By Justina Nixon, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility and ESG at IBM
It’s easy to take for granted the modern privileges that allow some populations to weather a storm with ease. Those luxuries could be the confidence of knowing the lights come on when you flick a switch, or the ability to earn a living while working remotely from the comfort of your home.
But not everyone lives that way. According to world Bank, climate-related disasters and natural hazards push 26 million people into poverty every year. The barriers these communities face will worsen without funding and access to technical, financial and institutional resources to enable them to be more resilient to climate change. One possible way to solve this problem is to fund environmental nonprofits, but these organizations often lack sufficient support. In fact, US environmental nonprofit organizations received only 2% of all charitable dollars in 2020.
Having spent the first eight years of my life on the Caribbean island of Dominica, I understand the major impact of time and environment on my homeland. I know the devastation a hurricane could bring to a community – wreaking havoc on power grids and the livelihoods of land-dependent farmers. My childhood memories were of picking and eating fruit on the family farm, as well as images of people reinforcing galvanized roofs amid flooding caused by tropical storms. In my professional career, from protecting water supplies from radioactive materials at the US Department of Energy to my current role in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at IBM, I have always enjoyed solving issues to protect people and the environment.
It wasn’t just my background that led me to this goal; it is a real problem on which the United Nations calls for action. As part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN has set 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for peace and prosperity for people and the planet. Among these goals, the UN calls for action on climate change, strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development.
At IBM, we believe the power of science, technology and innovation can help solve environmental problems while serving vulnerable communities exposed to environmental risks. By bringing experts and technology together to improve the lives of those most affected by environmental threats, we have the potential to make a lasting and scalable impact. Funding environmental nonprofits can be one step, but to accomplish long-term change, it is crucial to equip these organizations with the tools and expertise to drive societal results. Technology, science and strategic partnerships can play a key role in enabling organizations to leverage the resources needed to have a positive and lasting impact in their communities.
IBM CSR is tied to this business objective. That’s why we decided to invest in sustainable innovation programs that will help communities around the world. Free social impact programs, like our new IBM Sustainability Accelerator, use IBM technology and expertise to scale the initiatives of nonprofit organizations. Through this program, IBM will provide personalized tools, scientific expertise and mentoring to each organization for two years.
Together, we can truly bring about lasting change. IBM Sustainability Accelerator is available to nonprofit organizations around the world: we already work with organizations on sustainable agriculture, and we open to submissions for 2022. I encourage all of you to apply or suggest a non-profit organization that would greatly benefit from this program. We can all work together towards our next mission: creating a clean energy future.
Let’s put the power of science, technology and innovation in the hands of communities. Together, let’s fight against environmental threats.
This post was created by IBM with Insider Studios.