Executive Q&A with Iggy Bassi, CEO of Cervest

Founder and CEO, Iggy Bassi tells the story of how he developed ‘Climate Intelligence’ to solve some of humankind’s biggest climate-related problems

Iggy Bassi believes in five years, climate will be the core of every business and investment decision. Open, networked Climate Intelligence will make it possible.

Cervest creates ‘Climate Intelligence’ for every person, asset, and decision. Climate Intelligence transforms how humanity builds, manages, and de-risks its most valuable assets. Open, democratised, transparent Climate Intelligence enables humankind to adapt and decarbonise at scale — powering a ‘Climate Intelligence Network’ that builds an equitable and resilient future for our planet.

According to Cervest, humanity’s dangerously limited grasp of climate volatility became clear to Founder and CEO Iggy Bassi while running a sustainable agribusiness in West Africa. People dismissed successive adverse weather as freak events, but Bassi was convinced the science told a different story.

Could climate-related impacts on farms and facilities be anticipated – and adapted for? Bassi teamed up with Imperial College and the Alan Turing Institute to find answers, which involved the combination of peer-reviewed science with machine learning to create a cutting-edge framework for quantifying asset-level risk globally.

Bassi realised the magnitude of the problem demanded more than just climate risk analytics. He envisioned a new era of mass open intelligence that could be scaled and democratised for any user on the planet. Cervest calls this ‘Climate Intelligence’.

Bassi joins Technology Magazine to tell us more…

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What is the technical/people problem you solve at Cervest?

Reaching Net Zero is vital to future climate stability, but even if we were to attain this goal tomorrow, decades of historic emissions mean that climate volatility is now locked into Earth’s system for years to come. Decarbonisation is essential but insufficient. Adaptation is every bit as critical: asset security underpins our future social and economic stability and we must build resilience to climate volatility. Many years of personal experience across the tech, financial and agricultural sectors have taught me that extreme weather does not cause disasters; vulnerability does.

The main issue has been that most decision-makers have no idea where to start. Climate science is complex and often siloed. It is not business-useful. In fact, in a Cervest survey, we recently found that nine out of ten decision-makers said their company had already seen at least one physical asset like an office or warehouse, affected by extreme weather in the past five years. But in contrast, only half said they had factored climate change into their risk management planning. 

Cervest is solving this need to understand and future proof individuals, organisations and economies against the accelerating risk from climate change. Specifically, we provide the insights and the tools to assess, plan for, report on and price climate risk at an asset level. Our open and networked Climate Intelligence (CI) platform fuses together earth science, AI and machine learning, to translate climate risk complexity into easy-to-interpret, decision-useful insights that can be seamlessly integrated into risk management and reporting workflows. 

How does the brand differentiate from others?

Advanced science and technology.

Climate Intelligence is a brand new category, but the science behind it has been around for decades – accessible only to scientists. We recognise the crucial role that robust and pioneering science must play in advancing our decision-making power in the business, public and personal realms too. Our world-class team of scientists have collectively contributed to or authored over 250 peer-reviewed publications. We have spent five years unifying this complex climate science and applying advanced machine learning techniques to create a pioneering methodology that we call Earth Science AI™.  Earth Science AI is the intelligence engine behind Cervest’s Climate Intelligence platform. The level of scientific and technical rigour that we’ve applied to make complex and dynamic climate data decision-useful for non-scientists is unmatched in the industry. 

Asset level quantification.

We’re building a novel network of asset-level Climate Intelligence to provide a unified and continually learning ‘health check’ that assesses the climate risk of the world’s built, linear and natural assets; across multiple hazards, timelines and climate scenarios. We’ve already mapped hundreds of millions of built assets. Granular climate risk insights enable decision-makers to act on individual assets. Equally, the power of our networked platform propagates and integrates this intelligence from the building, to the city on a global scale.

Open intelligence.

Protecting our shared assets necessitates democratised and open access to Climate Intelligence. This can’t be a case of the haves and have-nots, where only a few privileged parties have access to the most advanced Climate Intelligence to adapt their assets. ‘Walled garden’ approaches to data are counteractive to the collaborative work we must do to survive and thrive in the coming years. When it comes to climate change, we will either all win, or we will all lose. At Cervest, we’re committed to making Climate Intelligence open to everyone. Seeing and sharing one another’s risks incentivises collective adaptation action that drives collaboration and behaviour change at scale. Assets may be owned, but risks are frequently shared. The resulting Climate Intelligence Network™ enables us to collaborate with transparency as we adapt with climate change and transition to a low-carbon society.

What is Cervest's vision, values, purpose and culture?

Our mission is to empower everyone to adapt with climate change and build a resilient future for our planet. We envision a world where Climate Intelligence is integrated into every decision.   

As a certified B Corporation, we are striving to be an impact company that promotes a diverse and supportive work culture. We hold a long-term commitment to upholding rigorous standards in five key impact areas: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers. It would be great to see more tech companies adopt B Corp standards.

We operate as a remote-first company and promote values in objectivity, community, integrity, humility, curiosity, and beneficence. These values are underpinned by a framework of principles that guide what we do and how we do it: privacy, autonomy, impact-driven, responsibility, holistic approach, equity, sustainability, prudence, and transparency. Together, our values and principles ensure that accountability and ethical decision making are at the heart of the work we do.

Any recent press-worthy success?

Climate Intelligence Council

We recently announced the Cervest Climate Intelligence Council (CIC). The CIC brings together world leaders in climate, science, finance, business and policy, elevating Climate Intelligence across all enterprise and government sectors, and advocating for asset-level climate analysis as a critical tool to build resiliency for our most important asset, planet Earth.

There are nine members so far, with new appointments to be announced in the coming weeks. Current CIC members include Professor Mark Girolami (Chief Scientist at the Alan Turing Institute), Dominic Kniveton (Professor of Climate Change and Society at the University of Sussex); Karen McKinnon (Associate Prof Statistics / Climate Science at UCLA);  David Sobotka (former Head of Fixed Income at Merrill Lynch), Dr. Nadia Schadlow (former US Deputy National Security Advisor) and most recently, Carol Browner (former head of the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S.) and R.P. Eddy (former White House National Security Council).


New data visualisation capabilities

On Earth Day, we released a groundbreaking visualisation showing San Francisco’s climate-related flood risk. It’s often been said that an image is worth a thousand words and never has this been more true than in the case of climate change. This striking visualisation — the first developed by our new data visualisation capability — reveals one of the many consequences of continued climate inaction. It clearly shows risk over a well-known area of San Francisco. Based on a business as usual (BAU) emissions scenario, the image shows a stark and clearly visible change in coastal flooding risk between 2020 and 2100. 

These images have been created using a coastal flooding model developed internally by Cervest and combining it with data from OpenStreetMap, satellite imagery from Mapbox, LandSat, and a digital terrain model provided by NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), processed using open source tools including Python and Blender.

Case studies Cervest is proud of 

In the last year, 50 large public and private companies, and public sector organisations, have joined our EarthScan Early Access Program. Based in Europe and the U.S., they span several sectors, including manufacturing and real estate.

One major architecture firm is using EarthScan to inform pre-development design and construction decisions, and to conduct greenfield and brownfield climate risk assessments on its commercial real estate developments. It has used EarthScan’s insights, to select appropriate building materials to protect against identified climate risks. For example, using EarthScan, they discovered a large reduction in wind speed on one development, meaning natural airflow in the building would be drastically reduced.. In response, they redesigned the HVAC system and added more windows into the building design to increase natural airflow. By making them double-glazed they were also able to reduce incoming air pollution.


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