This piece was originally published in Inside Philanthropy.
Climate change used to feel like a future problem, but with the increasing frequency of extreme weather events – from sweltering temperatures to blazing wildfires to disruptions to the food chain – the luxury of future planning has worn off.
At TD, we understand that a healthy environment is foundational to people feeling confident about the future and are committed to working to protect and improve the environment so that people and economies can thrive. We also know that communities across the country and around the world are incredibly diverse, and that climate change is likely impacting each differently and often inequitably.
While we don't have all the answers to addressing climate change, we know we can make a positive impact by leveraging our business, philanthropy, and human capital to bring the right players to the table to look for solutions. One way we do that is through the TD Ready Challenge, the Bank's signature North American initiative focused on supporting organizations developing impactful and measurable solutions to a problem statement. For the 2022 TD Ready Challenge, the problem statement aims to support organizations helping communities address the impacts of climate change and unlock the opportunities available as a result of the transition to the low-carbon economy.
A global issue that looks different locally
For several decades, we've heard about rising sea levels, holes in the ozone layer, and rising temperatures. We all saw the photos of polar bears standing on quickly melting ice in the Arctic. These images made it easy to understand the enormity of the problem, but felt like distant problems that didn’t affect your community or you personally. But that couldn't be further from the truth.
Climate change doesn't just affect the environment — it also affects people's lives, their livelihoods, and the economic makeup of their communities. There are some communities that experience coastal flooding while anothers might struggle with extreme heat and droughts. Climate change is impacting each of these communities; however, the way they experience it is different and unique. So, the question becomes, how can we help them address climate change and bolster their local industries, like fishing or agriculture, to help those communities thrive?
For the 2022 TD Ready Challenge, we are meeting communities where they are. Through our philanthropic and community investments, we’ve learned that local, community-based organizations tend to best understand the needs of their neighbors. We believe it is crucial that all voices and perspectives be included as we work towards solutions to help those disproportionately impacted by climate change.
Climate change affects everyone — but it doesn't affect everyone equally
If we are going to truly improve the quality of our environment and the lives of the people in our local communities, we need to make sure that we are proposing, supporting and developing solutions with an understanding that climate change impacts communities in different and often inequitable ways.
The reality is that climate change will most likely continue to have a disproportional effect on marginalized populations, including radicalized and indigenous communities, seniors, youth and children, newcomers, low-income communities, people with pre-existing health conditions, and individuals with disabilities.
It is crucial that all voices and perspectives be included as we develop new ways of adapting to environmental changes. We must ensure that those populations who may be more negatively impacted by climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy are included in and top of mind during discussions about potential solutions.
This year's TD Ready Challenge is focused on supporting organizations that are doing just that - developing scalable, equity-based solutions to ensure that everyone is supported during the transition to the low-carbon economy of tomorrow.
Why it matters
It's clear that almost no community will be spared from the negative impacts of climate change. We have an urgent need and an immediate opportunity to help everyone –particularly those who are most likely to experience more negative impacts of climate change – better address and prepare for existing and new environmental challenges and the transition to the low-carbon economy.
Our planet is our collective home, and we all have an important role to play in making sure to protect the world the next generation with inherit. By working hand in hand with local communities, we can help protect and improve the environment so that people and economies can thrive.
Through the TD Ready Commitment, we hope to identify solutions, drive innovation and scale the rate of change. In the coming months, we will examine grant applications with a critical eye and an entrepreneurial spirit to identify organizations with local, community-based solutions that can scale and serve as a blueprint for communities struggling with similar climate challenges. I am optimistic that the work these organizations are doing will change our environmental landscape for the better.