Speeches & Transcripts

Keynote Address on Connecting to Climate Event at the Newseum, by Caroline Anstey, Managing Director, World Bank

June 28, 2012

Caroline Anstey Connecting Climate Event Newseum Washington DC, United States

As Prepared for Delivery


  • Welcome everyone. I am delighted to be at this wonderful venue.
  • As we prepare to “swing into action” here tonight, I want first to acknowledge the symbolic importance of this event here at the Newseum, a very special place that celebrates the value of communication, transparency, openness and freedom of information.  These values are also at the core of the World Bank’s mission and our drive for Results, Openness and Accountability.
  • I’d also like to recognize the timing of this event, immediately after Rio +20, which brought together thousands of people around issues ranging from cities to sustainable energy, oceans, food, water and landscapes.
  • Rio showed the vital need for partnerships. Take the more than 100 countries, private companies, civil society groups and international organizations that declared their support for the Bank backed new Global Partnership for Oceans.
  • Or the support for Green Accounting - factoring the value of natural assets like clean air, clean water, forests and other ecosystems into countries systems of national accounting and business decision-making.

Swing into Action

  • But Rio also demonstrated something else. Climate change and the environment are too important be left to negotiators. We don’t need - and can’t afford - to wait for others to get things done.  We can all be powerful catalysts for change. What we just saw on the screen says it all – “All it takes is you”. 
  • Climate change is one of the biggest development challenges of our time.  It is here, now, impacting every aspect of our lives – be it food, water, or the air we breathe. It threatens to reverse the hard-won development gains made over the last decades.
  • And climate change will hit developing countries the hardest. It's poor countries that will suffer the earliest and the most. Its poor countries where  higher temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, rising sea levels, and more frequent weather-related disasters will threaten agriculture, food, and water supplies. 
  • The hard truth is that we have almost run out of time.  The window of opportunity to curb emissions, limit rises in global temperatures and help countries deal with its impacts is closing. We need solutions, and we need them now.
  • So what's the gamechanger? I want to suggest to you tonight that it here before our eyes:  a powerful and transformative combination of technology and people power. Its a combination that can help us leapfrog old paradigms, old development models, and old North-South divides.
  • One of the reasons we are all here this evening is to celebrate our Apps4Climate finalists, whose ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit can only inspire us.   We’re also launching “Voices4Climate,” a new Connect4Climate/MTV global competition in search of the world’s most powerful climate stories told through photos, videos, and music.

Opening up Development / Climate Change

  • But to capitalize on that heady cocktail of technology and people power, we need information. Action is nothing without information.  Freely available climate-related data is essential to catalyze the changes in policies, investments and technologies that will be needed if we are to move towards a climate-smart future.
  • So let me relate that to the World Bank.
  • The Bank made a giant leap forward when in 2010 we opened up our data so we can help countries adapt to change, as well as mitigate what is to come. These data cover climate systems, exposure to climate impacts, resilience, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy use.
  • We have been using crowd-sourcing, and combining data with geo-mapping. 9rowd-sourced hackathons hosted by the Bank have enabled the tech community and disaster experts to jointly develop applications in response to disasters in Haiti and Pakistan and have “virtually” brought together people from around the globe to devise solutions to water and other development issues. 
  • Last December, we launched an Open Climate Data Initiative, and a  Climate Change Knowledge Portal including visualization tools depicting temperature and rainfall scenarios to the year 2100, linking users to more than 250 socio-economic indicators, and risk profiles for 40 countries that integrate climate and disaster risk.
  • If you want to use water indicators  to assess the impact of climate change across  8,000 water basins worldwide, the information is there.



" But to capitalize on that heady cocktail of technology and people power, we need information. Action is nothing without information. Freely available climate-related data is essential to catalyze the changes in policies, investments and technologies that will be needed if we are to move towards a climate-smart future.  "

Caroline Anstey

  • Working with others we've launched an Open Data for Resilience Initiative, a global effort working in 25 countries. An example  is haitidata.org, which makes risk assessment data produced following the 2010 Haiti earthquake available for anyone to download and use.
  • Similarly, Open Data for the Horn of Africa now facilitates open access to geospatial information, data and knowledge sources about the ongoing response to the drought in the Horn of Africa.
  • My point is simple: Farmers, fisher folk, and others around the world are using data and technology everyday to deal with increasing uncertainty brought on by climate change. In Nepal they are using PDAs – computers that fit into the palm of your hand - to collect data regarding changes in food security situations. In Chile, farmers can use low-cost mobiles to receive SMS messages about weather forecasts, market prices and even the latest cultivation practices.
  • In India, fisher folk can use mobile phones to receive messages about weather forecasts, optimal fishing zones, and market prices.  And in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, mobile phones are used to collect data for flood forecasting and forwarded to a central early warning system, with the information then sent out  via traditional media.

The Search for Solutions – Engaging and Empowering Youth

  • So that's the technology part of the transformational combo. Where do youth come in?
  • You are the ones who can think out of the box.  You are the ones who can take convoluted conference communiques and begin to make them real, not in conference rooms where agreements stumble or disappoint, but on the ground, and in local and virtual communities around the world.
  • And your numbers are growing. In Africa alone, 70 percent of the population is under 30.  And  there are already more than 400 million cell phone users. That transformative combo of technology and youth is not tomorrow's world. It’s today.

Connect4Climate initiative

  • The Connect4Climate initiative – also one of the sponsors of tonight’s event – is  using the power of partnerships, participation and social media to include the voices of local youth in the global climate change conversation.
  • With a coalition of more than 140 partners and a Facebook community of over a quarter million, Connect4Climate is reaching out to young people – to listen, acknowledge, and respond to their ideas, to help amplify their voice. Across multiple social media channels, Connect4Climate reaches up to 6 million users each week.
  • In the run-up to the UN Conference on Climate Change in Durban last December, Connect4Climate used a combination of social media and a photo and video competition to get
  • African youth aged 13 to 35 to tell their personal climate change stories through photos and videos.
    340 rural young people in Somalia were trained on climate change and its effects on agriculture, energy, forests, gender, health and water. They were  given cameras to document how climate change has affected their lives and these photo stories depicting deforestation, drought, and health issues were entered in the C4C Photo/Video Competition.
  • Youth from all 54 countries on the African continent participated – they want  their voices – and their stories – heard. And we need to listen.


  • Ladies and gentlemen, As the global population heads toward 9 billion by 2050, decisions made today will lock countries into growth patterns that can sustain or destroy our future.
  • We know that economic development during the next two decades cannot mirror the past two:  poverty reduction remains urgent, but growth and equity can be pursued without relying on policies and practices that foul the air, the water, and the land.  The powerful combination of technology and people power can help us avoid the pitfalls of the past.
  • Over the course of this evening you will hear from others on what they are doing to “swing into action”! It’s an impressive catalogue. Enjoy!