Multisolving in Paris

December 3, 2015 by Shanna Edberg

Cross-posted from Healthy Community Food Systems director Jim Dyer, who discusses the win-win approach of Multisolving. See also Climate Interactive’s agenda for Multisolving during COP 21, and our other events in Paris.

Jim Dyer Jim Dyer

A bright young Dartmouth grad turned up at our Old Snowmass office of Rocky Mountain Institute years ago when I ran the water and agriculture programs there. Schooled in systems dynamics, fueled with ideas and idealism, and without a ride home (did I mention he was confident), we quickly added him to our team.

Fast forward, Drew Jones is now with his Climate Interactive team at the Paris climate talks, providing real-time projections to delegates and the public of how various nations’ pledges to cut emissions would affect our world’s temperature in 2100. As this seven-minute video clearly indicates, the pledges already brought to the table go a long way to reducing that temperature rise and show an encouraging willingness to tackle this huge problem. The other clear message in the video is that these initial pledges must be implemented now and followed by continued serious reductions, and on an aggressive timescale — a good example of the need for “Getting Serious Now.”

Drew Jones Drew Jones

But how? Leaving fossil fuels in the ground, changing our expectations of “the good life”, upending our travelling habits — daunting tasks that require a much different public will than we have now. In response, Drew’s Climate Interactive team uses the term Multisolving to describe climate solutions that help solve other problems at the same time. Wendell Berry calls this seeking “whole solutions.” It’s at the core of permaculture systems. Many call it a “win-win” approach, or in some respects a “no regrets” strategy. We at HCFS see the development of healthy local food systems as multisolving for good food for all, while addressing local economic woes, biodiversity losses, rising health care costs, climate change, and other environmental crises.

I don’t think we need other benefits to justify taking aggressive action on climate change, but in a less-than-perfect world, those collateral benefits may well be the key to generating the requisite public will — and to creating a bit-more-perfect world at the same time.