Overcoming 2020 SDG setbacks with Data-Driven Development: Weather Data, Tools and Insights for Adaptation to Climate Change

As we close out 2020, it is worth reflecting on the big plans in addressing climate change that were largely derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic we saw many of the gains in development over the past decade erased by lockdowns, restricted trade, high unemployment, food insecurity, domestic conflict and a 5% reduction in global GDP. However, COVID-19 did show us five lessons on how to respond to global threats that we can apply towards addressing the existential threat posed by Climate Change (CC).

sustainable development goals
  1. Delay is Costly, So Make Mitigation a Priority, Now – We have seen several manifestations of CC in the wildfires in the western USA, flooding in Asia, drought in southern Africa to name a few. aWhere’s data and analytics gave visibility to these issues well before severe damage occured yet no action was taken.
  2. Find Ways to Get Citizens on Board – General public awareness on weather impacts has increased but more can be done to visualize these changes and the action required to mitigate and adapt to CC associated with greenhouse gasses. aWhere has been building national capacity to empower government and company analysts to understand the magnitude of weather shifts over the past 15 years.
  3. Inequality Can Lead to Worse Outcomes – As with COVID, CC will have a greater impact on marginalized communities with fewer resources to respond to global threats. aWhere has conducted case studies for countries to help them understand where weather changes will most impact poor, rural communities and low-cost interventions to reduce loss of life, property and natural resources. 
  4. Global Problems Necessitate (Global) CollaborationAs with COVID-19 testing, we need data and analytical tools to understand the risk posed by CC to optimize our resources to improve livelihoods and make investments in sustainable development in service of achieving the SDGs. aWhere’s global weather data with stationarity enables these insights to be generated and statistically analyzed to weigh options and reduce global risks posed by CC. 
  5. Scientific Policy Advice is Never Value-Free – Citizens have felt disoriented when the ‘facts’ changed regarding COVID and the same is true with CC. To address this, robust and vetted weather data delivered at a local level is a powerful tool to address this issue, especially when accurate weather data is placed at the fingertips of citizens.

Countries and companies are recognizing the importance of Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) in delivering on the SDGs. Having visibility to the impact of global challenges such as COVID and Climate Change are key for us to move in concert towards a sustainable and equitable future. As a Benefit Corporation, aWhere and its partners are  empowering all of us to understand our world better and take action on CC. Please join us on this critical journey towards collectively realizing the SDGs over the next decade.

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