Business of Climate Change Workshop

On Monday June 27th 2011, the Rockefeller Foundation and Intellecap co-hosted a workshop at the Rockefeller Foundation in New York on “The Business of Climate Change”- focused on adaptation and resilience building in developing countries, especially in Asia.

While urban centers around the world are now dealing with the threats and challenges of climate change, developing cities are lagging in response due to limited resources and political resistance.  The business sector has a major opportunity to step in and close the gap.

The workshop discussions emphasized that cities must move toward adaptation and resilience to address climate change and de-emphasize the more conventional focus on mitigating carbon emissions.  Getting climate adaptation and resilience on the agendas of both city governments and business sector as economic opportunities presents a daunting challenge.

Below are some examples of interesting case studies of the private sector’s role in climate change adaptation and resilience. As stakeholders in our cities, businesses can: 1. Work with governments to implement programs; or 2. Plan for their own business continuity, solve a business problem while addressing the vulnerability of the urban poor in both habitat and employment.

1. A private integrated water management company employs rag pickers to collect waste.  This offers secure employment to some of most vulnerable urban dwellers, while steady flow of waste for the waste management company.

2. Employer-sponsored housing for the workers in the diamond cutting factories.  Such housing ensures retention of skilled labor and business continuity.

  • On the funding side, the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) (Huge Scott, Directory) engages private companies using competition to identify and fund innovative agri business projects.  The funding pipeline that AECF has implemented to stimulate and implement innovative ideas exclusively of the private sector currently focuses on sustainable agri-business and rural markets.  AECF offers grants and repayable grants to investees with 2 years of operating experience and requires the investee to contribute minimum of 50%.
  • From investment management side, Calvert Investments specializes in sustainable and responsible investment strategies, primarily through mutual funds and “venture capital”. The mutual fund approach encourages publicly traded companies to be more transparent and pursue opportunities related to climate change.  The venture approach invests in market based solutions to social, environmental and health challenges.

One clear conclusion was the need for better platforms to exchange knowledge.  The case studies and the workshop participants highlighted vast unexplored potential already in the community. Innovatively tapping into and disseminating this knowledge may be one new frontier in the business of climate change.

Further resources:

A report created by Intellecap on adaptation and resilience here.

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