Climate Change

These 9 diverse innovations are paving the way for climate justice 

Someone holding up a sign reading "Climate Justice Now"

The UpLink Climate Justice Challenge sought solutions from the communities most impacted by climate disasters.

Anna Huber
Impact Lead, Water & Health, UpLink, World Economic Forum
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  • Climate change has disproportionate impacts on disadvantaged communities.
  • The Climate Justice Challenge on UpLink sourced innovative ideas from communities most affected by climate disasters.
  • The selected 9 UpLink Top Innovators will receive support to scale their environmental and socio-economic solutions.

Climate justice acknowledges the disproportionate impact climate disasters have on underserved communities. While climate change affects us all, the impacts are not distributed fairly or equally. Today, Black, Hispanic and native American communities face a 50% higher wildfire risk in the US, and the death rate caused by air pollution is three times higher for Black Americans. Floods in the outskirts of densely populated cities in Brazil hit disadvantaged communities the most, such as the storms in 2020, which lead to deadly landslides.

The growing importance of addressing 'who' is being impacted by climate disasters can be seen across communities, governments, and companies: in 2021 Salesforce announced $300 million for climate justice and ecosystem restoration, while the Bezos Earth Fund pledged $300 million for climate justice. A few weeks later, the biggest protest at COP26 with over 120,000 people was solely dedicated to climate justice.

As climate disasters are increasing in frequency and scale, it is crucial to involve and listen to most affected communities during global climate dialogues.

In light of this, the Climate Justice Challenge sought solutions from the communities most impacted by climate disasters. The Challenge was launched on UpLink during COP26, alongside Salesforce, Alix Partners, Fundación Avina, Global Shapers Auckland, Global Shapers Port of Spain Hub, UNHCR, VillageCapital, Schwab Foundation, COVID Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs and Climate-KIC.

After a careful review of all submissions by experts, a cohort of 9 Top Innovators have been selected. They are based in five different continents, and offer solutions across the areas of energy, food, water, shelter, deforestation, academia and grant mobilisation.

Over the next months, this cohort will have the opportunity to learn from each other, dive into the UpLink network as well as participate in diverse sessions. UpLink is dedicated to supporting the innovators in gaining visibility to accelerate their impact.

Here are the 9 Top Innovators who are contributing to climate justice around the world:

A graphic featuring the names of all 9 Top Innovators and Challenge partners
  • Landscape Resilience Fund (LRF) is developing sustainable landscapes and mobilizing grant-based climate finance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to provide farmers with access to better farming materials, training and sustainable finance so they can implement their own climate-resilient solutions.
    LRF is led by Urs Dieterich, who wants to improve the living conditions of current and future generations by developing innovative financing solutions.
  • Climate Justice Observatory brings together the human rights methodologies of observatories which provides reliable information, equity data, climate modelling, long-form journalism and expert analysis. It allows citizens to monitor issues, map local problems and crowd-source solutions, while providing campaign resources.
    Its founder, Susan Rimmer, has been involved as a member of the C20, Think20 and W20. In 2018, she was named one of Apolitical’s 100 Most Influential People in Gender Policy.
  • Meli Bees Network partners with traditional communities to support the protection of primary forests and regeneration of previously deforested areas in some of the most endangered areas of the Amazon. It established regenerative activities such as native beekeeping and agroforestry while also developing a relationship of trust with communities.
    Meli is founded by Ana Rosa de Lima, who is of the new generation of leaders from the Amazon area that have witnessed rapid adverse changes to her childhood environment.
  • Irri-Hub Ke supports smallholder farmers in East and Southern Africa to overcome droughts and periods of reduced rain by providing climate smart irrigation solutions. It offers solar-powered and IoT enabled irrigation solutions, such as smart water harvesting, water preservation and climate smart irrigation.
    Irri-Hub is co-founded by Eric Onchonga, whose goal it is to transform the lives of small-scale farmers through climate smart use of irrigation technology to achieve a zero-hunger world.
  • People’s Action for Rural Development (PsAfRD) is a reforestation programme in Papua New Guinea that is contributing to carbon sequestration while conserving forests. PsAfRD coordinates 100 youth organisations and 20,000 green entrepreneurs to work on reforestation and ecosystem restoration.
    PsAfRD is led by Joseph Pumai who builds networks of entrepreneurs for sustainable food system development, as well as forestry and biodiversity conservation management.
  • Lanforce Energy seeks to provide rural households with access to clean and affordable energy by constructing and installing cheap biodigesters on pay-as-you-go tariffs. It thereby reduces deforestation, air pollution, emissions from fossil fuels as well as the use of chemical fertilizer – while eradicating energy poverty.
    Lanforce Energy is co-founded by Judith Marera, who strongly believes that the empowerment of women will contribute to the development of Zimbabwe.
  • Health in Harmony (HiH) is dedicated to reversing global heating by protecting rainforests. It places the knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and Local Rainforest Communities (IPLCs) at the forefront, recognizing that they not only suffer disproportionately from climate crisis impacts but also hold the key to solutions. Through listening to and investing in IPLCs’ solutions, HiH contributes to rainforest stabilization, restoration and community wellbeing.
    HiH is founded by Dr. Kinari Webb, based on her vision to link environmental and human health, while always radically listening to communities.
  • OffGridBox is a solar-powered, mobile water purification and desalination unit. In remote areas where groundwater quality is affected by climate change, the OffGridBox can pump water, desalinate it for drinking, and power an irrigation system. It is one solution to three problems: access to energy, lack of access to clean water and access to connectivity.
    Its CEO, Jodie Wu, has been recognized as a TEDGlobal Fellow, Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s America’s Most Promising Entrepreneurs, and Forbes’ 30 under 30.
  • SFG Box is a Self-Watering Food-Grower Box, which comes with its own app. It aims to tackle the increase of food prices in South Africa as well as to educate and inspire people to grow their own food - by providing people with a DIY food growing technology and online education.
    It is founded by Andrew Pott, who specialised in water resources planning and engineering, working across design, construction, quality control, research and teaching.
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