A project to integrate climate-smart strategies into public health services in Nepal. A case study using Buenos Aires as a model of how solar geoengineering might affect climate and life in coastal megacities in developing countries. An examination of climate adaptation and disaster relief efforts in the wake of the devastating flooding in Pakistan in 2022 and 2023 that affected more than 6 million people.

Those projects and more were recently funded as part of the inaugural cohort of the Global Empowerment Meeting (GEM) Incubation Fund, which supports research into solutions to pressing development challenges. A project of the HKS-based Center for International Development (CID) at Harvard University and the Harvard Radcliffe Institute, the fund supports collaborations between researchers and practitioners.

“We are inspired by the strong demand for funding from researchers working hand-in-hand with local communities to co-develop solutions to the climate crisis,” said Asim Khwaja, CID faculty director and the Sumitomo-FASID Professor of International Finance and Development.

Tomiko Brown-Nagin, dean of the Harvard Radcliffe Institute, said the University supports a range of vital climate change studies, “but targeted research investments in developing economies on the frontlines of the climate crisis are closely aligned with Radcliffe’s values and strategic focus.”

Somali's walk past solar powered lights at a refugee camp in Mogadishu, Somalia.

The fund was announced last May as part of the relaunch of the Global Empowerment Meeting, the Center for International Development’s signature annual event. GEM23 had a climate-focused theme: “Growing in a Green World.” At the conference, proposals were workshopped in four incubation rooms facilitated by Harvard faculty, practitioners in the climate field, and students.

Participants were encouraged to network and develop early-stage research ideas on four topics: sustainability in the Amazon; food security and emerging technologies; evidence-based disaster responses; and solar geoengineering. When they applied to the fund, they were able to choose between two sources of support—seed funding provided by CID and the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute or participation in the Harvard Radcliffe Institute’s Climate Policy Accelerator Workshops, which focus on policy design and implementation.

CID Faculty Director Asim I. Khwaja.

“We are inspired by the strong demand for funding from researchers working hand-in-hand with local communities to co-develop solutions to the climate crisis.”

CID Faculty Director Asim I. Khwaja

The winning projects that chose seed funding are:

  • “Climate Adaptation and Disaster Relief in Pakistan’s Devastating Floods” (The London School of Economics and Political Science)
  • “Climate-Smart Public Health in Nepal” (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Nepal Health Research Council)
  • “Solar Radiation Modification Impacts Based Dashboard for Health Policy Makers in South Asia” (COMSATS University Islamabad and The Alliance for Just Deliberation on Solar Geoengineering)
  • “How Would Climate Change and Solar Geoengineering Affect the Coastal Megacities in Developing Countries? A Case Study of Buenos Aires.” (Centro de Investigaciones del Mar y la Atmósfera, Universidad de Buenos Aires, The Degrees Initiative, and the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University)
  • “Productivity Co-Benefits of Energy Saving Technology” (University of California at San Diego)
  • “Destructive Gold Mining in the Amazon: Climate, Human, and Ecological Costs” (University of Washington, Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, and the Manu Biological Research Station)
  • “Data (In)Equity, Conflict Fragility, and Climate Knowledge in Somalia” (Columbia University and Asal Consulting)
A reforestation assistant measures a newly-planted tree in a field damaged during illegal gold mining in the Peruvian Amazon.

The projects that will participate in the Harvard Radcliffe Institute Accelerator Workshops are:

  • “Shaping Policies for Climate Adaptation in the Gulf of Guinea” (Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences)
  • “Agricultural Water Productivity Assessment in Coastal Bangladesh” (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Ministry of Agriculture of Bangladesh)

The next conference, GEM24, will be held on May 1-2, and will focus on gender and international development. Applications for the 2024 GEM Incubation Fund will open in July.

Banner image: Men salvage belongings including a solar panel from their flooded home in Jaffarabad, Pakistan, in 2022. Photo by Fareed Khan/AP.

Children walk past solar powered lights at a refugee camp in Mogadishu, Somalia. Photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP.

A reforestation assistant measures a newly-planted tree in a field damaged during illegal gold mining in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo by Rodrigo Abd/AP.

Faculty portrait by Martha Stewart.

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