Our planet is facing numerous threats to our way of being. Chief among the threats is climate change. The United Nations has declared that it is a “security imperative” to tackle climate change because inaction will lead to such black swan events as social and political upheavals. conflict and threaten populations and countries.

Adding to the issue of climate change is the projected rise in the world’s population to 9 billion people. Population pressures increases global food demand; this at a time when the planet is facing an environmental crisis brought on largely by climate change. For many of us in Canada it means the dwindling of polar ice. For poor countries, climate change translates into declining crop yields, falling grain reserves, soaring prices and food riots. More research funding is required to develop drought and flood resistant crops.

History has shown that insecurity over food and water can be a trigger for conflicts and civil wars. Case in point: over 35 years ago, the Israeli government diverted water away from Palestinian farmland to serve Jewish settlements; the resultant conflict is ongoing. A country’s ability to feed its citizens confers state legitimacy. Access to health care and rule of law, and the building of civil society institutions for citizens to have their voices heard also have a positive impact on a country’s political legitimacy, and hence, global security. Social disruptions such as famine or drought can lead to political upheaval. Social and political upheavals can be Black Swan events if we failed to predict and plan for them.

Increasing Food Security

Lack of access to sufficient and nutritious food is a major obstacle to reducing poverty in developing countries. Almost one billion men, women and children around the world face chronic hunger. United Nations food security experts have been sounding the alarm that extremes of heat, droughts and floods caused by climate change will adversely affect crop yields, which will lead to price increases and disruption of food supplies. The challenges to food security include low productivity, high costs, and a lack of modern techniques and technology. At the Black Swan Foundation we will focus on research and sustainable agricultural development.

Increasing Water Security

Safe water and sanitation is a basic human need. More than two and a half billion people do not have access to safe sanitation. Around a third of the world’s population – almost 800 million go without access to clean drinking water. More than 2,000 children under the age of five die daily because of a lack of clean water and safe sanitation; water-related diarrhoea is one of the biggest killers of children in sub-Saharan Africa.

Managing our finite water resources to improve the lives of billions while maintaining or improving the quality of our natural environment is one of the great challenges of the 21st century. The concept of innovative water projects to transform the lives and health of the world’s poor will be central to work at the Black Swan Foundation.

Climate Change and Sustainability

According the US economists, higher temperatures and precipitation data associated with climate change slows the economies in poor countries. Findings published in the American Economic Review have found that a one degree Celsius warming in a poor country had reduced the growth of all exports by between two and 5.7 percentage points. Researchers have also found a correlation with rising temperatures with regular changes of government — elections, coup d’etat — which can lead to political instability in poor countries.

Oceans absorb excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, leading to rising acid levels in oceans, which is one of the biggest threats to coral reefs. This ‘osteoporosis of the sea’ threatens everything from food security to tourism to livlihoods. The speed by which oceans’ acid levels have risen has caught scientists off-guards, says the head of the USA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The world is at the crossroads of a perfect storm situation. We are over-fishing our oceans to feed an ever-increasing planet. More people now inhabit and recreate on the coasts, leading to more pollution on land and sea. Poor rural communities rely on natural resources for their basic livlihoods yet have little or no control over these resources.

We at the Black Swan Foundation support the development of natural resource policies and programs that give poor communities better access to resources and a stronger voice in decision making on land use and development while addressing climate change issues.


Contact us regarding current and upcoming projects at:

info at blackswanfoundation dot org