From Incremental to Systemic Change
We all know that teaching a poor person to fish is better than giving a fish. But what if the fishing grounds are being depleted by the loss of coral reefs due to ocean acidification and government subsidies for damaging industrial trawling? If we are to be successful at helping support fishing communities, for example, we need to look at the entire picture, and choose where we can intervene in the most impactful way.
At the Bezos Earth Fund we are working with others to monitor the 50 key transitions that are required this decade and next as we address climate, biodiversity, and human development. These include phasing out the internal combustion engine and decarbonizing steel and cement. They include raising crop yields and making them resilient to heat and drought. And they range from reducing food loss and waste to empowering indigenous groups to manage tropical forests.
For each of these we try to identify how close they are to positive tipping points, and what are the barriers that we could help remove to cross these tipping points. Sometimes this will involve investing in basic research; sometimes through demonstrating success in pilot projects; sometimes through public policy design and lobbying; sometimes through monitoring and transparency.
The Bezos Earth Fund seeks to help drive the systems changes required in this decisive decade. Our Systems Change Lab helps us monitor the necessary shifts, learn about ingredients for transformation, and catalyze change with our partners and coalitions vying for a new way forward.
The goal must be to make positive change irresistible and unstoppable.