State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

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Report: 2020-2021 Highlights from the ACToday Columbia World Project

aerial image of river and trees with report name on top
Click on the cover image above to view the interactive report, or download a PDF version here.

We are excited to share our latest highlights from the Adapting Agriculture to Climate Today, for Tomorrow (ACToday) Columbia World Project. During a period marked by global upheaval and tragedy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been especially inspired to keep our work on track. We are proud of how quickly our country teams were able to adapt to the realities of the day and make outstanding progress.

ACToday remains focused on its goal of combating hunger by increasing climate knowledge in six countries that are particularly dependent on agriculture and vulnerable to the effects of climate change and fluctuations: Bangladesh, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Senegal and Vietnam.

But the stories featured in this report underscore something larger: that the successes of our work are now leading to opportunities for us to go beyond the six project countries, and scale at regional levels and draw in new partners.

This is not an accident.

Through trainings and co-development of scientific and technical tools, our country teams have strengthened the capacities and capabilities of national meteorological services, enabling them to better meet the needs of the public and private sector institutions they serve. This in turn has bolstered their reputations and has led to increased demand for their services, not only in the food-security community but also in energy, public health and other sectors. In a similar fashion, ACToday teams are training staff within national ministries, agriculture extension services and research institutions to become more sophisticated users of climate information for decision-making. These are foundational changes, ones that will continue to transform approaches to achieving food security in each country long after the ACToday project ends.

The climate services we’re building together bring decades of science and experience directly to bear on decisions the governments of each project country make when it comes to the wellbeing of their people.

University President Lee C. Bollinger launched Columbia World Projects in hopes of fulfilling a ‘fourth purpose’ of universities: supporting activities that focus the university’s research, expertise and resources to develop real and sustainable solutions for some of society’s most intractable problems.

A key word here is ‘sustainable’, which is why from the start, ACToday has focused on maintaining strong national and international partnerships based on trust and collaboration. The climate services we’re building together bring decades of science and experience directly to bear on decisions the governments of each project country make when it comes to the wellbeing of their people. Our efforts are leading to real change, and our successes have garnered the attention of neighboring countries and the international community.

As the COVID-19 pandemic reminds us: when good science is allowed to inform policy, all of society benefits.

Lisa Goddard and Walter Baethgen co-lead the ACToday project.

This post was originally published by Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society

Science for the Planet: In these short video explainers, discover how scientists and scholars across the Columbia Climate School are working to understand the effects of climate change and help solve the crisis.
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