5 companies protecting the most vulnerable against climate change

In my latest blog on “Why investing in resilience is good for business”, I talked about the unavoidable need for a company to adapt to a changing climate and build climate resilience.

I got some great feedback, with several people asking if I could showcase what leading companies are doing to protect the most vulnerable against climate change using their core business. So, I thought I would share five examples from different sectors and parts of the world, all of which have two things in common; they use partnerships and new technologies to help the most vulnerable build climate resilience.

1. DSM

Agriculture and food systems are extremely vulnerable to climate change. Extreme weather events are already taking a severe toll on farmers, especially small holder farmers in Africa.

Africa Improved Foods (AIF), a Royal DSM led partnership with the government of Rwanda and IFC, is a for-profit public-private partnership that incorporates both climate adaptation and sustainability, while increasing self-sufficiency via local production of highly nutritious foods.

AIF is a social enterprise and embedded in its business model is a comprehensive strategy to reduce poverty, while making affordable nutritious commercial products for the mass market, empowering small-scale agricultural producers to connect to the value chains, creating jobs and building climate resilience from farm to factory.

AIF will collaborate with the Global Center on Adaptation to expand the partnership across Africa, bringing millions of small holder farmers into climate-resilient and stable value chains.

2. Swiss Re

Natural catastrophes led to over USD 175 billions of losses in 2020. Over the past 10 years globally, about 66% of all economic losses from natural catastrophes have not been insured. That’s a huge protection gap – particularly for developing markets.

In the wake of the devastating cyclones, floods and droughts, the discussion around the role of the insurance sector gathers pace. Insurance penetration rates in developing market are low, and the brunt of the financial burden falls on the shoulders of governments, relief agencies, and citizens.

Swiss Re helps insurers reach new segments of the market that were once deemed ‘uninsurable’ through tech-/data-driven innovations and partnerships. Swiss Re’s Mexico Reef project has brought relevant stakeholders together to use data to better understand nature and build new risk tools to allow for better resilience planning.

In order to really upscale protection, a whole economic ecosystem is required to make insurance work. Swiss Re is working through numerous partnerships to better anticipate and prepare for an evolving risk landscape and channel its knowledge into the region. Great examples include:

3. Arcadis

Currently, the world’s cities are home to more than half the world’s population, with an expected increase to 70% in 2050. 880 million people live in informal settlements. Climate change is already having large impacts through heat waves, landslides, storms and floods.

Arcadis, a global natural and built asset design and consultancy firm, is working in partnership with UN-Habitat to improve the resilience of informal settlements. Under the partnership called the Shelter Program, Arcadis provides pro-bono technical assistance to UN-Habitat projects, especially in post disaster recovery situations.

Together, the two organizations are training mayors from 60 cities on climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, enhancing their capacity to design and implement resilient urban infrastructure through innovative engineering solutions in Asia-Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, including post-disaster recovery. The 10 years partnership has just been extended another 2 years.
The Promise of Shelter

4. Danone

Danone’s climate strategy includes efforts to build resilience in the food and water cycle addressing water scarcity, soil fertility, loss of forests and biodiversity.

It also looks at the impact on the people producing their essential raw materials. Smallholders with subsistence farms (less than 10 cows) account for 75% of farmers in Danone’s supply-chain, although they provide only 10% of its milk.

In its new strategy Danone plans to co-build climate resilience with smallholders, taking a holistic view of farming resilience. Innovative approaches are already being piloted in multiple regions through the Danone Ecosystem Fund initiatives.
Climate Policy

5. Dilmah Tea

Dilmah is a Sri Lankan family tea company, now one of the world’s largest tea brands.
As part of their founding motto “Business is a Matter of Human Service” it drives a number of initiatives to support climate resilience and adaptation efforts for local communities f.ex a pilot project to establish natural corridors to enhance biodiversity and conserve natural habitats, and a greening Batticaloa reforestation project https://www.dilmahtea.com/

The company’s conservation arm also established Sri Lanka’s first climate change research station for research into biodiversity, forest health, and effects of droughts and flooding. Research feeds into identifying climate adaptive crop management practices and producing national level climate change models.


Climate change remains the greatest global challenge we face in the coming decades. Its impacts affect all regions of the world and cut across all sectors of society. People who did the least to cause the problem—especially those living in poverty and fragile areas—are most at risk.

It will take all of our collective effort and unwavering determination to save our world for future generations. The role of business in leveraging its innovative capacity, technology and reach will be critical to achieve the scale and pace required.

The ideas presented in this article aim to inspire adaptation action – they are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Global Center on Adaptation.

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