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Plan A: Using Data to Predict Where Climate Change Will Hit Hardest - and Funding Innovations to Fight Back

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Plan A is a unique online platform that uses open source data to predict where and how climate change will hit the hardest - and then uses that insight to help fund innovators who are working on effective solutions in those specific areas.

There's a huge amount of data out there about the impacts of climate change - from universities, scientific research centres and international institutions. But right now, the climate change movement, and its financing, is often still fragmented and lacking in clear, solutions-based strategies that could secure a strong and sustainable future for the planet. That's where Plan A comes in - with their innovative solution for how to more effectively organise, prioritise and finance, crucial climate action.

The Plan A platform hosts crowdfunding campaigns for environmental projects, helping to channel donations from individuals, businesses and governments into innovative projects that are working in the most crucial areas, at the most important times. The main topics that their projects focus on are: sustainable energy, waste management, sustainable living, forests, oceans and wildlife.

The website offers data insights about each topic, and highlights the corresponding geographical "hotspots" - those countries where that topic is particularly important and where the most pressing action is required. Right now, projects that they're promoting include installing solar kiosks in Lesotho, protecting public parks in Bulgaria and strengthening an e-waste collection system in Germany. RESET spoke to Lubomila Jordanova, Plan A's founder & CEO.

How did you first come up with the idea? And how has the platform developed?

I first started digging into the topic of climate change three years ago and was left devastated by the facts. It was just mind-blowing to realise we have been able to get so far technologically, while at the same time we've taken a thousand steps back and are losing our connection to the world outside of the human one.

Plan A was the product of those thoughts. I learnt a lot about the latest tech and scientific developments that addressed climate change, but I had to find them through a variety of different sources. Once I also started understanding how complicated it was to find funds for solutions like that, the idea for Plan A became clear - an online platform which connects the various stakeholders and gives them easier access to financing for their environmental projects.

Plan A collects funds from companies and individuals via our online platform, which essentially acts as an encyclopedia for climate change. This open approach has helped us build a community of over 70,000 individuals, 100 businesses, 200 scientists and 3000 environmental NGOs.

What types of campaigns do you host on the platform?

We have 3 different types of campaigns on the platform, which makes sure we are open to suggestions from a wide range of different stakeholders: including scientists, NGOs, individuals and communities.

We have Disaster Relief projects which are focused on addressing crises immediately after an environmental disaster happens - for this type of project we take applications from both NGOs, green startups and other organisations.

Our second type of project is Small Grants, which is a type specifically dedicated to scientists, NGOs and grassroot organisations across the world.

The third type is Community Initiative: these projects are for anyone who has an environmentally-friendly project idea. These projects vary from park cleanups through to research projects about whales.

Plan A is “a data-driven action platform". What does that mean exactly?

Plan A uses publicly available data to predict where and how climate change will hit the hardest. Our algorithm is able to tell us what the priorities are on a country level in terms of the fight against climate change, making it clear what projects should be prioritised.

Very few crowdfunding campaigns online are about climate change, and many people still don't see it as a serious threat. We want to change that by applying scientific data and information to demonstrate the issues and also fund meaningful action for the good of the planet.

How do you use that data to help you choose which projects to support?

To select projects we use our algorithm and a selection method that we have developed in-house. If a project is addressing an issue our algorithm has recognised as critical to act on in a particular location, it will pass that first stage. The next stage is an analysis of the project goals, financial breakdown, the team and their track record from previous projects. The final step is an interview. That way we can make sure that any funds are used effectively, transparently and in such a way that they have the most impact possible.

Are you only taking on projects in countries that you already work in, or are you open to new ones?

At the moment we have projects in 65 countries. However, we accept applications on our platform from any country on the planet. Climate change is already having an impact all across the globe and coming in different shapes and forms - only a diversity of solutions from across the globe will be able to adequately avert this crisis.

Plan A is also developing something called the Academy. What is that exactly?

The Academy is our source for environmental news, analysis, science and reflection. We have built an online community of people who believe in the power of science and are driven by the belief that climate change can be addressed only if we all work together. The Academy is also where we speak about our events and talk about climate change in a solution-driven manner. That’s the mindset I hope the world we will be driven by someday soon and this is what Plan A fights for every day.