L o a d i n g . . .


RS Government Needs a Policy Articulated with Science to Face the New Climate Regime


When the waters finally begin to recede, they reveal a scene of destruction and mud. It becomes clear that Rio Grande do Sul is facing the greatest climate catastrophe in its history – and one of the largest in the country. Among other things, it demands the price of political and strategic choices. Porto Alegre failed to assess its risks in time and, in line with what has been happening to a greater extent at the state level, undermined its capacities for public, strategic, and participatory planning. In a scenario that demands complex adaptations dynamically, reducing the State’s ability to generate knowledge, intelligence, and articulation between the public and private sectors will certainly not contribute to generating the responses we need.

A starting point for building innovative adaptation plans, both in their process and results, is to rethink development models. Isolated innovation efforts without multisectoral coordination can create piecemeal responses but will not produce the necessary transformations to prevent future catastrophes and generate prosperity and social justice as we adapt to the new climate regime. Plans articulated with mission-oriented innovation can be an alternative to this scenario.

The mission approach has been used before to send man to the Moon and to build missiles, but it is not through a military lens that this methodology holds potential in the current context. Instead, it is through the elements it offers to efficiently build solutions to major contemporary challenges. Missions thrive on clear goals, defined timelines, and a fundamental dose of collaboration between different sectors, agents, and actors in society.

No entity undertakes a mission alone, but without the State, this articulation is not feasible. To accomplish missions, the State must lead investments to create markets, take risks, and direct economic and technological development. The European Union has already been adopting mission-oriented policies to support resilience efforts against the impacts of climate change. This way of generating solutions can be adapted and applied to other contexts, such as that of Rio Grande do Sul.

Guiding innovation through missions allows for the complementarity of research and directionality of scientific efforts. Additionally, other factors are essential in collective impact initiatives: establishing dialogue platforms for consensus building; stimulating a sense of ownership by respecting knowledge and expertise in decision-making; transparency; advanced organizational capacities, and deliberate long-term efforts.

The state government has even included in its strategic Science and Technology planning for 2023-2026 issues addressing climate adaptation, but in a limited and uncorrelated manner. Now is the time to adopt a Mission-Oriented Innovation Policy for Climate Adaptation in Rio Grande do Sul, linking climate and social justice with economic development under a new paradigm, and perhaps serve as a model for Brazil, not only in disaster preparedness and response but also in building a new future.


Gaston Kremer
Executive Director of World-Transforming Technologies (WTT)


Foto: Rafa Neddermeyer/Agência Brasil