Facing Climate Change with Resilience Tech

Overview During the resilience conference program at CES 2020, experts in the industry spoke about the largest societal challenges and how the Global Tech Challenge aims to address them.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, owner and producer of CES, has partnered with the World Bank on a Global Tech Challenge in an effort to mobilize the tech community to solve key development issues, including facing the issues created by climate change with resilience technology.

The TechEmerge Resilience India challenge seeks to use emerging technologies to enhance community resilience and infrastructure in India in wake of the ongoing effects of climate change.


Five Solution Areas

The World Bank has identified five key challenges in need of solutions:

  • Risk information and analytics

  • Post-disaster restoration

  • Hyperlocal hazard detection and early warning systems

  • Local resilience and response

  • Risk financing

Proactive solutions will save lives though progressive disaster preparedness and risk reduction. In CTA’s whitepaper Disruptive Tech for Climate Change Resilience, the World Bank laid out the necessary framework for effective response.

“There’s a need for solutions that support people not only in surviving a disaster, but also in bouncing back better, so they don’t irretrievably lose infrastructure, services or sink back into poverty,” said Atishay Abbhi, disaster risk management specialist with the World Bank’s Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management unit.

“They also need better systems to gather and analyze information, and communicate timely warnings, so that vulnerable communities can take action to reduce their risk and accelerate recovery.”

How Many Communities Are Vulnerable to Climate Change?

Just how many communities are vulnerable to the devastating effects of climate change? Elyse Winer, marketing partner at Material Impact, discussed global impact during the Disrupting Tech for Disrupting Climate Change conference session at CES 2020.

“It's estimated that about 800 million people — that's 11% of the global populace — is actually vulnerable to climate change impacts, like droughts, rising temperatures, rising sea level and extreme weather events,” Winer said.

Though 11% may seem small, when scaled to population density, numbers reveal a harsher reality.

For every dollar invested in building resilience infrastructure, it saves six to $11 in post disaster repairs.

Boutheina Guermazi, Director of Digital Development,
World Bank Group

Saber Chowdhury, a member of parliament in Bangladesh, joined Winer to share how widespread the effects are.

“Come 2050, one in every five people in Bangladesh is going to be displaced,” Chowdhury said.

Nigeria, one of the most densely populated countries in Africa with approximately 200 million people, is in its own displacement crisis. Whereas Bangladesh is suffering from severe flooding, Nigeria is faced with rapid desertification from severe droughts.

Mohammed Alkali, managing director and CEO of the North East Development Commission, discussed the problem during the Peace Building and Technology panel. According to Alkali, approximately 23 million people, or 10 percent of the country, live in the affected area. He estimates 2 million people have already been displaced. 

Tech Paving the Road to Resilience

Dependable infrastructure, both physical and digital, is necessary to deter this displacement. Boutheina Guermazi, director of digital development, World Bank Group, emphasized the need for digital infrastructure during the Ensuring Connectivity During Disasters panel.

“For every dollar invested in building resilience infrastructure, it saves six to $11 in post disaster repairs,” said Guermazi. “Technology is just one element of the discussion. We need innovation in business models. We need innovation in financing models.”

The road to complete resilience isn’t immediate, but technology will hasten implementation.

 “Our global challenge with the World Bank Group calls on tech companies around the world to create solutions to some of our biggest problems,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “And we look forward to witnessing their revolutionary ideas that will change the world.”

The TechMerge Resilience India challenge will launch in February. Sign up to be notified when applications open.

The Digital Health Challenge is accepting applications until February 25, 2020.

The Gender Equality Challenge will open soon. Sign up to be notified.

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