Battelle’s Innovations in Climate Resilience Conference Hosts Experts to Scale Solutions for Change

alt= panelist having a discussion at the 2024 innovations of climate resilience conference

What happens when leaders and experts congregate in Washington, DC, to discuss plans and actions for addressing climate change? Battelle’s third annual Innovations in Climate Resilience Conference provided answers. This is the goal of the conference.

Battelle identified a need for a cross-sectoral conference to foster idea exchange and innovation, leading to the inception of ICR22. The following year, ICR23 emphasized Bold Leaps and Action, inspiring attendees to take action to develop resilience solutions. In its latest iteration, ICR24 relocated from Columbus, OH to Washington, DC, convening experts from policy, finance, government, industry, academia, the U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories, and policy partner Wilson Center from April 22 (Earth Day) to April 24. The theme, Scaling Solutions for Change, highlighted the intricate and vital interplay between policy, finance and R&D and the key role in executing practical solutions across adaptation, mitigation, and sustainability.

ICR24 programming provided thought-provoking keynotes, panel discussions and poster presentations that sparked active discussions, diverse perspectives and a comprehensive exploration of climate resilience. More than 180 innovative ideas and solutions were also showcased at two evening poster sessions. 

Opening remarks from Battelle's Applied Science and Technology President, Matt Vaughan, set the conference's tone by highlighting the significance of “collaboration in scaling technology from application to evolution” and educating the next generation of changemakers. Justin Sanchez, Battelle Technical Fellow and ICR chair, challenged the audience to “take tangible solutions and propel them from concept to reality in a way that positively impacts millions of people in their everyday lives.” Wes Hall, VP of Philanthropy and Education, underscored Battelle's commitment to accessible STEM education. Together, they awarded the Battelle National Climate Challenge to Faith Qin, a Virginia high school student, for her innovative proposal on "Biologic Wave Attenuators."

alt=Matt Vaughn, Wes Hall and Justin Sanchez with the icr24 climate challenge winner Faith Qin

Matt Vaughan, Wes Hall and Justin Sanchez with the Battelle National Climate Challenge winner Faith Qin

Dr. Geraldine (Geri) Richmond, Undersecretary for Science and Innovation, US Department of Energy, shared her insights on the DOE’s approach to innovation on the first evening of ICR24. She emphasized the focus on “resilience solutions and investments” to reach areas of the country where extreme weather events are impacting ecosystems and people's health. 

Sarah Ladislaw, Senior Director for Climate and Energy at the National Security Council for the White House, kicked off day two of the conference with her presentation, “U.S. Approach to Climate Resilience and Security.” She shared insights into the interplay between resilience, international collaboration and economic impact. “Partnerships are critical to driving climate change innovation with countries worldwide,” Ladislaw said. “Economically, climate preparedness pays. Every $1 invested in climate adaptation equals a $10 economic gain.”

Listen to the ICR24 episode of the America Adapts Podcast, featuring a group of diverse experts from ICR24

Franco Amalfi, Director of Sustainability Strategic Initiatives and Partners at Capgemini, spoke on mitigation and the need to decarbonize the US building sector, highlighting The U.S. Department of Energy's first national blueprint for the building sector, a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from buildings by 65% by 2035 and 90% by 2050.

The Department of Defense lively panel discussion, Preparing America’s Military for Escalating Climate Challenges, moderated by John Conger, President, Conger Strategies & Solutions, included the Honorable Meredith Berger, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations, and Environment) and Chief Sustainability Officer, Nancy J Balkus, USAF DAS for Environment, Safety and Infrastructure, Rachel Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of the United States Army Installations, Energy and Environment, and Brendan Owens, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Energy, Installations, and Environment). The audience heard from these leaders of the resilience planning in action and some specific innovations needed. Balkus described the rebuilding of Tyndall AFB to ensure resilience after it was heavily damaged following a hurricane and expressed the extreme readiness of the USAF for on-base SMRs and microreactors.

alt=icr photo gallery call out


Katie MacDonald (co-founder of Tailwind) moderated a panel discussion on Advancing Climate Resilience Through Technology. The panelists included Julia Kumari Drapkin from ISeeChangeAlex Laplaza from Kettle, and Sonam Velani from Streetlife Ventures. “We need more hard tech innovation in adaptation and resilience.  Some physical solutions like wildfire management robots are starting to be deployed, but more are needed to make an impact,” said MacDonald. “Creative and catalytic capital sources are also needed to fund new innovations in the resilience space. Philanthropy, government and the private sector must work together to build a purpose-built capital stack for a resiliency impact.”

Kelly Cummins, Acting Director, Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, US Department of Energy, closed ICR24 with her insights touching on solutions that address resilience, mitigation and sustainability. She highlighted the need to develop solutions that can scale in collaboration with the private sector and stressed a testing and learning approach as solutions are built and deployed. “We are going to help inform additional private sector investment with those learnings,” Cummins stated.

Mark your calendar for ICR25, which will be held in April 2025 at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in Washington, DC.

Follow us on our LinkedIn ICR showcase page for ICR25 registration savings, sponsorship, speaking opportunities and announcements.

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May 15, 2024
Battelle Insider
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