The ClimateReady Podcast: Adapting to Climate Change & Uncertainty

The Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA)

The ClimateReady Podcast features interviews and segments on emerging trends in the intersection of climate change and water. International experts in policy, engineering, finance, and other sectors will provide cutting-edge perspectives on climate adaptation advances, challenges, and stories. This podcast is a product of the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA).

Coping with Climate: Climate Grief and Adaptation
Sep 24 2020
Coping with Climate: Climate Grief and Adaptation
Regardless of whether or not you realize it, the climate crisis may be taking a toll on your mental well-being. Combine that with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, economic downturns, and social distancing measures, and it’s easy to see that mental health may be more important now than ever. But for these pervasive problems with no simple solutions, how are we supposed to move past our anxiety or grief? In this episode of ClimateReady, we are joined by clinical social worker and psychotherapist, Andrew Bryant. Andrew sat down to discuss the work he’s been doing for nearly a decade to help people understand the psychological impacts of climate change and develop strategies to regain their sense of agency. He explains the idea of “radical acceptance” and lays out a four-step approach for empowering ourselves to respond to the complex emotions resulting from the climate crisis, and highlights tools available through his Climate and Mind website (www.climateandmind.org). Many of the lessons he shares can also be applied to dealing with anxiety relating to the current pandemic as well. Following the interview, we continue the ongoing “Climate of Hope” segment in partnership with the World Youth Parliament for Water. Lynn Porta of the North American Youth Parliament for Water discusses her graduate research in transboundary water management and international treaties, and how the trends she sees around cooperation and adaptability give her room for hope.
Sparking Change: What We Can Learn from Australia’s Catastrophic Bushfires
Mar 24 2020
Sparking Change: What We Can Learn from Australia’s Catastrophic Bushfires
With our daily lives inundated with news and anxiety around the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, it’s easy to forget another major story from just a few months ago. The Australian bushfire season of 2019-2020 has garnered global attention. People all around the world were shocked by stories of massive wildlife loss, charred landscapes, destroyed homes and businesses, and displaced communities. But now that the fires have gone out, what have we learned? To hear how these fires impacted the country’s ecosystems, people, and politics, we turn to two colleagues from southeastern Australia. Dr. Jamie Pittock is a professor at Australian National University (www.anu.edu.au/), while Dr. Emma Carmody — a previous guest on ClimateReady — works at the Environmental Defenders Office (www.edo.org.au/). Jamie and Emma talk us through the wide-ranging impacts of this season’s bushfires. We hear how climate change, ongoing drought, and specific governance and management policies all worked in conjunction to feed the conditions for such devastating fires. We pay particular attention to the short- and long-term impacts on freshwater ecosystems and wildlife before turning to ways in which the tragedy may lead to positive behavioral and policy changes. For listeners interested in helping the ecosystems and people harmed by Australia’s bushfires, we are including a list of some great organizations recommended by Jamie and Emma. You can make donations and find out more about their work using the links below: - For strategic and science-based wildlife conservation projects – WWF Australia ( For a particular freshwater wildlife conservation – Aussie Ark Turtle Project ( For people, for short term relief – Country Women’s Association ( For other strategic projects – Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (
Utilities of the Future, Today: How Public Utilities are Pioneering Climate-Smart Infrastructure
Mar 8 2020
Utilities of the Future, Today: How Public Utilities are Pioneering Climate-Smart Infrastructure
We count on public utilities to provide services integral to everyday life. When we turn on the tap or flip a light switch, the assumption is that water will run and rooms will light up. But as the climate changes and cities continue to grow at a breakneck pace, what can utilities do to continue to provide these essential services? Is there a way to avoid overexploiting natural resources while keeping ratepayers happy? For insight into climate-smart development, we look to the pioneering efforts of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) in the U.S. state of California. On this episode of ClimateReady, we’ll hear from three SFPUC representatives: Mike Brown, Sarah Minick, and Karri Ving. They describe the ways in which SFPUC is utilizing — and financing — nature-based “green” infrastructure to reinforce and supplement their existing systems in order to provide water, wastewater, and power services to millions of customers in a region highly vulnerable to climate change. In the second part of the discussion, we hear how SFPUC is financing these innovative projects - totaling over US$1.4 billion - through the use of the world’s first certified climate bonds dedicated to water infrastructure. Following the interview, we wrap up with another installment of “Climate of Hope” in partnership with the World Youth Parliament for Water. Karan Gajare, a civil engineer from India pursuing a Masters Degree in Environmental Engineering through an Erasmus Mundus program, shares a success story of a small village taking big steps to adapt to and mitigate climate change in his native India (full story at
Picking Your Climate Battles: When Is Managed Retreat the Best Option?
Feb 11 2020
Picking Your Climate Battles: When Is Managed Retreat the Best Option?
What happens when climate change renders our homes and communities uninhabitable? Can we maintain our deep place-based connections from afar? As climate change and sea level rise threaten coastal communities, we’re forced to grapple with the fact that not all places will be livable in the not-so-distant future. Following extreme weather events, conversations tend to focus on how to build back. But should we always build back? Who decides? The concept of strategic managed retreat — although controversial — is slowly making its way into the mainstream as a viable, and necessary, adaptation option for many communities threatened by mounting climate impacts. In this episode of ClimateReady, we hear from Dr. A.R. Siders as she makes the case for strategic and managed retreat as an opportunity to focus on the long-term well-being of coastal and floodplain communities and the lands they call home ( Retreat is not an adaptation solution for every context. But when done in a purposeful, coordinated manner coupled with community involvement, it offers the potential for minimizing risks while avoiding the pitfalls of ad hoc displacement following disasters - a fate that often disproportionately affects poor and marginalized communities with the fewest resources to rebuild or relocate. We discuss the cultural barriers and social justice implications of the approach, and lots more, in this wide-ranging interview. The show concludes with a “Climate of Hope” story as we hear from our youngest guest ever. Austin Matthews, the son of ClimateReady’s producer, describes what it’s like to be a ten-year-old facing the looming threat of climate change and some of the reasons for his optimism facing the challenge.
Lessons from Chiloé, Chile: Transforming Natural Resource Governance Amid Environmental Change
Jan 23 2020
Lessons from Chiloé, Chile: Transforming Natural Resource Governance Amid Environmental Change
Environmental change is not occurring in isolation, especially for communities and groups who may live close to and depend very directly on local ecosystems for their livelihoods and economic wellbeing. Climate change in most places is occurring in conjunction with cultural shifts, political reorganization, and globalizing economic impacts. While economic, environmental, and social change tended to happen gradually in the past, many regions are now struggling with managing a bewildering array of forces, many of which they have little control over, forcing difficult decisions whose implications may be hard to manage much less foresee. Governance — especially around management of natural resources — must evolve in order to better address the interests of a growing number of stakeholders in increasingly complex socio-environmental systems. In this episode of ClimateReady, we bring in environmental anthropologist Dr. Sarah Ebel to discuss an ongoing example of transformative governance in Chile. Drawing on nearly a decade of work with coastal fishing communities, Dr. Ebel describes how legislative changes to Chile’s fisheries management plans and a rare shift towards “polycentric governance” have impacted local fishermen, indigenous groups, the aquaculture industry, and the environment — topics she further covers in the book "Chiloé" ( We also discuss the role of “individual agency” in our quest towards resilience and much more. The show concludes with another “Climate of Hope” story as part of an ongoing collaboration with the World Youth Parliament for Water, where Alex Whitebrook highlights encouraging trends from China’s industrial and agricultural sectors.
Urban Adaptation: The City Water Resilience Approach
Oct 25 2019
Urban Adaptation: The City Water Resilience Approach
As cities continue to grow, increasing demands are being placed on urban water systems. Climate change and other unprecedented stressors will exacerbate the challenges related to cities' climate security in the decades to come. How can cities learn to build resilience, and do so in an equitable manner involving a wide range of stakeholders? For this episode of ClimateReady, we hit the road to conduct live interviews during World Water Week in Stockholm in 2019. Keeping in line with the conference’s theme of “Water for Society: Including All,” we spoke with representatives of the ongoing City Water Resilience Approach (CWRA) project. The approach is designed to coordinate policies, investments, and operations by using water as the connective tissue for resilient action, often across a number of cities that form a single urban landscape. We were joined by two members of the CWRA team from the global engineering firm Arup, Mr. Martin Shouler and Ms. Louise Ellis. Then to hear how the resilience approach is being put into practice in one of its pilot cities, we spoke with Mr. Hardeep Anand of the Miami Dade Water & Sewer Department in the US state of Florida, a city which is seeing quite significant climate impacts already. We wrap up with another “Climate of Hope” story as part of an ongoing collaboration with the World Youth Parliament for Water. Joyce Mendez of the Climate Reality Project in Brazil and the Center for United Nations Constitutional Research covers the ways in which climate change can serve as an opportunity for significant global governance changes as part of a more inclusive future. Links:
AI for Adaptation: Addressing Climate Challenges with Data Science
Oct 11 2019
AI for Adaptation: Addressing Climate Challenges with Data Science
Climate change is the preeminent problem of the 21st century. Why not address it with 21st century solutions? While still in development, advances in data science — specifically around big data and AI — offer new and valuable tools for climate adaptation. How is this being deployed and who is leading the charge? In the Season 3 premiere of ClimateReady, we are joined by Paul Fleming, Corporate Water Program Manager for Microsoft (microsoft.com/environment). We discuss some of the reasons why a company known primarily for computer software is leading groundbreaking developments for water management related to climate change. Paul discusses the potential for big data and AI with respect to utilities and smarter water management. We also hear about the CEO Water Mandate initiative (ceowatermandate.org) and the expanding role of the private sector in addressing the century’s greatest environmental and sustainable development challenges. Following our main interview, we introduce a new segment to the show. Underlying all of our work around climate adaptation is a sense of optimism. We can (and must!) create more resilient systems and societies. To support this idea, we are featuring short personal reflections about a “Climate of Hope.” The episode closes out with a story from Nureen Anisha, an AGWA Research Fellow and graduate student, speaking of efforts in her native Bangladesh that give her hope for the future.
What the Heck Is Resilience? Moving Words into Practice
Jan 22 2019
What the Heck Is Resilience? Moving Words into Practice
Sustainable development has been the guiding principle for meeting today’s needs without compromising the future of our planet. But what happens when the pace of change outpaces sustainable development practices? And how can we adequately plan for development when the future is increasingly uncertain? Often we use the term “resilience” in the context of climate adaptation but, perhaps artfully, we also often leave the word undefined. Resilience is a value, a goal, an ethic, and a principle intended to lead to action. Resilience-based approaches to adaptation and sustainable development are gaining more traction in recent years as ways to help communities, governments, and development organizations adapt, transform, and thrive in the face of change. In this episode of ClimateReady—the final one of Season 2—we finally take a deep dive into this resilience thread that runs through almost all of our stories around climate and water. Dr. Nate Matthews of the Global Resilience Partnership ( joins the show to discuss the principles behind the concept, the systemic changes involved, and the evolving relationships between donors, practitioners, and the private sector. Following our main interview, we close out with a poetic story as our “Postcard from the Future.” Dr. Raha Hakimdavar, a Hydrologist at the US Forest Service, reflects on the cultural and personal significance of water, and an important but often forgotten impact of climate change. A full version of her poem is available at
What Would Hammurabi Do? Adaptive Governance and Climate Change
Nov 28 2018
What Would Hammurabi Do? Adaptive Governance and Climate Change
Civilizations have always depended on water. It’s no surprise, then, that laws pertaining to water and water governance have been around for thousands of years. All of that experience shows how difficult it is to govern water well. Climate change compounds these challenges. In this episode of ClimateReady, we look at multiple scales of water law through the example of a single river basin — from local allocation issues to national policies to international conventions. We are joined by Dr. Emma Carmody, an environmental lawyer for the Environmental Defenders Office of New South Wales and an expert in governance for the Murray-Darling Basin in Australia. Emma also lends her expertise as a legal advisor for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. We discuss Australia’s influential Water Act, the need to adapt policies in light of climate change, and the role of broader international agreements in driving local and national environmental policy. Following the main interview, we have a “Postcard from the Future” sent by Alan Hesse, a cartoonist, freelance conservationist, and creator of the upcoming “Polo the Bear” comic on climate change. Alan draws attention to the important and often undervalued relationship between science and the arts. You can find out more about Emma’s work with EDO in the Murray-Darling at or For information on Alan’s upcoming comic book due early 2019, visit www.millgatehouse.co.uk.