Singapore Global Centre
Sustainability and Climate Resilience
In the diverse and dynamic landscape of sustainability and climate resilience, we confront a complex intersection of increasing global food demand, record amounts of carbon emissions, and alarming levels of air pollution. This multifaceted scenario is further complicated by geopolitical tensions and the worsening impacts of climate change affecting primarily developing and low-income countries.
Global food demand is expected to increase by up to 62%, as the world’s population is projected to grow to 9.7 billion people by 2050. Increasing current food production to meet the demand is not the only challenge. Global food security and nutrition are also threatened by geopolitical tensions and a worsening climate change. Every fraction of a degree of warming will intensify natural hazards that affect agricultural productivity. In addition, our current methods of food production contribute a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, further aggravating the climate crisis.
To avert record-level greenhouse gas emissions, governments worldwide must implement policies and prioritise carbon pricing instruments. Carbon taxes stand out as one of the most effective tools available to governments in their efforts to reduce emissions and meet the targets outlined in the Paris Agreement. Revenues from carbon pricing reached US$44.6 billion in 2018, a 30% increase from the US$33 billion raised in 2017. As only over a fifth of global greenhouse emissions are currently subject to carbon pricing, there remains considerable untapped revenue potential for governments to harness.
Additionally, air pollution stands as a major environmental threat and one of the main cases of death among all risk factors. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that, globally, air pollution is responsible for about 7 million premature deaths per year which mainly affects children in low- and middle-income countries. Air pollution is a threat also for the public health economy as it imposes enormous global health costs representing 6.1% of the global gross domestic product (more than US$8 trillion in 2019).
The UNDP Singapore Global Centre is at the forefront of the battle against these global challenges. Our initiatives span a diverse range, including advancing knowledge in novel farming systems for sustainable development, bridging the gap between theoretical and practical aspects of carbon tax implementation through carbon tax experience sharing, and embarking on an innovation challenge to develop comprehensive, cost-effective solutions for monitoring and addressing air pollution. With these endeavours, we aim to pave the way for a more sustainable and resilient future for our planet.
How Technology Can Help
Digital technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, big data, cloud computing, and Internet of Things (IoT) can play a crucial role in the fight against climate change and helping countries and communities worldwide attain sustainable development.
- AI in Agriculture: AI is transforming food production by enabling automated irrigation systems, precise weed control, and effective crop monitoring. It promotes the efficient use of resources, reducing the need for land and water while maintaining crop yields.
- IoT for Climate Resiliency: IoT devices, including cameras, sensors, and mobile phones, are being integrated with AI algorithms to create early-warning systems. Such systems can predict floods and detect droughts, especially in vulnerable regions like Africa, Southeast Asia, and other regions.
- AI in Carbon Emissions: AI can analyse vast amounts of environmental data to predict future emissions trends, helping governments set more accurate and effective carbon tax rates.
- Big Data Analytics for Air Pollution: Big data use can provide informed insights to policymakers by analysing historical or real-time data of air pollutants concentrations in monitoring stations. Moreover, combining IoT sensor data with big data provides further local insights to monitor the changes in air quality at the citizen and community level.