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SIPA’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fellows, winners of the 2018 Geneva Challenge on Climate Change

How can we prevent violence caused by climate change?

In Africa’s Sahel region, the belt south of the Sahara Desert, herding and agriculture contribute to almost 90% of the economy. As climate change affects the land, animal herders and farmers increasingly move elsewhere for better conditions. But this can quickly lead to violent conflict as they compete for limited resources and scarcity worsens.

Through a new project, Data Analytics for Sustainable Herding (DASH), students from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) are exploring the use of big data, AI, and machine learning technology to prevent violence directly caused by the effects of climate change.

DASH maps and visualizes changes in migration patterns, climate, and resource use. It also maps violent conflicts and analyzes causes. Using machine learning, DASH combines this information into a model that can predict natural resource shortages and violent conflicts close to real-time. The model can be used to design effective policies to prevent violence.

The project won the 2018 Geneva Challenge for Climate Change, a competition among graduate students “to present innovative and pragmatic solutions to address the main challenges of today’s world.” Learn more.

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