International

How Can Managing a Website Improve the Environment?

  May 29, 2019      Stephan Hardeman  



I grew up in a small town in New Mexico—a mountain getaway known for its hiking, camping, and skiing. Some of my earliest memories are of long winter storms and deep snows. However, over time, snowstorms became less frequent and resulted in less impressive accumulation. Water became scarcer due to reduced runoff, and by the time I entered high school, forest fires were an annual threat in spring and summer months. As a result of experiencing a changing climate firsthand, I decided to pursue a career in the environmental field, vowing to leave the world a better place than I found it.

Last year, I joined Environmental Incentives to support the company’s work on the USAID Sharing Environment and Energy Knowledge (SEEK) project. I was motivated to apply by Environmental Incentives’ core principles, which include improving the environment—something that I have had a passion for since those formative years in New Mexico.

In a nutshell, the purpose of the SEEK project is to enhance USAID’s development impact through improved knowledge management, communications, and training. Specifically, my role is to manage the Climatelinks website, which serves as “a global knowledge portal for climate and development practitioners.” Climatelinks is a highly successful example of a community of practice—a group of people with a shared passion and a desire to learn and improve together. Climatelinks sees a monthly average of 15,000 users from all over the world and hosts approximately 1,200 unique resources.

Climatelinks Resource Library hosts over 1,200 unique resources including guidance documents, webinar recordings, tools, and more.

What makes Climatelinks so successful? First, it’s important to recognize that it was created to support USAID—a large, decentralized government agency with missions all over the world, all doing good work in support of development. Along with the Washington, D.C., headquarters, these missions all produce webinars, publications, and other products that need to be archived in a format that allows for easy, widespread access. Climatelinks was developed in response to those needs and offers a way for USAID’s various missions to feature and promote their programs, activities, and publications

Climatelinks also offers a space to exchange ideas. Every month, we work closely with USAID and partners to develop a new theme and highlight USAID’s work in that area. One recent theme was climate finance, where we covered topics like the Climate Economic Analysis for Development, Investment, and Resilience Activity (CEADIR) project’s work on clean energy lending in Central America. By featuring themed content, we are able to draw attention to—and create a conversation around—specific priority areas for USAID.

Ultimately, Climatelinks is a space for partners, mainly in the form of USAID-funded projects and programs, to share their work. Through regular interactions, we can ascertain and meet partners’ needs, which are often based around highlighting the efforts they undertake in the climate and development space. One example of this is the Adaptation Thought Leadership and Assessments (ATLAS) project, which regularly hosts Adaptation Community Meetings, a monthly webinar series bringing together practitioners from around the world.

Improving the environment can—and should—take many forms. More than half of the global population now uses the internet, and an upward trend in internet use is likely to continue. As the reach of the internet continues to expand, so does its significance as a tool for change. Thus, this is how website management can improve the environment: by supplying a space for learning, collaborating, and exchanging ideas. While Climatelinks serves as a space specifically for climate practitioners, it is not the only one that Environmental Incentives operates. We also serve a similar function for the USAID Office of Forestry and Biodiversity through the Biodiversity Conservation Gateway.

Sign up to join the Climatelinks community. You can also submit blog pitches, resources, or events to share with other climate practitioners by clicking here.

About the Author

Stephan Hardeman is a Knowledge Management & Online Content Specialist for Environmental Incentives, supporting USAID’s Sharing Environment and Energy Knowledge (SEEK) initiative. In addition to developing a deep understanding of the power of visual communications and social media as a tool for effecting change, he has worked on initiatives related to climate change, water conservation, and pollution reduction.

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