Dear Partners in Resilience,
With the end of the year fast approaching, I see room for both optimism and worry. The urgency of the climate and biodiversity crisis is ever increasing and collides with the inertia of our business as usual economic and political systems. Increasing levels of conflict and violence are testing the limits of humanitarian action and global governance processes, all with tragic consequences. This year was also marked by the profound loss of our dear friend and mentor, Saleem Huq—a huge figure in GRP’s development, in resilience more broadly, and a global advocate for addressing loss and damage. His absence leaves a notable void, yet his legacy serves as a poignant reminder of the urgency in confronting global challenges.
Undoubtedly, it’s been a difficult year, however, I witnessed unprecedented conversations, commitments, actions, and investments in resilience. Usual and unusual suspects are increasing their involvement, as traction was evidenced at COP28 by commitments including the Global Goal on Adaptation, the Global Stocktake, and the coalition of eleven leading philanthropic funders that released a Call to Action to accelerate action on climate adaptation at COP28 and beyond. As a returning managing partner of the COP Resilience Hub, I am thrilled to see the Hub go from strength to strength as a critical feature of the COP and a key space for global resilience stakeholders. Latest policy updates included the first implementation report of the Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda, which portrays 30 global objectives to enhance resilience by 2030 and details progress in adaptation plans and policies.
I am proud that together with Partners, we have often set the tone for action. Personally, I am most inspired by our work that directly benefits people and communities. This year, the Resilient Agricultural Innovations for Nature (RAIN) Challenge supported by the fantastic Shockwave Foundation and the Munich Re Foundation took us to Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda, where we gained first hand insights into interventions by VERMIFARM (Rwanda), the Centre for Ecological Governance and Gender Initiatives (CEGGI) (Uganda), and MetaMeta (Kenya). From using earthworms to create organic fertiliser, to capacity development programs, to road runoff harvesting, these initiatives showcased inspiring community-led innovations. I am incredibly excited about the transformative potential of the RAIN projects in advancing resilience and promoting sustainable practices in their communities.
In 2023 we witnessed increasing action and commitments from private sector and finance stakeholders. The PREPARE Call to Action to the Private Sector, that GRP, together with USAID and with input from the Office of the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate launched at COP27, more than tripled by COP28 to encompass 31 companies and is testament to the fundamental need for partnerships to address long-standing gaps in climate adaptation. The report that BCG led with GRP and USAID, demonstrates the business imperative for adaptation and resilience, highlighting the need to protect businesses including the communities that comprise their customers and employees. The report evidenced that every dollar invested in implementing adaptation and resilience measures can yield $2 to $15 in financial benefits, and that companies that invest in adaptation and resilience are earning a median valuation of 9 times their revenue, sometimes reaching as high as 77 times.
This year has marked a leapfrog in efforts on resilience measurement and evidence. Together with USAID, we co-hosted the Resilience Evidence Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, the largest gathering to date of resilience, development evidence, and measurement professionals. The Forum brought together over 1200 people, both in person and online. Discussions took stock of the current state of resilience evidence, outlined principles and priorities when developing resilience strategies and interventions, and explored ways to scale evidence-based solutions. In our commitment to diversify the voices shaping resilience solutions, we also hosted the Knowledge into Use awards. The awards uncover creative and innovative ways of translating and using resilience knowledge, with three winners receiving 100,000 SEK each.
Bridging the gap between incremental and transformative resilience, our perspective in Nature Sustainability depicts how science today defines resilience as the capacity to live and develop with change and uncertainty, which is well beyond just the ability to ‘bounce back’ to the status quo. While the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the hyperconnectivity of our planet, the imperative to engage in whole systems approaches and utilise technology, partnerships, and diverse knowledge to navigate them seems to be finally gaining traction. This is further demonstrated by our work with our co-host and key science partner, the Stockholm Resilience Centre in developing a science brief on the current food crisis and five key actions for policy-makers to address it.
We are thrilled to witness the continued success of the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance, organisation which GRP helped to establish and continues to co-host in 2023. Our collaborative action includes contributions to the design and delivery of the third round of the Ocean Risk Innovation Challenge, as well as a report part of the Ocean Risk series on the critical role that sand plays in the oceanic system and how this might be harnessed to enable resilience.
At the end of 2023, we also began a fiscal sponsorship and hosting arrangement for Climate Resilience for All, a new gender-focused climate adaptation nonprofit dedicated to the protection of people and livelihoods from extreme heat and all its impacts.
GRP is ultimately powered by a small and nimble Secretariat, but I’m always inspired by the work that we do and the extent of our reach. I think we exemplify the power of partnerships and the above highlights are certainly not exhaustive of our activities. Thank you team – I’m honoured to have you all as my colleagues! On behalf of the Secretariat, I’d also like to extend our gratitude to our Partners – without you none of our actions would have the depth, breadth, and reach they do. We welcome you to stay engaged with us by subscribing to our newsletter and keeping a regular eye on our social media.
As we close the chapter on this year and eagerly anticipate the milestone of GRP’s 10th year, let’s carry forward the lessons learned, the collaborative spirit, and the resilience that defines us. While progress is being made, we are not moving fast enough – however, I’m driven by the urgency of the moment to ensure that our work reaches more scale in 2024 and beyond.
Warm wishes for a joyful holiday season to you and your loved ones and Happy New Year!
Nathanial (Nate) Matthews