From moving house, finishing multi-year projects, eating tapas, to meeting new project partners, publishing papers, and seeing climate change being marched on the streets – a lot has happened in 2019, and we asked our team what their best bits were:
After seeing the mushrooming of ‘environmental FinTech’ firms & their headline grabbing reports in the past year or so, I was particularly comforted by the discomfort and concern expressed at the Public Sector Green Finance Summit held on 17 Oct 2019 (I spoke on the panel on ‘climate science and its implications for the financial sector’ ) by many from the financial services sector over the ‘wild west’ nature of the climate risk services landscape with a strong call for the establishment of standards. Even more encouragingly, I found in my interactions with others that Acclimatise has been recognised as a trusted service provider to work with by both public and private sector clients.
My greatest Acclimatise related achievement has been helping to design and deliver a three day training workshop for financial institutions in Mexico. This initiative was organised under a joint initiative between GIZ and the IDB, which are both supporting the Asociación de Bancos de México (ABM) increasing their institutional capacity and their ability to govern and manage environmental, social, and climate related risks. There were over 40 attendees from over 20 financial institutions and the feedback we received from GIZ, IDB, ABM and participants was very very good!
Against a backdrop of rising alarm as the severity of climate change and its impacts became increasingly apparent and global emissions continued to rise, 2019 held some very real bright spots for me. It was the year, perhaps more than any other, when climate change messages really registered. This manifested in movements such as Fridays for Future, School Strikes, and XR, but also in a wider acceptance of climate change as a crucial issue – the significance of this shift should not be underestimated, in the recent UK general elections, for instance, every party manifesto included a commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.
For Acclimatise’s communications work (helping clients communicate about adaptation and resilience in a way that resonates with their audience) 2019 was the year of ‘resilience’. Resilience approaches to managing uncertain shocks and stresses from climate change are not new, but more companies and organisations are now making efforts to apply resilience concepts in practice. A key part of this is being able to communicate them effectively. Critical infrastructure development is an area where we’ve been especially active in this regard. Our work with the Asian Development Bank’s Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF) is reaching its most exciting phase. The UCCRTF is a unique fund that helps to integrate resilience into ADB’s loan projects, over the last year Acclimatise has been working with partners to communicate the effectiveness of resilience approaches across the project development cycle in 25 secondary cities in South and South-East Asia. With much of the groundwork complete, next year will see a series of papers on this topic so watch this space. Another highlight has been our work with the pioneering Resilience Shift project, Acclimatise is producing a series of case studies about applying resilience concepts in practice and the first of these was finalised just before the Christmas holidays. We’re looking forward to launching this, and preparing two further studies, in early 2020.
This year, my highlight has been the enthusiasm we have seen in the banking and investment sectors as they start their physical climate risk analysis journeys. It’s been a privilege guiding these firms and I look forward to much more of this in 2020!
I have also really enjoyed working with and learning from staff in different parts of Acclimatise, from our organisational learning team to our technical analytical directors.
I would say one of my most important work moments this year is fairly recent, and it was attending my first COP in Madrid. It’s a big event for anyone who works in the climate change sector and it’s great to be able to see in real life what you hear about in the news every year. Seeing so many people mobilised for the same cause gives you hope and makes you feel like there are actually individuals committed to doing something concrete, in spite of politicians being stuck in their short-term agendas and unable to agree between themselves on the way forward. I also enjoyed the VIP vibe of the COP, where I saw Greta Thunberg, Al Gore and John Kerry. And finally, I love Madrid and it was great to spend some time in Spain’s capital and enjoy a few tapas!
For me, this past year has seen:
- the end of a long and exciting journey building capacities about loss and damage associated to climate change all around the world.
- Consolidation of Acclimatise as one of the key actors for building climate resilience in Latin America, with very exciting projects in Mexico, Chile, Honduras and Brazil.
- Contributing to increasing climate resilience of commercial banks in Mexico, South Africa and Honduras through supporting them towards the implementation of the TCFD´s recommendations and identifying opportunities for resilient investments.
My highlights of 2019 have been:
- Having six new members of staff joins us over the last 6 months
- The 2019 Acclimatise Strategy Event – full of optimism, enthusiasm, commitment, desire – I can’t believe all these amazing people work for Acclimatise!
- I actually think the private and financial services sectors have woken up to climate change.
- #Schoolstrike4climate – makes me proud of our youth but also intensely angry that my generation has not delivered
- Extinction Rebellion – whilst I have some concerns with their messages, I do support the mobilisation of the public and will always remember John Lymes a 91 years young Quaker standing up for what he believes in.
My 2019 Acclimatise highlight was wrapping up my first project with the Climate Finance team to deliver a climate risk analysis training to banks in Mexico and South Africa – this first project was complemented by the nuances of recently moving to Oxford, UK and joining the company which made the entire process that much more rewarding!