following bullets must be addressed:

  • Partnerships across all sectors/walks of life and active participation (skin in the game) are necessary by all.
  • Accountability for managing partnerships.
  • Completeness/ accuracy of data collected and a spirit of global cooperation/standards.
  • Data collected relating to climate change/resilience needs to be translated into easily discernable actionable information.
  • Collecting data is one thing, collecting data and taking action is something completely different; PREPS mission is to ensure to ensure data is acted upon not archived.
  • The fierce urgency of the now to act now.

Connecting relevant data to individual people in different parts of the world is paramount; the issues of climate change/resilience vary between those who live within agrarian societies vs those who live in coastal area and/or those who live in urban cities, but at the end result affects us all the same!

At current data (big and traditional) as a concept is something many individuals do not connect with unless it’s relevant to their individual circumstances; individuals need to be empowered (with tools and information) to become active stakeholders (participants) of the ultimate solutions vs. reactive recipients of data/information.

The needs for effective partnerships across all sectors for PREP’s mission to succeed cannot be understated; currently the financial services sector isn’t represented within the partnership.  It’s imperative for the global financial sector to join the partnership and become participants in the drive towards climate resilience; the industry can provide a bevy of resources relevant to the data efforts collection of the partnership and provide unprecedented insight as a facilitator of capital. The global finance industry, by nature of being connected to virtually all other industries could also be an effective conduit of communication between individuals, corporations, governments and institutions.

Joint Declaration

All of the information presented throughout the summit culminated in the Joint Declaration on Harnessing the Data Revolution for Climate Resilience[iii] by the PREP and resolves to take the following concrete actions through data improvements:

  1. Mobilizing the public and private sectors to design data systems and deploy their data for climate resilience
  2. Accelerating efforts to support the open sharing, as appropriate, of historical climate and related weather, hydrologic, and oceanic data as well as information on severe weather trends and the associated economic, ecological, and social impacts
  3. Supporting work across the public and private sectors to encourage user-friendly, and, to the extent possible, open-source platforms that respond to the needs of resilience planners and implementers by providing easy and timely access to the best available and most relevant information for climate risk assessment and planning, including the development of early warning systems
  4. Increasing collaboration and innovation to identify and respond to information gaps and to integrate data from multiple sources
  5. Embracing common technical standards, open climate data standards, data interoperability, capacity-building efforts, and best practices for improving access to data that inform climate resilience decisions and help monitor progress
  6. Encouraging and supporting coordination among complementary initiatives related to climate resilience

If you’re interested in reading the full declaration please click here.

There is a great deal of work being done by many people in many places to address climate change on many fronts globally. We are of the view with an issue so pertinent to our existence/survival such as climate change -- there can never be enough efforts to course correct before we reach the point of no return! The Partnership for Resilience & Partnership is promising but just beginning; we look forward to participating in the conversation (whenever possible), sharing relevant insights from PREP and advocating on behalf of solutions that ultimately contribute positively towards climate resilience.

Andrew Friedman: Founder & President

AJF Financial Services, Inc.

*Securities offered through American Portfolio Financial Services. Member FINRA and SIPC. Investment Advisory services offered through AJF Financial which is not affiliated with APFS. AJF Financial Services, Inc. Is a SEC registered investment advisor.

*Opinions expressed are those of The Writer and AJF Financial Services, Inc., not necessarily those of American Portfolio Financial Services.


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*Securities offered through American Portfolios Financial Services. Member FINRA and SIPC.