Youth from the Global South reflect on multisolving

Young leaders from the Global South came together in a three-part conversation to reflect on incorporating multisolving into climate action and recovery. Their far-ranging exploration touches on how gender equity, poverty, a circular economy, climate adaptation, and emissions reductions all fit in with the practice of multisolving.

In the run up to COP-26, Youth Climate Lab, in collaboration with the Green Africa Youth Organization, created an audio series exploring how a diverse group of young leaders in the Global South are thinking about multisolving and putting it into practice in their own work. The series explores barriers to multisolving, what’s working, and what might be possible with more support for these young leaders and others like them.

I can’t do the series justice in a short blog post, so you should really add it to your list of podcasts. To inspire that, I will share how three of the young people, interviewed in the second episode of the series, define multisolving in their own contexts.

Desmond Alugnoa is the Co-Founder of the Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) and the Program Coordinator for the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). He is a youth leader with focus on Community Empowerment and Rural Innovation. Here’s how he describes multisolving:

“If I take it from the angle of my community (I come from the northern part of Ghana) what we normally say in rural innovation is creating no problems but solving all problems. So multisolving to us is practically about how you solve today’s problems but in effect you are also solving the problems that will come in the future. So, if you take the activities of growing trees and planting trees and you look at the purpose of the trees, and what kind of trees you plant and what area you will plant those trees in, that is the early time you say that this multisolving; you probably are focusing on fruit trees or you are focusing on trees that will help with urban heat wave mitigation. At the same time the long-term effect, or the long-term impact, of these trees that you are growing, for people living in those communities and for the general climate, is huge. So, you are solving multiple problems but with one solution.”

Rohini Dutta is a medical student at Christian medical College Ludhiana Punjab India and a Global Surgery Fellow at the WHO Collaborating Centre for Research in Surgical Care Delivery in Low-Middle Income Countries, India. She thinks about multisolving in the context of healthcare in India.

“In the scope my practice, which is health care, I think we do a lot of multisolving without even realizing it. When it comes to India, health care is largely a neglected industry, but I do feel like officials have been very focused on climate change, and as a part of that the health care is also benefitting. So, a very small example is that a lot of the farmers here practice slash and burn agriculture. They burn the stubble of the crops at the end of the season which contributes to air pollution and very high air quality indices. Because of that, the government has been trying to put a ban on this type of practice without really giving an alternative to farmers. More recently they been telling the farmers that you can find alternatives such as using that stubble to make manure, which would help their future crops be fertilized, but would also improve the air quality and help reduce the large burden of diseases from air pollution that our population is facing. So I think in health care and particularly in India, that is what multisolving looks like.”

Xiomara Acevedo is an Internationalist and Climate Change activist, consultant and social entrepreneur from Colombia. She is the founder and director of Barranquilla+20 a youth-led & focused NGO whose mission is to educate and empower children and youth in climate change, biodiversity and water in Colombia and LAC countries.

“From my side, from Colombia, I have to say that multisolving is like the thing that we call “minga”. Minga is an Indigenous practice that is basically everyone contributes and everyone gives in order to fix a problem or develop a campaign or an activity or something that is important for the community. I think that multisolving somehow is like minga because it is an approach that is maximizing benefits through the use of the time, the resources, the efforts, and the knowledge that everyone can have to contribute to address the global climate crisis. Also, many groups from civil society, children, and youth are doing multisolving because we are in a collaborative effort to manage resources and capacities to reach a greater impact. This is also relevant because of governance. Governance for our people is essential for minga, and also for multisolving because you can ensure we are reaching a goal, reaching a common purpose, and using all our talents for it.”

We encourage you to listen to all three podcast episodes yourself. Share your own reflections and experiences with multisolving by connecting with us Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.


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That opened a new front of research at Climate Interactive: what else would improve around the world if countries truly transitioned away from fossil fuels? From improvements in air quality to energy security we documented many co-benefits of climate action, and incorporated some of them into Climate Interactive’s well known computer simulation, En-ROADS.

But, the multiple benefits of actions to protect the climate remain mostly theoretical without ways of overcoming the obstacles to multisolving. That’s why, from the beginning of our work we have collaborated with others to understand the bright spots of multisolving around the world and to pilot multisolving approaches. First in Milwaukee in partnership with the Milwuakee Metropolitan Sewerage District and then in Atlanta, with Partnership for Southern Equity, we began to see what was possible by bringing the different parts of a system together in pursuit of actions and investments that lifted up many goals at once.

From this action research, along with a series of case studies of multisolving projects, we began to see attitudes and approaches that are in common across a wide diversity of multisolving projects, a topic we wrote about in Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Then came 2020. Pandemic. Escalating climate change impacts. Dire warnings about biodiversity loss. And more and more folks connecting the dots between each of these issues and structural inequity. Invitations to write, speak, and teach about multisolving came fast and furious and with it the possibility that what we’ve learned from multisolving bright spots could help support leaders around the world to respond to crises with multisolving. That spark led to the launch of the Multisolving Institute and our mission of supporting leaders as they pursue multisolving approaches