The People of PIER: Natalie Rice
An interview with Natalie Rice, communications intern, Private Investment for Enhanced Resilience (PIER) Project
What is your role within the PIER project?
I am the communications intern. I’ve been working on blog interviews about the team (like this one), beefing up our social media footprint, designing creative infographics, and any other tasks that the team could use my help with.
What excites you about the project?
I never really considered the private sector when I decided to get into environmental work. When I hear “private sector,” my mind often goes to big corporations, which quite often are the biggest barriers to environmental progress. However, with the PIER project we are working directly with all kinds of businesses, big and small, in Ghana, Peru, Indonesia and Vietnam. Though I haven’t been able to personally experience the field work, it is clear that the PIER project is helping a large spectrum of businesses scale up their climate resilience to protect their livelihoods.
What are some of the challenges you’ve come across during the implementation of the project?
First, I started this internship a few days after the lockdown happened for COVID-19, so I have yet to see the inside of the Winrock offices or even meet my co-workers in person. It has been a challenge to get to know the team and steady myself — all from a distance. As for the project, much of what I’ve experienced are meetings with the team where everyone has been challenged to think of creative ways to continue with our goals during a time when no one is allowed to travel to the countries involved in the project and conduct any meetings or trainings in person. These circumstances are unfortunate, of course, but they have given PIER the chance to test how far we can go with technology.
What does progress look like at the end of the PIER project?
Progress for me would be if we can effectively communicate to as many as possible in the private sector that our goals for climate resilience are the same. These businesses want to protect their livelihoods and we are pushing for a world that is better equipped to handle climate change. If we can succeed in our messaging, then it is a win-win situation for both sides.
How do you think the coronavirus pandemic is going to affect the thinking around climate resilience, especially for the private sector?
I think it can go a few different ways. On the one hand, most of the world has collectively moved their focus to health and hygiene, which is necessary at a time like this. However, I worry that the longer we put climate issues on the back burner, the more catastrophic the results will be. On the other hand, it seems (I hope) that most people trust scientists, and if given clear instruction on what individuals can do, will do it.
Are there any policy changes that you would like to see in the next five to ten years regarding climate resilience?
I am all for stricter regulation of both corporations and individuals for the sake of the environment. I think there is a substantial part of the population that is apathetic for a variety of reasons. They might believe that climate change is a hoax; or maybe they believe in it but put too much faith in the scientists to solve the problem or get us to Mars. To be fair, climate change might be the least of their worries. Unfortunately, climate change is an “everyone” problem and there just isn’t enough time left to hope everyone will voluntarily change their ways.