Community Jameel joins forces with C40 Cities and J-PAL to launch climate labs embedded with government policy teams in Egypt, India, Jordan and South Africa

  • The network of climate labs embedded with national, state and city-level government teams will advance innovative and evidence-based approaches to policymaking to tackle climate change.
  • At least four J-PAL labs will focus on access to clean air and water, embedded with policymakers in Egypt, in selected states in India and in Cape Town, South Africa, which will collectively serve nearly 260 million people.
  • Two C40-led labs focused on integrating climate action in urban planning will be set up in Chennai, India, and Amman, Jordan.

Community Jameel, an independent, global organisation advancing science and learning for communities to thrive, has joined forces with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), a global research centre working to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence, and C40 Cities, a global network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities confronting the climate crisis, to launch a network of climate labs, embedding and strengthening policy teams in national, state and city government to drive evidence-based and innovative approaches to tackling the effects of the climate crisis.

Community Jameel’s support will help launch at least four J-PAL labs focused on clean air and water – at the national government level in Egypt, at the state level in India, including Gujarat, and at the city level in Cape Town, South Africa – collectively serving nearly 260 million people. It will also support two C40-led labs focused on sustainable urban planning in South and West Asia, based in Chennai, India, and Amman, Jordan. J-PAL and C40 will collaborate to leverage learnings.

George Richards, director of Community Jameel, said: “Communities across the world continue to face challenges in accessing clean air and water, a threat to human safety that has only been exacerbated by the climate crisis, along with rising temperatures and other hazards. Through our collaboration with J-PAL and C40 in creating climate policy labs embedded in city, state and national governments in Africa and South and West Asia, we are committed to advancing innovative and science-based approaches to policymaking that can help hundreds of millions of people enjoy healthier lives.”

J-PAL Air and Water Labs

Regions including Africa, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and South Asia are on the front lines of the global air and water crises. In MENA, nearly 90 percent of children already live in areas facing high or extreme water stress. Across Africa, almost 400 million people lack access to safe drinking water. In India, about 75 percent of households did not have drinking water on premises in 2018. Simultaneously, air pollution is one of the greatest threats to human health globally. In India, extraordinary levels of air pollution are shortening the average life expectancy by 5 years. In Africa, indoor and ambient air pollution are growing and contributed to 1.1 million premature deaths in 2019—over 25 percent of the world’s pollution-related deaths.

To combat these threats, the J-PAL Air and Water Labs will work with partner government agencies to bring together researchers and policymakers where impactful clean air and water solutions are most urgently needed. Together the labs aim to improve clean air and water access by informing the scaling of evidence-based policies and decisions of city, state, and national governments.

As threats to human health and resources worsen because of climate change, there is increasing urgency to find high-impact and cost-effective solutions. However, data and evidence on potential solutions are limited. To address this challenge, the J-PAL Air and Water Labs will foster deep collaboration between government partners, J-PAL regional offices and researchers, collectively working to:

  1. Co-diagnose the most pressing air and water challenges and opportunities for policy innovation.
  2. Expand policymakers’ access to and use of high-quality air and water data.
  3. Co-design potential solutions informed by existing evidence.
  4. Co-generate evidence on promising solutions through rigorous evaluation, leveraging existing and new data sources.
  5. Support scaling of air and water policies and programmes that are found to be effective.

Iqbal Dhaliwal, global executive director, J-PAL, said: “There is no time to waste investing in solutions that do not achieve their desired effects. By co-generating rigorous real-world evidence with researchers, policymakers can have the information they need to dedicate resources to scaling up solutions that have been shown to be effective.”

Each lab will have a research and scaling fund that will prioritise funding co-generated pilot studies, randomised evaluations, and scaling projects with lab partners in government.

This model will both strengthen the use of evidence in decision-making to ensure solutions are highly effective and guide research to answer policymakers' most urgent questions. J-PAL Africa, MENA, and South Asia’s strong on-the-ground presence will further bridge research and policy work by anchoring activities within local context.

Jameel C40 Urban Planning Climate Labs

Urban planning decisions affect a city’s greenhouse gas emissions and the climate risks its people may face, including floods, air pollution and excessive heat due to the urban heat island effect. As urban populations grow, so do cities, often onto wetlands and other flood-prone areas. The costs of not controlling urban expansion onto land vulnerable to climate hazards as well as not taking bold climate adaptation action will be dire. Sustainable urban planning policies can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate risks for decades to come.

The Jameel C40 Urban Planning Climate Labs will support fast-growing cities in South and West Asia – including Chennai and Amman – by integrating climate action planning with urban planning. The labs will help the cities to revise master planning documents to better integrate their climate objectives, and especially to better adapt to climate risks. In addition, each city will create a sustainable, liveable and low-carbon city space which will serve as a proof of concept of the planning. City practitioners will be encouraged to share knowledge to inform sustainable and resilient planning measures in other cities in their regions.

Through the Jameel C40 Urban Planning Climate Labs, C40 will create a blueprint, including a framework, methodology and tools, for cities to integrate climate action planning with urban planning.

Shruti Narayan, regional director for South and West Asia at C40, said: “Many cities in South and West Asia are facing rapid population growth and urbanisation as well as major climate risks. That’s why it is vital to promote sustainable development and urban planning that confronts the climate crisis and creates a future where everyone, everywhere can thrive. C40 is delighted to partner with Community Jameel to support cities as they integrate climate action in urban planning.”

Through collaborating with government partners, researchers, and urban and city planners, the climate labs will create a comprehensive evidence base and a pathway for innovation that will serve as a model that can be scaled in the future to impact millions of lives.