Roberta Boscolo in the field © Roberta Boscolo archives

How to reach a sustainable future
Roberta Boscolo, Climate and Energy Lead at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) shares her tips for living more sustainably
1 Jun 2023

In what ways can we all make steps to help climate change without compromising our lifestyles?

It is important to understand that currently, and even more so in the future, climate change is going to impact every aspect of our lives and everything that we care for. Our favorite forests, beaches, lakes, ski resorts, home, and family. The cause of climate change is our carbon-intensive lifestyles, so this is what must change. Only systematic shifts in our habits will have a real impact. We don’t need a handful of people flawlessly adopting sustainable lifestyles; instead, we need millions of people striving for sustainability, even if they cannot achieve perfection. By reducing energy consumption and making our homes more energy-efficient, we can lower our carbon footprint. A few examples include: turning lights and electronics off when not in use, using more power-efficient appliances or contracting utilities with a high percentage of renewable energy sources. Consuming fewer animal products or shifting to a plant-based diet also contribute positively, as meat production is a major pollutant. Using public transport, switching to electric vehicles, or making healthy transport choices (such as walking or cycling) also lead to cleaner air. Additionally, we can reduce waste by repairing and reusing items like our clothes, recycling bags and packaging, and constantly reflecting on how to make better choices in our daily lives.

How have the recent advancements in technology benefited the work you do?

Despite the incredible technological advancements that we experienced in recent years, many vulnerable communities around the world still lack the knowledge and resources to anticipate hazardous weather and take action to save lives and protect livelihoods. Therefore, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is focusing on the ‘Early Warning for All’ initiative over the next five years, aligning with the vision of the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres. We are all under the same storm but some of us are in better equipped boats than others, which is an inequality we want to abolish. WMO infrastructure with national, regional, and global centers plays a pivotal role in collecting data and redistributing relevant information to every person on Earth.

Technology advancements have significantly aided WMO in the realm of observations that are crucial for early warning systems and are at the core of the organization’s work. New technology such as satellites, sensors and radars are helping with global coverage of observations, thus improving accuracy in weather and climate forecasting. These new technologies especially help in collecting data in challenging areas such as mountain ranges, poles, and oceans. Progress in computer models and simulations, together with more powerful computers, allows us to make accurate high-resolution weather and climate predictions that are crucial for policymakers and planners who need to make decisions about infrastructure, water management, agriculture, and so on. Moreover, technology has allowed the WMO to improve its global data-sharing and communication networks, which are essential for tracking weather patterns and disseminating warnings and alerts to the most vulnerable communities around the world.

What does the future of sustainable living look like to you?

Sustainable living in my view means a world that sustains current and future generations without compromising the ability of the natural system to function properly, and to provide the services that we need. We have a global plan to achieve this through the UN’s Sustainability Goals, which include the transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hydropower. We’ve already started implementing changes and possess the tools needed to accomplish our objectives. There is a sense of climate anxiety because of the gravity of the situation and the urgency in the narrative surrounding climate change. However, we have the resources to change the course to a more sustainable trajectory, so there is no need for panic.

We can already see excellent examples in action, such as minimizing waste and pesticides, promoting regenerative agricultural practices based on science and innovation, and constructing energy-efficient buildings, for example with rooftop solar panels. Creating energy communities will allow us to generate and share energy with essential services like schools and hospitals.

This year, I’m honored to be part of the expert advisory panel of the Earthshot Prize, where I have been reviewing solutions for ‘Fix Our Climate’. It is inspiring to see the solutions ready to be scaled up to solve our climate problem. These include more powerful and long-lasting batteries, and new cost-effective solar panels which provide off-grid energy access to rural African villages. It has been a great privilege to serve as an expert and it has given me lots of hope for the future. Innovation is at the heart of our success as individuals, businesses, and governments. We can all feel empowered to enact these changes, thinking of the benefits, not the constraints, of living in a more sustainable world. 

* Mollie Fraser-Andrews is Editorial Coordinator for UN Today.
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