Having been once before, I had mixed feelings about attending New York City Climate Week this year on behalf of Rainforest Partnership. On the one hand, it is a week consistently creating momentous connections, conversations, and impact for our organization and for so many around us who we had the honor to meet or hear speak.
Niyanta had the opportunity to speak at Refi NYC 2023, an event focused on regenerative finance hosted by our partner dClimate, about the way innovation and technology, if we truly want it to have a positive environmental impact, must be grounded in the circumstances and actions happening right now on the ground in any ecosystem you wish to conserve or positively impact. For example, if a built technology working to protect biodiversity dismisses the reality that 80% of the world's biodiversity is under the protection of indigenous communities, it may very well detract from progress rather than bring funds and possibilities to the places offering the greatest impact. You can watch a recording of Niyanta’s presentation here.
We forged new partnerships and collaborations during the week that we are excited to share more about as they develop. We look forward to many of them becoming as powerful as our partnership with dClimate and the technological tools, the commitment, and the vast knowledge they are providing for our organization’s work on-the-ground.
For me, the most exciting part as someone new to this week of events is to be present among and actually have the chance to meet so many ambitious and inspiring people. One moment I’m talking to a founder of an innovative startup, the next I’m talking to a chief executive at a major corporation, and the next I’m speaking with a computer scientist at an AI company. I was also able to meet many people that I worked with throughout the year in person, some even from connections made during the 2022 NYC Climate Week – e.g. dClimate – and others who have been friends and supporters of Rainforest Partnership and our team members for many years.
Because of the way our organization has been built, the interstitial community we are building, and what we are striving to do, I had a reason to talk to every one of them. I had a voice in front of many that I admire on behalf of rainforests, an opportunity to create that connection or partnership that could change the trajectory of rainforests. We do not yet know the impact we created last week, but this is a really cool feeling, just to have this chance, to have this purpose walking through New York City, amongst the many going about their daily lives on the bustling foundations of the American dream.
When you stop to think about it – or maybe you walk and think about it – it is really incredible that so many thought-leaders, founders, movers, doers, conveners, and environmental stewards from across the world in all industries and sectors make the choice to come together in one city for this one week every year for our planet. We have somehow agreed upon a time and place to connect, share knowledge, set intentions, and build solutions in the lead up to the UNFCCC Conference of Parties, taking place this year in Dubai (aka COP28).
On the other hand, humankind cannot climb from the trenches we have dug for ourselves in one week, but rather over years with continued effort and focus on how weeks like this and COP, the UN’s climate conference, grow and become more impactful. With no one to blame, there were supposedly over 560 climate focused events all over the city during the week with many taking place the week before and the week after too. It is exhausting to register for so many events; it is inefficient to travel back and forth across the city.
Yes, some change of scenery and traveling through the city is fun, but isn’t the point to come together? What if collaboration was more prominent in the selection of venues and event times? What if we could better sort all of the events and side events we wanted to attend and register in one place with one set of credentials even if they are hosted by different companies with different sponsors? Might we miss out on serendipity, in that case?
The point is that we must continue to ask how this week is keeping up with the needs of our planet. This is what we ask of our work at Rainforest Partnership everyday, because we are a small team making the biggest splash we can make. We have to ask these questions both to make it in our space and in order to achieve our vision. From our experience, we know that we need to keep accelerating progress when we have these opportunities together.
Next, join us on the road to COP28 in Dubai in November/December as we continue to foster hope, drive the most positive impact for rainforests possible, and build an increasingly robust community around our vision for how we get to net-zero deforestation by 2030, and how we can keep it that way for the many years that follow.