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  • Photo: Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps

Climate change is worsening an already unprecedented scarcity of resources, including water and arable land in some of the world's most volatile and impoverished regions. Environmental degradation most strongly impacts vulnerable communities, primarily because these places lack the coping mechanisms that normally protect lives and livelihoods.

Mercy Corps is committed to helping these communities address and adapt to environmental changes. Our programs increase access to clean energy, manage limited water supplies, and teach farmers to protect their land.

Program Details

<!--break--> Climate change is a growing threat to human society. As it throws natural systems further out of balance, poor nations and communities feel the effect most severely because they lack the resources and support to adapt. Mercy Corps sees climate change as one of the greatest threats to development. Yet with these challenges come opportunities. That is why we're working to provide viable economic options as communities adapt to new environmental realities. And, we're helping poor communities cope with the rising incidence of climate-related disasters such flooding and drought, as well as environmental degradation. <b>Mercy Corps' Strategy: Sustainable Economic Models</b> Mercy Corps leverages its presence in more than 40 countries to reach thousands of communities and millions of people. What sets our work apart is that at the end of a program we aim to leave behind sustainable economic models that continue to serve communities' needs. Our work with climate change focuses on three main areas: <ul><li><b>Alternative energy:</b> Identifying and promoting alternative energy options that benefit poor and vulnerable communities and provide sustainable economic benefits at a meaningful scale.</li> <li><b>Sustainable resource management:</b> Supporting and promoting best practices and enhancing community capacity to protect environmental and ecological services.</li> <li><b>Advocacy, outreach and models that work:</b> Inspiring governments and people to replicate and build on successful programs that are environment and climate friendly.</li></ul> In addition, Mercy Corps is working on <b>Disaster Risk Reduction</b> initiatives to prepare for and mitigate against the increased hazards that are brought on by climate change. <b>Beneficial Energy Alternatives</b> Traditional fuels providing energy for light, heat and cooking often degrade the environment, damage health and release excessive carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Mercy Corps is responding to market demand and working with the private sector to identify alternatives that safeguard the environment, use less carbon and are cost-efficient. Both Mercy Corps and private sector partners are interested in seeing renewable energies adopted on the greatest scale possible within and across countries. For businesses, larger numbers of users means greater profit. For Mercy Corps, larger numbers of people using cleaner fuels means greater benefit to communities and their environment. As demand for alternative energies grows, so does the need for distributors and equipment maintenance, creating employment opportunities for community members. When these opportunities arise, Mercy Corps can spur the private sector and communities to invest in projects that will benefit their bottom line while limiting the harmful contribution to climate change. <b>Cool Carbon Projects: A Win-Win</b> Mercy Corps' Cool Carbon initiative allows individuals to help address climate change issues by donating to climate-friendly projects that support people adopting green energy alternatives in the developing world. We are currently working on a variety of projects, including in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the installation of fuel-efficient cooking stoves is significantly reducing demand for firewood. An important benefit of this program is that it makes life safer for women and children, who are the traditional gatherers of firewood, because they spend less time venturing into dangerous areas to collect wood. The project is also helping to conserve the only remaining natural habitat for mountain gorillas. To learn about other Cool Carbon projects, check out <a href="www.mercycorps.org/coolcarbon">www.mercycorps.org/coolcarbon</a>. <b>Sustainable Resource Management: The Rural-Urban Connection</b> As population numbers increase and powerful technologies become available, traditional land management practices change and can harm environments; climate change worsens this damage. Communities increasingly need effective and sustainable adaptation strategies to contend with the worsening degradation of water, forests, land and air. Mercy Corps is furthering its many years of experience with environmental projects by supporting sustainable resource management practices in the communities where we work. We are focusing on resource management in both rural and urban settings, since there is often a direct connection between poor resource management in rural areas and increased problems in densely populated cities. We help communities prepare for the increasing impacts of climate change while reducing risk wherever possible. <b>Disaster Risk Reduction</b> Mercy Corps believes that Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is an essential part of our mission to help people build secure, productive and just communities. That's why we are actively working to help vulnerable communities become more resilient to hazards and reduce the likelihood that their development may be undermined by disasters. We do this work within the broader context of sustainable development. Our DRR programs aim to help communities prepare for, mitigate the effects of, and respond to the hazards of natural disasters, including those due to climate change. <b>A Global Challenge Calls for Collaborative Action</b> Climate change is a global phenomenon. Any meaningful, effective response will require collaborative action by individuals, communities, governments, NGOs and corporations. Mercy Corps has an important role to play in getting programs addressing climate change off the ground. We must inspire necessary behavioral changes to enable significant numbers of people to benefit. With our wide geographic reach, Mercy Corps has the ability to engage a broad array of stakeholders to create a powerful force for change.

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