Climate Vulnerability Reduction Credits

The Higher Ground Foundation has formulated a methodological framework for Vulnerability Reduction Credits (VRC™), a currency to compare, prioritize, and credit measures that reduce vulnerability to climate change based on ex-post, science-based estimates of the avoided impact costs of adaptation projects. We are now developing a business-viable platform for registering projects, issuing credits, and serving as an exchange for adaptation service providers, project financiers, and communities that could benefit from VRCs. As private companies and governments focus greater attention to climate risk-management, the platform will offer all parties means of identifying, prioritizing, and providing results-based crediting of adaptation projects.

1. What drives you to work on climate adaptation?
I'm motivated by varying measures of fear and hope in the prospects for our world with the climate changing. We absolutely must continue to reduce emissions, but the writing is on the wall that even if we are successful on the mitigation front, adaptation is necessary if we are to prevent untold misery, especially for the poorest. On the other hand, I'm excited by all the technologies, practices, and understanding of how people, as individuals, communities, and businesses, can grow in their resilience to climate change. But there is an acute need for a standard approach to measure the results of adaptation projects, and that is where we fit into the picture with the climate Vulnerability Reduction Credit (VRC).

2. Where do you see yourself in 5 years with this project?
The climate vulnerability reduction credit standard is commonly used by governments and the private sector, and the Higher Ground Foundation is a sustainable social enterprise with decent returns to drive our future growth. We are not imagining that it will be a get rich quick scheme, however, but rather a responsible, trusted, and independent standard making body, that also is sustainable through registration and issuance fees. As we grow, we also envision tackling new methodological issues related to measuring vulnerability reductions from a growing set of climate adaptation project types.

3. What will you do when you win in September?
Continue on the pathway we are already on, but with a good tailwind to help us along the way. We feel that the Climate Adaptation Business Challenge is a great opportunity to let more people, institutions, and businesses know about our solution: a universal standard to measure the results of adaptation projects.

As for the daily work, we will use our prize money and the attention to get the message out better. Some specific tasks we need to advance include validating our Standard VRC Framework with the best experts in academia, policy, and business circles, and understanding better the needs of different customers from vulnerable communities, international development agencies, governments, NGOs, and businesses through market surveys. And we will also promote a select set of pilot projects where we will learn by doing: in other words, by encouraging projects to be financed with VRCs. This is an exciting opportunity for companies and governments to use VRCs to set targets and exciting for the world of adaptation because it can result in true leveraging of private finance for what is definitely climate adaptation.

4. Where do you perceive is the biggest challenge with respect to global climate adaptation?
Getting everyone from different countries, governments, investment, business and communities to see and understand the opportunities that abound in working together. For The Higher Ground Foundation, we have considerable work to do in helping make this happen, and we feel that the Vulnerability Reduction Credit is a big part of the solution.