Research Topic

Population, Environmental Risks, and the Climate Crisis (PERCC) Initiative

The PERCC initiative generates ideas and conducts research on sustainable and equitable solutions to pursue justice in the face of climate and environmental change. 

Climate and environmental change impacts human health, society, and the planet, and the most severe harms fall disproportionately upon underserved people and communities who have contributed the least to the crisis.

There’s no time to lose. Upstream, countries and industries must reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and achieve Paris Climate goals. Downstream, people and communities need better tools, resources, and strategies to anticipate and respond to extreme weather events and changing landscapes. 

Scientists must work across disciplines and sectors to build a comprehensive evidence base to tackle urgent needs and to develop programs and policies to ensure equity, justice, and health. How do climate stressors, such as droughts and sea-level rise, impact human health and well-being? How do natural and social systems interact to shape the world? Research to answer these questions, together with subnational data, can solve complex challenges and inform practical and localized strategies for communities most at-risk. We must work with policymakers and local governments to invest in data and evidence for the most innovative solutions. 

The PERCC initiative builds a global body of evidence on population and climate issues and fosters innovation and collaboration among often compartmentalized research disciplines—across the climate sciences, demography, economics, and public health. Our world-class scientists generate knowledge on how the climate crisis intersects with ingrained economic and social inequalities and collaborate with decision-makers to develop more inclusive and scalable solutions. 

Our global network of social, public health, and climate scientists works directly with impacted communities, advocates, and decision-makers in government and industry to define research questions, conduct research, test and evaluate programs, and translate evidence for policymakers to invest in effective solutions. 

Our Strategic Research Objectives

Evaluate the complex relationship between social and natural systems 

Address gendered and intersectional inequalities and inequities 

Equip adolescents and young people with assets and solutions to thrive 

Improve climate-impacted health outcomes and systems 

Our Approach

Community participation and leadership  

  • Locally-defined research questions, through our 12 in-country offices and in partnership with local youth-led or indigenous grassroots organizations and thought leaders 
  • Diverse partnerships for more sustainable and context-specific solutions 
  • Global and local networks of individuals, groups, and institutions dedicated to addressing the climate crisis  

Justice and equity 

  • All of our work is rooted in principles of climate justice and equity  
  • Inclusive research and programs, with a focus on marginalized populations including women and girls, indigenous groups, migrants, and the urban poor 

Open science and transparency 

  • Commitment to open science and freely sharing code, datasets, and models to foster cross-discipline learning and collaboration 
  • Open discussion of research methods and results 

Our Technical Expertise

Data science and demographic modeling 

  • Machine learning and geospatial analysis to understand patterns and trends in urbanization and distribution of population  
  • Integration of satellite-derived and remotely sensed data with population surveys, health surveillance data 
  • Changes in demographic characteristics and distributions based on future climate and economic scenarios using our innovative Community Demographic Model—to link with climate and energy models 

Rigorous research for impact 

  • Research and evaluation to identify, test and monitor interventions and programs 
  • Implementation science to monitor active programs 
  • Use of mixed-methods studies including quantitative and qualitative approaches to contextualize findings

Research translation and policy analysis 

  • Data synthesis and partnership with governments and stakeholders to develop evidence-based and equitable policies 
  • Clear communication of research findings and processes

What's Next
  • Conduct localized research on interactions between social and natural systems, and the implications for a just transition, food security, energy and economic empowerment initiatives 
  • Differentiate the gendered and intersectional risks posed by the climate crisis; partner with feminist organizations to develop tailored and inclusive responses and policies 
  • Expand opportunities and test initiatives for adolescents and young people to understand how climate change is shaping life course trajectories by impacted formative decisions around marriage, school, or migration 
  • Generate evidence on how climate impacts population health and health systems to understand direct and indirect pathways, mechanisms and determinants of human health

Key Staff (14)

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Journal Articles (50)

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Research Publications (12)

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