30 November 2022
Resilience Frontiers Pavilion Urges Rethink of Future Paradigms
Cascais, Portugal / Photo credit: Alice Butenko
story highlights

Opening the week-long series, Youssef Nassef, UNFCCC, explained the need for a world that gives back more than it takes from the planet.

Each day focused on a different Resilience Frontiers pathway, and one day was dedicated to cross-cutting issues.

Resilience Frontiers – a “unique and unprecedented” UN ecosystem that was established in an effort to move the world’s collective thinking towards a more just, equitable, and desirable future, where nature and humanity thrive in harmony with each other – held a series of events during the Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 27). The events highlighted Resilience Frontiers’ eight pathways of change, focusing on a different pathway each day, with one day dedicated to cross-cutting issues.

The Resilience Frontiers Pavilion at COP 27 convened from 8-17 November 2022.

Scientists, foresight thinkers, artists, youth, Indigenous communities, and business leaders participated in the Pavilion’s events, which included panel discussions, interactive exercises, meditation sessions, musical performances, storytelling and poetry, and a café where participants could meet and engage informally. The event was organized by Resilience Frontiers and the UNFCCC Secretariat.

The Resilience Frontiers Pavilion opened on 8 November, exploring Pathway 1, ‘Transforming Humanity’s Relationship with Nature.’ Youssef Nassef, UNFCCC, explained the need for a world that gives back more than it takes from the planet. Speakers emphasized, among others, the need for new understandings of innovation and transformation that create the capacity for experimentation. Pavilion designer Ocian Hamal-Smith discussed his vision in designing the pavilion space, which featured a roof of curving wooden beams and benches for conversation, along with a side room of trees and tables. 

Pathway 2, ‘Lifelong Learning for Environmental Stewardship,’ highlights the need to involve everyone in creating a community-driven mindset that can bring insight and experience from all generations and cultures to build a better future for everyone. On 9 November, six youth speakers from a youth-led project focused on empowering youth to get involved in climate change issues and shared their experiences and visions for a better future. Speakers noted that Wales is the first country in the world to legislate the protection of intergenerational rights, and that storytelling in social media can be helpful on how we educate young people about the impacts of climate change.

Pathway 3 focuses on ‘Ensuring Universal, Equitable Coverage of, and Open Access to, (Big) Data and Information.’ On 10 November, experts and practitioners reflected on: using technology to enhance relationships between people and their environments; the importance of ethical frameworks for technology; and how to take into account local knowledge, including Indigenous knowledge, when thinking about and implementing technology.

Pathway 4 on ‘Managing Water and Other Natural Resources Equitably and Inclusively’ was featured on 11 November. During this day, speakers discussed the use of data technology to promote better resource management, mentioning, among others: GEO Global Water Sustainability (GEOGloWS), a platform that consolidates information on freshwater activities; Malawi’s work on an Integrated Community-Based Flood Early Warning System; and insurance schemes that enable people to rebuild their assets after a natural disaster. They also viewed ‘The Last Glaciers,’ a film that explores the relationship between climate change, mountain environments, and the loss of glaciers.

Pathway 5 event on 12 November focused on ‘Managing Transboundary Issues Equitably.’ Participants were asked to reflect on the different things that flow across borders, and how they imagine these would move by 2030 and beyond. They discussed, among others: wildlife movement in the African region, citing the example of elephant migration, where corridors must be built for herds to move from one country to another every season; and the idea of global citizenry, where future cross-border transport and access are not restricted by a visa.

Discussions on Pathway 6 on ‘Applying a Holistic, Ecosystem-centered Approach to Optimize Future Health and Wellbeing,’ explored creating “newly transformed neighborhoods that mirror ecological patterns.” Speakers at the 13 November event highlighted: implementing an urban garden programme in Quito, Ecuador; working with Bedouin peoples to create a community center using the concept of “biomimicry”; transforming abandoned urban spaces in Japan into gardens; and using plants to perform the building climatization work that is normally delegated to machines.

Pathway 7, which addresses ‘Regenerative Food Production,’ was the focus of discussions on 16 November. During this day, speakers emphasized the fact that smaller-scale holistic practices of food production can help renew nature, confer resilience, and ensure global food security, and that sustainable farming methods can be scaled up using frontier technologies to analyze soil and climatic conditions in real time. Speakers highlighted, inter alia: remote-sensing technology to estimate fungal risk for tomato farmers in Egypt; and the importance of co-designing agricultural technology products with farmers from the outset, to ensure they are part of the process and understand how the technology benefits them.

Discussions on Pathway 8 on ‘Developing Transformative Financial Instruments’ addressed finance models for the future. Speakers at the 18 November event highlighted, among others: a project in Tanzania that allows farmers to access small loans; an endowment fund that aims to provide long-term funding to crop gene banks; the need for finance systems that help make ecosystem regeneration profitable; the hope that nature and relationships would soon be valued more that GDP and financial returns; and decentralized finance, such as cryptocurrencies. 

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