As my week of attendance at COP28 was nearing its end, I explored discussions focused on gender, biodiversity, water and resilience. Nature based solutions are emerging as a template for tackling effects of climate change and restoring biodiversity in critical areas, and aiding resilience while making water and food systems resilient against climate adversity. Climate adaptation relies heavily on food and water resilience in vulnerable communities across the world, and it is estimated that 26% of the world’s population still struggles with access to safe drinking water.


I believe that the increasing emphasis on food and water system resilience at COP28 is long overdue, and it was interesting to note the strides in innovative solutions presented not only at the Food and Water System Pavilion but also at various country pavilions from south east Asia, Africa and Europe. Anthropogenic activities have created agricultural systems that are energy intensive and inefficient, as revealed by a panel discussion focused on creating a bioeconomy to thrive in the green economy. Plastic, a major threat to ocean biodiversity requires huge amounts of biomass, sustainable wood and materials that require massive quantities of feedstock that will strain our existing inefficient land use systems. Further, the discussion stated that our food system has become an extractive industry which pays no attention to consequences, and it requires policies that incentivize investments in nature and preservation.


My interest piqued further when I learnt of the far-reaching impacts of investing in soil health, especially in the global south where resilience and adaptation are simultaneously pressing needs of the hour. Isha foundation’s event featuring Sadhguru revealed that revitalizing soil health (minimizing use of pesticides, promoting use of organic manure among other practices) can achieve 20% – 30% of greenhouse gas mitigation alongside increasing land use efficiency, improving local livelihoods and building resilience in our agriculture systems.


At the Ocean Pavilion, I redirected my attention towards biodiversity preservation in marine ecosystems, in light of our growing ambitions in offshore wind energy. The discussion on advancing a net positive biodiversity impact in offshore renewable energy consisting of representatives from Fugro, Orsted and US Geological Survey brought our attention to our increasing investment in offshore wind, and stated that “for every single offshore wind turbine that exists today, we will need 6 more by 2030 if we wish to meet our net zero targets”. This is a massive footprint across the blue economy. With the lack of worldwide regulations on marine energy generation, the preservation of marine biodiversity is subject to national jurisdiction which varies considerably across different parts of the world. Restoring biodiversity in the ocean, the world’s largest carbon sink can address a third of our mitigation targets. The challenges that impede our progress in this aspect are not just restricted to policy frameworks, but also in data collection and assessment initiatives which tend to be capital intensive, while our understanding of marine ecosystems are still yet to mature. My collaboration with NatureDots during my week at COP28 led me to seek ventures with similar action plans – nature based solutions that leverage our technology and artificial intelligence systems to monitor, analyze and protect ecosystems and the communities dependent on them.  Understanding the economic value of natural spaces is imperative to build cooperation between public and private sectors and enhance their interest in preserving marine biodiversity for a net positive impact.


The Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) text at COP28 calls for a “a doubling in adaptation finance and plans for assessments and monitoring of adaptation needs in the coming years”, and new money pledged for the global food system’s climate fight topped $7 billion during this year’s COP28 summit. The climate finance mechanisms across the world are still largely focused on mitigation and emissions reduction , and the climate finance going towards building agri-food and water systems is strikingly low, compared to the overall global climate finance flows. It is important to note the pivotal role of indigenous community wisdom for nature based solutions to our modern-day problems. Without protecting, representing and necessitating the role of vulnerable communities in our combat, the transition will not be just and equitable. As I bid goodbye to my journey at COP28, I reflect on the many climate change warriors across the world, working on the frontlines of disasters and yet fighting to preserve our planet for all flora, fauna, mankind and the generations to come.