Spotlight: FoodTank Challenges Global Food System to Improve

Danielle Nierenberg is an expert on agriculture and food and co-founder of Food Tank: The Food Think Tank She is an expert on sustainable agriculture and food issues. She recently spent two years traveling to more than 35 countries across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia looking at environmentally sustainable ways of alleviating hunger and poverty. Her knowledge of global agriculture issues has been cited widely in more than 3,000 major publications including The New York Times, USA Today, the International Herald Tribune, The Washington Post, BBC, the Guardian(UK), the Mail and Guardian (South Africa), the East African (Kenya), TIME magazine, Reuters, Agence France Presse, Voice of America, the Times of India, and other major publications. Danielle worked for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic and also currently serves as the food security adviser for Citizen Effect (an NGO focused on sustainable development projects worldwide).

There is no doubt that the food system is broken. More than one billion people are obese, nearly one billion people go to bed hungry every night, and at least two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Roughly a half-century after the Green Revolution—the first systematic, large-scale attempt to reduce poverty and hunger throughout the world—a large share of the human family is still chronically without food, reliable income, and access to education. And over the last 30 years, the western food system has been built to promote over-consumption of a few consolidated commodities and has failed to be the harbinger of health as it spreads around the world. The epidemic of obesity in industrialized and developing countries alike is increasing the risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other maladies. Ironically, the “solution” to hunger—increasing production of starchy staple crops—has also created the problem of obesity.

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Spotlight: Business Innovation at the Nexus of Resource Needs

Raj Rajan, RD&E vice president of Global Sustainability at Ecolab, helps drive top-line growth for Ecolab and its customers by embedding sustainability considerations into innovative systems. He has 28 years of experience in environmental process engineering and water cycle management for the food, beverage, chemical, petroleum, utility, transportation, energetics and paper industries. 

To-date, the private sector has approached climate change, population growth and resource scarcity as issues of risk management and mitigation. But are there also growth opportunities for businesses that adapt to tackle those mounting global challenges?

Ecolab thinks so. Following its merger with Nalco in December 2011, Ecolab has aligned its newly integrated organization around providing and protecting clean water, safe food, abundant energy and healthy environments.

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Calvert’s Funds, Reports Raise Adaptation Investment Awareness

Bennett Freeman, Senior Vice President, Sustainability Research and Policy, leads Calvert’s Sustainability Research Department and oversees its company research and analysis as well as its policy and advocacy work. From 2003 until early 2006, he led global communications and public relations firm Burson-Marsteller’s Global Corporate Responsibility practice advising multinationals on policy development, stakeholder engagement and communications strategies related to human rights, labor rights and sustainable development. During the Clinton Administration he served in three positions as a presidential appointee in the State Department, most recently as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor from 1999 to early 2001.

“Calvert Investments has been working on the issue of climate change for quite some time,” said Bennett Freeman in his interview for the GAIN Insight series.

More specifically, Freeman said upwards of a decade has passed since Calvert began seriously including climate change as a part of the investment conversation. 

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Spotlight: Insurance Assessment of Natural Events Ramped Up Since 90s

Frank Nutter, Reinsurance Association of America (RAA) President, has held his role at RAA since 1991. He currently serves on the Board of the International Hurricane Research Center; the Advisory Board of the Center for Health and the Global Environment, and adjunct to the Harvard University Medical School; the Council of the American Meteorological Society; and the Board of the University Center for Atmospheric Research sponsored by the National Science Foundation. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of the OECD’s International Network for the Financial Management of Large Scale Disasters and has served on the Board of the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences.

Global Adaptation Institute (GAIN): Tell us about the Reinsurance Association of America (RAA).

Frank NutterFrank Nutter, Reinsurance Association of America President: The Reinsurance Association of America represents reinsurance companies that conduct business in the United States. Reinsurance companies insure insurance companies. They don’t deal with consumers at all, but they really become part of the capital financing mechanism for the industry. And, one major segment of what the industry does is provide financial support for insurance companies for natural catastrophe – earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, large events that have multi-billion dollar consequences for consumers.

It is fairly common that 50 to 60 percent of those losses by insurance companies have probably been insured by reinsurance companies. So, if you take Hurricane Katrina for example, something like 60 percent of the losses that the insurance industry paid were ultimately born by reinsurance companies.

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Spotlight: Higher Ground Foundation Makes a Market in Climate Vulnerability Reduction

Karl Schultz is co-founder of the Higher Ground Foundation, a not-for-profit company dedicated to creating a market for climate adaption investment in developing countries.  Higher Ground Foundation’s vision is a voluntary market for climate adaption projects, where projects earn climate vulnerability reduction ‘credits’ that can be bought and sold, similar to the voluntary carbon market’s verified emission reductions (VERs).  The concept is attracting global interest, with a number of partnerships forming with development agencies, NGOs, scientific bodies and private companies.  Schultz has started several businesses, including Climate Mitigation Works and Energy Edge, and co-founded Green Gas International, a clean energy technology and investment company now with over 450 employees around the world. Prior to that, he managed domestic and international climate programs at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Submitted by: Higher Ground Foundation

The Need for Adaptation Investment in Developing Countries

Climate adaptation finance is critical for many reasons. While everyone will be impacted by climate change, it will be the poor in developing countries most vulnerable to changes. With a lack of financial and technical resources, they will struggle to protect themselves from a growing number of threats, including more frequent and intense storms, droughts, sea level rise and the migration of vector-borne diseases.  The estimated costs of adaptation extend to hundreds of billions per year.  As a result, the international community has set a target of US$100 billion annually to fund both mitigation and adaptation. 

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