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Sarah Tuneberg, Co-Founder & CEO, Geospiza

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Please give us some background information on yourself and how your organisation plays a leading role in the climate risk agenda?

I am an emergency manager by practice. I've spent the last 15 years working to help communities prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. Seeing the severity and unpredictability of natural hazards increase so rapidly was terrifying. In my experience, communities have very few resources to understand and mitigate against climate disaster so we founded Geospiza to bring them advanced tools including data analytics and machine learning. We believe that technology is key to reducing the risk humans – especially the marginalized and underserved – face with climate change.

How do you see climate change affecting your organisation/the organisations you work with?

Our customers, both government and private corporations, are dealing with more frequent and complex disasters without the additional budget to do so. On the government side, agencies are being stretched thinner and thinner. On the corporate side, the increase in disasters are ratcheting up insurance premiums. And we see our customers looking to technology to help bridge the gap between limited resources and increasing risk.

How should companies manage climate-related risks?    

Reducing C02 emissions is crucial but only part of the equation. Companies must also be strategic about their climate disaster risk. In our world of complex supply chains, distributed workforces and global customer distribution, climate disaster, even across the globe from HQ, can destroy a company. Companies have a fiduciary responsibility to quantify their climate disaster risk and take concrete steps to reduce it. 

What will you be discussing at The Economist’s Climate Risk Summit?

The role of data in understanding and mitigating climate risk.  

What’s the one thought you would like attendees to take away with them from the Climate Risk Summit?

Reducing C02 emissions, getting off fossil fuels and moving to a clean energy future has been the primary focus of the climate risk discussion, but it is only part of it. The impacts of climate change are here, right now, causing terrible effects for people and business across the globe. Whether it is the record-breaking temperatures across India or severe cyclones across Africa, Asia and the Americas, people and business are being disrupted. We need to take action now, in addition to C02 reduction, to protect our communities and businesses from the disruptions we are already experiencing. 

How can diverse stakeholders, governments, the private sector, academics and nonprofits more effectively collaborate to reach climate-related goals? 

I believe that businesses, especially multinational corporations, are the key to reaching climate-related goals. Our governments are not sufficiently coordinated or influential to make the changes we need. If we wait for individual governments or existing international organisations to come together to solve for climate disaster, we are sunk. Businesses are the only organisations with the global reach and power to make the changes we need to prevent catastrophic climate disaster. And businesses will only act once they understand and can quantify how important it is to their bottom line. Geospiza is working to help corporations understand their risk and make investments that not only help the planet, but also ensure their ability to continue creating value for their customers. Continued profit is the driver for reaching international climate metrics.