How we can accelerate climate action to protect the world’s most vulnerable people

Image of people walking

The climate crisis is impacting the world’s most vulnerable people most, with climate action having never been more urgent. As we approach COP27, SNV has a clear vision about how the crisis must be tackled.

Simon O’Connell, CEO of SNV, is under no illusions about the scale of the challenge:

'Currently, over 825 million people go to bed hungry every single day. Over 90 million people are displaced globally. We’ve never been in such a serious situation in human history. And there's a projection of an additional hundred million people sliding into extreme poverty over the next ten years as a result of the climate crisis.'

'The impacts of the climate crisis affect most significantly those in fragile contexts. We need to ask how we can ensure adaptation in the face of this crisis? This is especially  important in those most fragile contexts where the largest number of people live in extreme poverty.'

The answers exist: better partnerships are key

At SNV, we know that the solutions exist. We have a real opportunity to drive lasting change to protect the people that are on the frontline of the climate emergency. Simon continues:

'What keeps me awake at night is that the answers to the problems we're working to address already exist. They exist and they've existed for some time. The reality is there are still barriers to our ways of working in terms of ‘projectisation’. Short timeframes, working in our individual boxes…we need to step out of those boxes. We must work in more flexible partnership configurations towards longer-term outcomes. That is how we're really going to generate deeper, larger-scale impacts.'

Technology at the heart of climate change adaptation

Harnessing digital solutions is the route to success, particularly in supporting vulnerable communities. Simon shares some examples:

'There are huge opportunities – just look at the technology that we already have at our fingertips. With support from the Netherlands Space Office, we developed a bundled service that uses geo-satellite data and enables access to information for pastoralists and farmers in the Sahel. It means that they receive information about the weather, know where forage can be found for their livestock, and where they need to move to for access to water supplies, in addition to an e-marketplace and digital finance solutions. There are huge opportunities for greater impact through the enabling of digital services.'

Global ideas, local impact

But it’s HOW these solutions are embedded that will make the difference. Technology alone is not enough. It is through local partnerships that innovations will deliver real, on-the-ground benefits.

Simon sums this up:

'A key message for us at COP27 is ‘think local’. Yes, there are tools and technologies that emanate from global structures and many of those tools and technologies have the potential to be more impactful than ever before. But they won't achieve the impacts that are so desperately needed unless they're embedded within the context and geographies where we are working.

'As SNV, we work in more than 20 countries around the world and have over 1,600 team members. More than 90 percent of those team members come from within the countries where we work. And we know that harnessing local knowledge and relationships within a local approach is intrinsic in any long-lasting solution.'