Impact 2022: Omega—Navigating the Global Polycrisis


Michael Lerner, Director, and Stanley Wu, Coordinator, Omega

November 9, 2022

Environmental Health
Nature and Ecology

The headlines for the global polycrisis change weekly. At this writing, climate, COVID, and conflicts without end remain the principal headlines.

  • Unbearable heat, fierce storms, devastating floods, failing crops, and catastrophic forest fires bear testament to the changing climate.
  • Much of the world has decided to live with COVID—despite immense human costs—but China, once praised for its drastic crackdowns, is now paying the price.
  • Surging refugees, starvation, economies disrupted, and the toxification of the entire biome are all grim realities.
  • Artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, robotics, and nanotech are the four technological horsemen driving so much of global transformation.

How do we learn to live with courage, clarity, and compassion in a world on fire? Omega incubates strategic initiatives for living in the polycrisis. This year, Omega was active in four initiatives.

Omega Resilience Awards and Research Grants

The Omega Resilience Awards (ORA) fellowship program supports young visionary leaders in the Global South. Our fellowship anchor institutions are the Asociación Argentina de Abogados Ambientalistas in Latin America, Start Up! in India, and Health of Mother Earth Foundation in Africa. The focus is on their understanding of the polycrisis. ORA Research Grants support analyses of the polycrisis from action research organizations. Grants are underway for the Cascade Institute in Canada, the Post Carbon Institute in Oregon, Global Tapestry of Alternatives based in India and Mexico with partners around the world, and Cohort 2040 in the United Kingdom.

Omega Website and The Long View

By the time you read this, Omega will have launched a greatly enhanced website and platform. Our expanded Long View is now an online magazine linked to a searchable database of curated articles.

The Omega Collaborative

The Omega Collaborative houses our engagement with global networks of Omega partners, colleagues, and others working on polycrisis resilience. This year, we have presented webinar conversation with Ian Goldin, Oxford professor and past vice president of the World Bank, whose new book RescueFrom Global Crisis to a Better World—is a blueprint for a new world. We spoke to Kim Stanley Robinson about his book The Ministry for the Future—a radical utopian speculative novel describing how we might actually stabilize the climate. Tatsujiro Suzuki, a leading authority on Fukushima, spoke about new nuclear threats like those to the nuclear power plants in Ukraine. We heard from Rachel Kyte, the British Dean of the Fletcher School of Diplomacy, who spoke on the polycrisis challenge for global institutions. And we heard from Thomas Homer-Dixon, founder of the Cascades Institute in British Columbia, author of such seminal works as The Upside of Down and Command Hope.

Resilience Funders Network

The Resilience Funders Network (RFN) is an unusual hybrid network serving the funder community. Unlike classic funder affinity groups, RFN includes present and past foundation board and staff and private donors. RFN offers webinars, private sessions for engaged funders, and consultations for individual foundation, legacy family, and funder affinity groups. Now in its fourth year, RFN serves a relatively small but increasingly influential funder community. It simply takes time for foundations to move from an exclusive focus on their areas of interest to a recognition that the polycrisis affects everything they care about.

Do we have a solution for navigating the polycrisis? No. Are we engaged heart and soul in the search for how to navigate these world-changing times? We have no choice.

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