The Rockefeller Foundation, in New York, has pledged $70-million to help cities and towns around the world prepare for the potentially damaging effects of global climate change.
The five-year Initiative on Climate Change Resilience will have a special emphasis on helping poor areas develop strategies to confront the issue and the potential for increased flooding, severe droughts, and the spread of infectious diseases, such as malaria and cholera.
“While climate change will affect all of us, it will affect every aspect of life for poor people in particular — the type of food they eat, where they live, the water they drink, and even their jobs,” Judith Rodin, Rockefeller Foundation’s president, said in a statement. “Climate change must be integrated into poverty-reduction work, urban planning and development, public health and agriculture — all sectors where the Rockefeller Foundation has experience, expertise, and networks.”
One component of the foundation’s climate-change grant program will focus on Asian cities, which are experiencing major population growth at the same time that many stand to be negatively impacted by rising sea levels caused by climate change. Another focus is Africa, where droughts and changes to the growing season can affect agricultural practices.
In the United States, the program will pay for the development of climate-change adaptation plans for areas that stand to face increased hurricanes and wildfires.
The cause of global climate change is attracting increased philanthropic dollars. The Doris Duke Charitable Trust announced in April a $100-million, five-year commitment to combating the problem.
The Rockefeller effort, however, is the first major grant-making program to focus exclusively on confronting the outcomes of climate change and developing ways to adapt. Most philanthropic efforts in this area focus on exploring ways to mitigate global warming, such as efforts to reduce the carbon-dioxide emissions thought to contribute to climate change.
Says Vicki Arroyo, director of policy analysis at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, a charity in Arlington, Va.: “This kind of funding program, especially in the developing world which has such tremendous vulnerability and exposure to climate change, is a fabulous start.”
She adds, “Hopefully the projects that they are going to be developing on the ground will be good case studies for other parts of the world.”