News  |  December 14, 2022

Drawdown Lift: The year in review

by Dan Jasper

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Farmers at work in Nawalparasi, Nepal.

CGIAR Climate

2022 was a busy year for Drawdown Lift, which focuses on promoting climate solutions that generate multiple benefits for poverty alleviation. From publishing a first-of-its-kind report to meeting with officials and civil society leaders and presenting at COP27, Drawdown Lift bridged important gaps between the climate and sustainable development fields. Here are the highlights.

In March, the Drawdown Lift team published a landmark report, Climate–Poverty Connections: Opportunities for synergistic solutions at the intersection of planetary and human well-being. The report provides concrete evidence of how climate change solutions can contribute to alleviating multiple dimensions of poverty in rural communities in Africa and South Asia. The report highlights 28 climate solutions that leaders and practitioners in low- and middle-income countries can prioritize as they address climate impacts, advance sustainable development, and pursue renewable energy pathways.

The report was presented to a wide range of climate experts and climate-focused development professionals representing climate finance institutions, multilateral and bilateral development  institutions, philanthropies, impact investors, NGOs, and more. Officials, civil society leaders, and climate experts across the world lauded the usefulness and timeliness of the report. “The findings outlined in the report are really important to our work,” remarked Mikko Ollikainen, head of the UNFCCC’s Adaptation Fund, “as they delineate the interconnections between climate solutions, the improvements of livelihoods, and other benefits, and therefore advance the well-being of the communities that we serve.”

Similarly, Moffatt Ngugi, natural resources officer with USAID/Mozambique and Lift Advisory Council member, commented that the report contains “integrated work that we all need to know about.” Monica Jain, lead evaluation specialist for the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) and former Lift Advisory Council member, noted that “this is a massive evidence review highlighting the co-benefits of climate mitigation solutions and human well-being. It can guide policymakers, funders, and researchers for future investments.” 

Following the report’s publication, the Drawdown Lift team embarked on a fast-paced (mostly virtual) tour promoting the findings and recommendations. Throughout the year, the team had more than 60 public and media engagements and wrote 20 articles and op-eds, in addition to producing a high-level analysis of Nationally Determined Contributions in eight African countries. Interviews and quotes from the team appeared in outlets such as Al Jazeera, Scientific American, The Revelator, The Drop, Atmos Magazine, and Tree Speech podcast, among others. Additionally, Drawdown Lift summarized the report in a short video that was screened during several presentations for climate professionals. 

The team also worked to ensure the results of Lift’s work are actionable for climate-focused public and private decision-makers. Drawdown Lift staff held approximately 40 meetings with external stakeholders, including the Adaptation Fund, Global Environment Facility, World Bank, USAID, Save the Children, the Gates Foundation, Stewart Investors, International Gender Champions, and many more. Through meetings and presentations, we continue to raise awareness for climate solutions that can help address the world’s climate and poverty crises simultaneously. 

These efforts culminated at COP27, where program staff and some Lift Advisory Council members presented at side events and met with key stakeholders, including ministry officials from Pakistan, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Uganda, and Tanzania as well as representatives from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the International Water Management Institute, and Arizona State University. Drawdown Lift director Kristen P. Patterson spoke on a panel hosted by the World Resources Institute titled “Fast-Action Mitigation to Slow Warming in this Decisive Decade.” The Lift team also organized a panel discussion at the Locally Led Adaptation pavilion. That event, “Triple impact: Prioritizing climate solutions that advance adaptation, mitigation, and poverty alleviation,” featured speakers from BRAC, One Acre Fund, Save the Children, and USAID.

This year, Drawdown Lift also welcomed a new member of the team, Daniel Jasper, to serve as a policy advisor, and added new members to its Advisory Council: Rajib Ghosal (regional senior technical advisor, climate change, Save the Children, Asia-Pacific) and Cheikh Mbacké Faye (director, African Population and Health Research Center, West Africa Regional Office).

As we look ahead to 2023, our ultimate objective remains clear—to convince the world that we don’t have to choose between addressing climate change and alleviating poverty. As Patterson says, “We must prioritize climate solutions that generate substantial benefits for well-being to boost equity and usher in prosperity for populations least responsible for the climate crisis in Africa and South Asia.” In the year ahead, we plan to host a number of high-level webinars, private convenings, and public events and will continue to share additional research on climate solutions that also alleviate poverty. We invite you to stay tuned for these events, articles, and much more via the Project Drawdown newsletter.

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More Insights

Profile  |  January 24, 2023
Drawdown Science team member Yusuf Jameel
Drawdown Science Profile: Yusuf Jameel
This article is the third in a series introducing the members of Project Drawdown’s new science team. Yusuf Jameel joined Project Drawdown in 2021 as a research manager for Drawdown Lift. In January 2023 he transitioned to the Drawdown Science team as associate scientist, data science. A multidisciplinary scientist with experience in water resources, public health, data analytics, and science communication, he’s passionate about finding solutions to climate change and bridging the gap between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Yusuf obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Utah. Please welcome Yusuf as he shares his thoughts on growing up on the banks of the Ganges River, enhancing human well-being through the adoption of climate solutions, porcupine hair, and more. Q: When people ask you what you do with Project Drawdown, what do you tell them?  A. As a member of the science team, I work on climate solutions using my experience in data analysis, especially on solutions that also address the food–energy–water nexus. I also work on translating the science in a way that makes it widely accessible.  Q: Of all of the things you could be doing, why did you choose to join Project Drawdown?   A: Project Drawdown is on a mission to actually address the biggest problem the world is facing today, climate change. I was really impressed by the book. It was the first to lay out that yes, we can address climate change—it's not just about gloom and doom, it’s also about opportunity. Project Drawdown addresses climate in a way that’s multidimensional, promotes the best science, addresses the different audiences, and passes the mic. That really motivates me. Q: What do you consider some of the biggest obstacles to implementing and scaling up climate solutions?  A: First is unlocking the finance to fund climate solutions globally. We need capital from the private sector, from banks divesting from fossil fuels, and we need to invest in green solutions. Another challenge is politics. We need to think more altruistically. This is a global challenge requiring everyone to join hands, yet it has not been the case so far. The good news is, public perception is changing. Hopefully politics will change, and more capital will be funneled into climate solutions. Q: OK, time for a break. What’s your favorite food? A: I would go with my comfort food, and that’s biryani. It’s a big tradition in South Asian countries, and if you ask anyone in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, biryani is probably one of the top dishes. It’s not the healthiest dish, but it’s just so comforting.  Q: I’m sure you have many, but can you tell us about one superpower you bring to this job? A: I’m a jack of all trades. Whether it’s high-level thinking, brainstorming ideas, or actually doing the work, I’m comfortable doing it all. I’m also adaptable. If a situation requires me to step up and take the lead I can, or I can step back and follow.  Q: What's a childhood experience that relates to the work you're doing today?  A: I grew up on the banks of the River Ganges. Every now and then there would be flooding. As a result, many people would go through an annual cycle of losing crops and be entrenched in a cycle of poverty, unable to get out. This had a profound effect on me. When I started reading about climate change and seeing flooding events become more and more intense, I recognized the need to address climate and development holistically.  Q: What’s your favorite Drawdown Solution?  A: There are so many of them! I really like Distributed Solar Photovoltaics and Reduced Food Waste, but my favorite is Clean Cooking. I think that solution can revolutionize the lives of billions of people in the world, especially young girls. It not only addresses climate but also vastly improves health, addresses gender equality, and opens up economic opportunities. If we can implement clean cooking and distributed solar, we’ll see huge changes in the lives of billions of people globally.  Q: Time for another break. If you were a nonhuman animal, what animal would you be?  A: As a kid I had short hair that was like vertical hair, as if I had had an electric shock. So many of my friends called me Porcupine. People  would rub my hair all the time as it felt like velvet. Now I keep my hair long.  Q: What gives you hope?  A: I derive my hope from two things. First, we’re rapidly advancing technology—a lot of people from across the world are putting their effort into finding and implementing the best and most important solutions to address climate change. Second,  when I was at COP27, I saw that young people are really leading the movement. That gives me hope that we can do meaningful work on this very important but challenging issue. Q: Anything else you’d like to share?  A: I like nature. I especially like mountains. This is something I realized very late in life, maybe because I grew up in cities with very little nature around. When I moved to Utah, I started going to the mountains. I realized how peaceful and how nice it is, and I can’t not talk about it.  As human societies are getting more urbanized,  a lot of us, especially young people who live in large metropolises, are cut off from nature. And I hope they reconnect with nature. We need to appreciate nature and biodiversity much more than we do. Once it’s gone, it’s not coming back. We need to love it, respect it, and protect it.
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