I’m in Tarrytown, NY, at the annual strategic retreat of the Green Group CEOs. A fitting location from which to send this memo:
To: All progressive climate donors interested in exponentially advancing the cause
From: Suzanne Ehlers, President & CEO, Population Action International
Subject: Invest in PAI, a global leader in promoting women’s access to contraception
The Bridgespan Group has just put out a compact and pithy piece about the need to plan for the likely impact of climate change, and invest in efforts to help the most marginalized among us be less vulnerable and more resilient.
In other words, the business case for your investment has been written up, and it is as tailored to PAI’s approach as it can be without being suspicious (i.e., we did not ghost write the piece, nor were we consulted for it).
For the past five years, PAI has been working with local partners in places like Malawi, Bangladesh and Peru. We have supported efforts to bring together diverse coalitions at the country level to talk about climate adaptation. We have helped build local knowledge and expertise on these connections. We have funded homegrown media and communications efforts to put these issues front and center in a way that helps average citizens read, learn and get engaged.
Our efforts have contributed to building the field around adaptation. We believe in reducing greenhouse gases, but that is not where PAI’s value-added is. And in order to participate in one of the biggest and most pressing challenges of our time—climate change—one needs to determine niche and unique value-added. We did that homework.
Our efforts have put women in the lead as stakeholders, decision-makers and advocates. Is family planning the solution for all climate challenges? No, but family planning is an incredible tool for women to advance their own empowerment efforts and strengthen their position in communities. It is truly a multiplier investment for nations, not to mention a relatively low-cost and low-hanging opportunity.
We have helped reframe the debate around people—especially women and young people—and deepened an appreciation for the social benefits that can emerge from thoughtful and holistic engagement on climate change.
In looking at extreme storms such as Sandy, at the devastation today in Oklahoma, and at potentially explosive situations like Keystone, it is clear that climate is not just an “environmental issue.” It is a wide-ranging and potentially transformative opportunity that can and should pull together any activist anywhere who is committed to the redirection of the planet. For people everywhere.