No surprises? The CCC’s latest adaptation progress report

No surprises? The CCC’s latest adaptation progress report

By Kathryn Brown, Head of Adaptation at the Committee on Climate Change Secretariat.

Climate change is a cross-Government issue, and there is still much to do to increase the scale of cross-Government coordination and action to reflect that. As a tranche of new Ministers returns from the summer recess to red boxes full of EU-exit briefing, we will be trying to make our analysis heard. All of our key messages and recommendations are important, but here are three messages from the report that should not be lost amongst the din.

We know what the risks are, and with that comes a responsibility to act

The Government’s own Climate Change Risk Assessment, published every five years, sets out the current and future risks (and some opportunities) from climate change. The latest CCRA is based on the CCC’s Evidence Report, last published in 2016 and currently being updated for release in 2021. It is very clear what the risks to the UK are, from extreme heat, flooding, drought, pests and diseases; affecting both people and wildlife. Recent weather events mirror what is expected and have come as no surprise to the climate science community. The UK’s highest ever recorded temperature of 38.7°C was recorded on 25 July in Cambridge, with similar records having fallen in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands in the preceding weeks.  Severe storms and flash flooding have occurred in the north-west and Lincolnshire, with knock-on impacts on infrastructure. Last year saw an extended summer drought. All of these impacts reflect the threats facing the UK from higher temperatures, too much and too little water.

Weather in the UK is becoming more extreme, and sea level continues to rise.

A UK net zero target does not reduce the need for adaptation

To have any chance of meeting the goal of the Paris Agreement (to keep global temperature rise well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels), very ambitious, but very achievable global action to reduce emissions is needed now. To have around a 50% chance of keeping warming below 1.5°C temperature, the latest science suggests that emissions of all greenhouse gases must be reduced and global CO2 emissions need to fall rapidly from today and reach net zero around 2050. The UK’s net-zero target represents an appropriate contribution to those global efforts, but it now must be implemented and other countries must follow suit. Actions to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions taken today will have an effect on some climate hazards in the UK within decades, whilst other hazards (such as sea-level rise) will continue to increase for centuries due to time lags in the climate system. It is highly likely that average annual temperatures in the UK by 2050 will rise by between 0.5 to 2.7°C above a 1980-2000 baseline period, depending on the pathway of global emissions.  What happens beyond 2050 will be influenced even more strongly by global mitigation efforts.

Global average temperature is already around 1°C above pre-industrial temperatures, and rising. Not only do we need to plan adaptation strategies for 2°C, but also for 4°C, which could still be reached based on extrapolations of future global emissions consistent with recent trends. There are going to be limits to adaptation at 4°C, where no action is enough to manage the risk. There also remains the very real risk of triggering ‘global discontinuities’ or tipping points.  The widespread fires happening across the Arctic, and high mortality observed in reindeer populations this summer, may just be a worrying and sad taste of what is to come at higher latitudes, where warming has been much larger than the global average. Many of the tipping point effects we know about relate to the poles. The CCRA has a section on ‘climate surprises and missing processes’ such as rapid arctic ice melt and methane release from permafrost, but we know that these risks are overlooked in planning at the moment, and this needs to change.

Adaptation is not being resourced sufficiently

There has been a marked erosion of resourcing for adaptation in England since 2009. Following the publication of the 2009 UK Climate Projections, the Prime Minister asked sixteen departments to produce Departmental Adaptation Plans, which were published in 2010. These Plans contained a detailed assessment of the adaptation plans and policies of each department; something that has not been replicated in the subsequent two iterations of the National Adaptation Programme in 2013 and 2018. Government funding for adaptation support services in England – for the UK Climate Impacts Programme between 1997 and 2009, Climate Ready service between 2010 and 2017 and the nine Regional Climate Change Partnerships – has ended. Dozens of officials worked in the climate team in Defra, and with other departments to create the first NAP in 2013. This was still far fewer than the hundreds working on mitigation in the Department of Energy and Climate Change, but there was a definite upward trajectory. Only a handful of officials existed in the same team in 2018.  A team of this size cannot coordinate and support adaptation policy effectively across Government. A team of any size cannot put in place the policies needed without support and direction from Ministers and senior officials.

Adaptation should be a no-brainer. It is sustainable development.  It is going to be essential for meeting Government goals on health, biodiversity, and supporting the economy. Alongside efforts to reduce emissions, we should be seeing much greater uptake of measures like passive cooling in new and existing homes, urban greenspace including green sustainable drainage, property-level flood resilience; managed realignment of the coast; habitat restoration; monitoring of pests and disease risks; water efficiency; business continuity planning; and ongoing monitoring and data collection.

We have been saying the same simple message, over and over, for years, and will keep saying it long after the tumult of EU-exit has died down.

This article was originally published by the Committee on Climate Change read the original article here.
Cover photo by Jervis Sundays, Kenya Red Cross Society published on Creative Commons.
Danone’s dairy-farming ‘Margarita Project’ serves up a cocktail of adaptation actions

Danone’s dairy-farming ‘Margarita Project’ serves up a cocktail of adaptation actions

Mexican dairy farmers are benefiting from the ‘Margarita’ project which aims to sustain livelihoods of small-scale milk producers in the face of climate change. The project, from the international food company Danone, is designed to encourage sustainable milk-sourcing strategy in the Jalisco province. In support of the project, and with funding from PROADAPT, Acclimatise delivered a supply chain climate risk assessment that identified key climate risks and opportunities for farmers to build their resilience.

The assessment indicated that the dairy industry faces several climate risks that threaten production. One of the most significant risks is the inability of farmers to produce enough fodder (such as hay, grass and silage). If fodder yields do not cover the livestock’s nutritional needs, farmers have to purchase from suppliers, which can often be prohibitively expensive, especially if precipitated by and extreme weather event such as a drought.

Dairy cattle are also extremely vulnerable to hot temperatures because of their high metabolic rate and poor water retention, which impact their reproductive performance. High temperatures combined with increased soil moisture can also create prime conditions for the spread of pathogens and parasites.

The report also identified adaptation options that could help farmers build resilience. Importantly the assessment found that the cost-effectiveness of adaptation options was closely linked to farm size. Farms with at least 40-50 productive cows are able to introduce certain resilience measures more quickly than farms with smaller herds. For farmers ‘below the thresholds’ financial, behavioural, institutional and knowledge interventions with low-capital investment need to be introduced progressively. 

Adaptation measures identified in the report include:

  • Tree planting which drives water infiltration and preservation and protects cattle from heat stress and solar radiation whilst capturing and storing C02;
  • Installation of biodigesters to provide manure and slurry management and treatment techniques to reduce GHG emissions, improve soil quality and moisture preservation and reduce chemical fertilizer costs and associated environmental impacts; and
  • Crop surveillance for early detection of infectious diseases.

The Margarita project has provided farmers with a full suite of services to increase dairy quality and productivity. Some indicators include increases in the number of cows per farm, overall yield increase, improved milk quality and increase price per litre. The project has achieved considerable success by supplying 12% of Danone’s milk procurement volumes and doubling the incomes of over 300 small-scale dairy farmers in Jalisco.

For more details about this project, read the full report here.

Cover photo by Michael Pujals on Unsplash.
Australian corporate regulator updates guidance on climate-related disclosure

Australian corporate regulator updates guidance on climate-related disclosure

Earlier this month the Australian corporate regulator, ASIC published updates to clarify the application of its existing regulatory guidance to the disclosure of climate change-related risks and opportunities.

ASIC reviewed its guidance following the recommendations of a Senate Economics References Committee report on Carbon Risk and the Government’s response which encouraged ASIC to consider whether its high-level guidance on disclosure remained appropriate.

While ASIC’s review found that its existing, principles-based regulatory guidance remains fit for purpose, to help stakeholders to comply with their disclosure obligations, the organisation has updated its guidance to, amongst other things:

  • incorporate the types of climate change risk developed by the G20 Financial Stability Board’s Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) into its list of examples of common risks that may need to be disclosed;
  • highlight climate change as a systemic risk that could impact an entity’s financial prospects for future years and that may need to be disclosed in an operating and financial review (OFR);
  • reinforce that disclosures made outside the OFR (such as under the voluntary TCFD framework or in a sustainability report) should not be inconsistent with disclosures made in the OFR; and
  • make a minor update to INFO 203: Impairment of non-financial assets: Materials for directors to highlight climate change and other risks that may be relevant in determining key assumptions that underly impairment calculations.

The guidance has also been updated to make clear that in ASIC’s view, the risk of directors being found liable for a misleading or deceptive forward-looking statement in an OFR is minimal provided the statements are based on the best available evidence at the time, have a reasonable basis and there is ongoing compliance with the continuous disclosure obligations when events overtake the relevant statement made in the OFR.

ASIC’s review of regulatory guidance follows last year’s publication of ASIC Report 593: Climate Risk Disclosure by Australia’s Listed Companies targeting listed companies, their directors and advisors. High-level recommendations set out in REP 593 included to:

  • adopt a probative and proactive approach to emerging risks, including climate risk;
  • develop and maintain strong and effective corporate governance which helps in identifying, assessing and managing risk;
  • comply with the law where it requires disclosure of material risks; and
  • disclose meaningful and useful climate risk-related information to investors –the voluntary framework developed by the TCFD has emerged as the preferred standard in this regard and ASIC strongly encourages listed companies with material exposure to climate change to consider reporting voluntarily under the TCFD framework.

ASIC commissioner John Price said, ‘Climate change is an area which ASIC continues to focus on. The updates to our regulatory guidance, together with the publication last year of Report 593, round out ASIC’s response to the Senate Report on Carbon Risk. Our updates will help stakeholders to comply with their disclosure obligations in prospectuses and the operating and financial review for listed companies’.

ASIC welcomes the continuing emergence of the TCFD framework as the preferred market standard, both here in Australia and internationally, for voluntary climate change-related disclosures. ASIC considers this to be a positive development and we again strongly encourage listed companies with material exposure to climate change to consider reporting voluntarily under the TCFD framework.

‘While disclosure is critical, it is but one aspect of prudent corporate governance practices in connection with the mitigation of legal risks. Directors should be able to demonstrate that they have met their legal obligations in consideringmanaging and disclosing all material risks that may affect their companies. This includes any risks arising from climate change, be they physical or transitional risks.’ Mr Price said.

In the coming year, ASIC will conduct surveillances of climate change-related disclosure practices by selected listed companies. ASIC will also continue to participate in the Council of Financial Regulators’ working group on climate risk and participate in discussions with industry and other stakeholders on these issues.

Read ASICS updated regulations here:

Climate change adding to pressure on land threatening global food security finds landmark IPCC report

Climate change adding to pressure on land threatening global food security finds landmark IPCC report

By Will Bugler

Climate change is undermining human’s ability to provide enough food as pressures on soils mount. At the same time, poor land use practices are increasing global greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change and making adaptation and resilience efforts more difficult. This stark warning comes from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land, released yesterday.

The report, which is the most comprehensive study ever undertaken into the land-climate system, shows that better land management has the potential to save huge amounts of greenhouse-gas emissions. However, the growing demand for food will mean that most land must remain productive, and therefore it will not be possible to limit global warming to 2˚C, let alone 1.5˚C through land management alone.

The report found that climate change is contributing to land degradation through increased rates of erosion and desertification. “In a future with more intensive rainfall the risk of soil erosion on croplands increases,” said Kiyoto Tanabe, Co-Chair of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, “sustainable land management is a way to protect communities from the detrimental impacts of this soil erosion and landslides. However, there are limits to what can be done, so in other cases degradation might be irreversible,” he said.

The report provides some indications of the risks to land productivity from different levels of climate change. It finds that even at 1.5˚C of warming, there will be serious impacts on food and water security, making adaptation efforts essential. “New knowledge shows an increase in risks from dryland water scarcity, fire damage, permafrost degradation and food system instability, even for global warming of around 1.5°C,” said Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I. “Very high risks related to permafrost degradation and food system instability are identified at 2°C of global warming,” she said.

The fact that many scientists believe 2˚C of warming is likely to be a best-case scenario, clearly indicates that adaptation efforts should consider the implications of climate change at 3˚C and 4˚C of warming.

The report indicates that climate change poses a direct threat to global efforts to improve nutrition and end hunger. It shows how climate change is affecting all four pillars of food security: availability (yield and production), access (prices and ability to obtain food), utilization (nutrition and cooking), and stability (disruptions to availability).

“Food security will be increasingly affected by future climate change through yield declines – especially in the tropics – increased prices, reduced nutrient quality, and supply chain disruptions,” said Priyadarshi Shukla, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III. “We will see different effects in different countries, but there will be more drastic impacts on low-income countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean,” he said.

The report finds that to successfully feed the world population in the future, it is likely that dietary habits will need to change, shifting towards plan-based diets, and away from consumption of meats, especially beef, lamb and other ruminants.

The report also shows that there are ways to manage risks and reduce vulnerabilities in land and the food system, with positive results for communities’ resilience to extreme events. This can be the result of dietary changes or ensuring a variety of crops to prevent further land degradation and increase resilience to extreme or varying weather.

Download a copy of the report here.

Cover photo by James Baltz on Unsplash.
Acclimatise becomes a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment

Acclimatise becomes a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment

Acclimatise has signed up to the internationally-recognised Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). Becoming a signatory to the PRI demonstrates the company’s commitment to supporting responsible investment practices. Acclimatise will also report annually its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics to the PRI.

PRI currently has over 2,300 signatories, including asset owners, investment managers, and service providers that collectively manage over $83 trillion in assets. Last year, the PRI introduced TCFD-aligned indicators to its Reporting Framework, including reporting on four indicators of climate risks: governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics and targets. Until now, this reporting has been voluntary and disclose. This change in their reporting framework will greatly increase the amount of climate-related reporting within in its framework by signatories.

Starting in 2020, the PRI’s strategy and governance (SG) indicators will be mandatory to report, though it will remain voluntary to disclose responses publicly. These indicators include:

  • SG 01 CC: outline overall approach to climate-related risks;
  • SG 07 CC: provide overview of those in the organisation that have oversight, accountability and/or management responsibilities for climate-related issues; and
  • SG 13 CC: outline how strategic risks and opportunities are analysed.

What are the Principles for Responsible Investment?

The six Principles for Responsible Investment are a voluntary and aspirational set of investment principles that offer a menu of possible actions for incorporating ESG issues into investment practice:

  • Principle 1: We will incorporate ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes.
  • Principle 2: We will be active owners and incorporate ESG issues into our ownership policies and practices.
  • Principle 3: We will seek appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which we invest.
  • Principle 4: We will promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry.
  • Principle 5: We will work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles.
  • Principle 6: We will each report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles

Learn more about the PRI here.

Cover photo by Mike Kononov on Unsplash.
Ocean heat waves damage reefs and kill coral

Ocean heat waves damage reefs and kill coral

By Tim Radford

Heat extremes on the high seas are on the increase, with ocean heat waves disturbing ecosystems in two hemispheres and two great oceans, US scientists report.

And these same sudden rises in sea temperatures don’t just damage coral reefs, they kill the corals and start the process of reef decay, according to a separate study by Australian researchers.

Andrew Pershing of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and colleagues report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they examined data from 65 marine ecosystems over the years 1854 to 2018 to work out how frequently ocean temperatures suddenly rose to unexpected levels.

They found such deviations from the average in the Arctic, North Atlantic, eastern Pacific and off the Australian coasts. They expected to find evidence of occasional hot flushes. But they did not expect to find quite so many.

“Severe marine heatwave events can have a far more severe impact than coral bleaching – the animal dies and its underlying skeleton is all that remains”

“Across the 65 ecosystems we examined, we expected about six or seven of them would experience these ‘surprises’ each year,” Dr Pershing said. “Instead, we’ve seen an average of 12 ecosystems experiencing these warming events each year over the past seven years, including a high of 23 ‘surprises’ in 2016.”

Intense and sudden changes in sea temperatures affect crustaceans, algae, corals, molluscs and many millions of humans who depend on the oceans for income. And a new study by researchers from Australian universities reports that even a rise of 0.5°C is reflected in deaths during an outbreak of coral bleaching.

Corals live in symbiosis with algae: ocean warming periodically disturbs this normally beneficial relationship. The coral animals evert (turn out) the algae and once-lurid reefs will bleach, and become more vulnerable to disease.

Corals support the world’s richest ocean ecosystems so such changes are a challenge, both to the survival of biodiversity and to local incomes from the tourism linked to the beauty of the reefs.

Very warm water

“What we are seeing is that severe marine heatwave events can have a far more severe impact than coral bleaching: the water temperatures are so warm that that the coral animal doesn’t bleach – in terms of a loss of its symbiosis – the animal dies and its underlying skeleton is all that remains,” said Tracy Ainsworth of the University of New South Wales.

The researchers report in the journal Current Biology that they used computer tomography scanning techniques to explore the marine destruction. In 2016, more than 30% of the northern part of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef experienced temperatures higher than those in which corals can survive.

“We find that the skeleton is immediately overgrown by rapid growth of algae and bacteria,” said Bill Leggat of the University of Newcastle, a co-author.

“We show that this process is devastating not just for the animal tissue but also for the skeleton that is left behind, which is rapidly eroded and weakened.”

This article was originally published on The Climate News Network.
Cover photo of Great Barrier Reef Bleaching By CC BY-SA 2.0 fr, via Wikimedia Commons.
Meet Dr Xianfu Lu, Acclimatise’s new head of Analytics

Meet Dr Xianfu Lu, Acclimatise’s new head of Analytics

This month, Acclimatise has appointed Dr Xianfu Lu to lead its Analytics Division. Xianfu brings a wealth of experience working with the Asian Development Bank, UNDP and UNFCCC, applying the latest climate data to real-world decision-making frameworks. Xianfu will help to ensure that Acclimatise’s analytics services grow to meet the fast-growing demand for new tools and software that support climate resilient decisions. “I am exceedingly excited about joining Acclimatise,” Xianfu said, “the time has arrived for climate action: we now have the Paris Climate Agreement, we have the TCFD recommendations, and we have a corporate community and financial services sector ready to engage.”

Xianfu’s wide-ranging experience makes her ideally placed to ensure that Acclimatise continues to provide analytical tools that make climate data useful for its clients. Trained as an applied meteorologist, Xianfu has been working on climate risk assessment and management for over 20 years. She began her career as a research scientist developing and applying climate risk scenarios at the University of East Anglia and was a coordinating lead author for the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Since then, Xianfu has been putting her technical expertise into practice. She has worked with the UNDP providing technical support to over 140 countries for their vulnerability and adaptation assessments and has worked at the UNFCCC secretariat including leading the support for negotiations on a number of issues related to climate resilience and adaptation within the Paris Climate Agreement. Most recently, Xianfu was the adaptation lead of the Asian Development Bank where she helped establish and operationalise the institution’s climate risk assessment and management framework.

“It’s very exciting to have Xianfu joining the company” said Acclimatise CEO John Firth, “we have ambitious plans for our Analytics business and Xianfu’s knowledge and experience makes her perfectly placed to ensure that our tools and software continue to lead the market.”

Xianfu’s experience at ADB included working with Acclimatise’s Aware for Projects™ tool which forms part of the physical climate risk screening process for ADB’s investments. Her experience institutionalising the climate risk framework gave her a clear appreciation of the challenge of developing tools that can be integrated into decision-making processes successfully. According to Xianfu, this remains the challenge for data analytics companies. “Although there has been a rapid growth in the offerings of data analytics including AI-enabled tools, truly user-friendly and technically robust analytics tools remain a rarity,” she said.

We have never known so much about the Earth’s climate system as we do today. The amount of scientific data and information about past, present and future climate is growing exponentially, as historic records are digitised, satellites provide earth observation data on a daily basis, and climate models become ever-more advanced. However, climate data alone is not sufficient to enable corporates, investors or governments to make better decisions and build climate resilience. “Since physical climate risk is a topic new to businesses and the financial services sector, external professional services are needed to identify, quantify, manage and disclose material risks and opportunities.” Explains Xianfu, “given the technical complexity of assessing and managing physical climate risk… analytics tools and software are needed.”

If done well, climate analytics software can help financial institutions and businesses to assess physical climate risks across their portfolios in line with TCFD recommendations and can facilitate climate-resilient investment decisions. “It is particularly important to highlight that analytics software must be user-friendly so that the task of assessing physical climate risks and opportunities is manageable and makes practical sense and, at the same time, is technically sound,” said Xianfu. “To achieve this, we need not only climate information based on state-of-the-art climate science but also a thorough understanding of the business processes and decision criteria of any given business or financial services industry.”

As well as driving forward the development of new analytics tools, Xianfu will help build on the successes of Acclimatise’s current range of climate tools and software. “With Xianfu on board, we will continue to refine and develop our existing commercial tools such as Aware™ which is used by four of the largest development banks to screen their investments for climate risk and identify investment opportunities, MiCA which enables the mining sector to access relevant climate data for any asset anywhere in the world, and our thresholds tool which combines climate data with asset thresholds to support corporates to understand climate risks to their facilities and operations.” said Bob Khosa, Technical Director of Acclimatise Analytics.

Xianfu is confident that Acclimatise’s fifteen-years of experience of integrating climate risks into decision-making processes through its advisory services can be increasingly leveraged in support of its analytics offerings. “With a most talented and dedicated team and unparalleled experience in delivering climate risk assessment and management services, Acclimatise cannot be a better home for me to apply my unique skill sets, to support the management of climate risks and opportunities for our clients, through which we can help to strengthen climate resilience of economies, communities and natural environments around the world.”

Acclimatise becomes an Associate Member of GEO

Acclimatise becomes an Associate Member of GEO

Acclimatise is proud to announce that it has been officially recognised as an Associate Member of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). Formally accepted at the 48th GEO Executive Committee in Geneva, Switzerland last month, Acclimatise will join the GEO Member governments and participating organisations in informing the development and implementation of the GEO Work Programme.

The GEO is an intergovernmental partnership that improves the availability, access and use of Earth observations for a sustainable planet. Promoting open, coordinated and sustained data sharing and infrastructure for better research, the GEO offers all countries the opportunity to benefit from collective knowledge, expertise and skills to develop national Earth observations programmes.

“With the in-depth understanding of its wide-ranging clients’ analytics needs and long-standing industry experience, Acclimatise is uniquely positioned to take full advantage of the opportunities that the Associate Membership of the GEO would present,” said Head of Analytics Dr Xianfu Lu.  “In particular, through leveraging the wealth of data, information and knowledge and the partnerships made possible by the GEO, Acclimatise aims to develop cutting-edging analytics tools that enable climate resilience solutions and investment opportunities.”

Acclimatise is unique in the Earth Observation community drawing on its fifteen years’ of experience advising corporates, financial institutions and governments to develop climate resilience solutions based on EO-data. In doing so, Acclimatise is able to provide significant added value through its unique focus on cloud-based software to deploy EO-based data in combination with climate projections and other socio-economic data sets. Such solutions will support the efforts of governments, corporates and the financial services sectors in delivering climate- and disaster-resilient development.

For more information, view the full list of GEO Associates here.

Cover photo of Iraq flood posted under CC by-SA 3.0-igo from Wikimedia Commons.
Belize launches its Country Programme, Toolkit and Readiness Support 2 for engagement with the Green Climate Fund

Belize launches its Country Programme, Toolkit and Readiness Support 2 for engagement with the Green Climate Fund

Tuesday August 13th, 2019- The Radisson Hotel and Marina, Belize City.

  • Belize has developed its Country Programme for engagement with the Green Climate Fund, containing a long list of 24 project proposals, 4 Readiness and Preparatory Support Programme requests and 1 Project Preparation Facility request.
  • A new Toolkit to help organisations in Belize understand and access funding through the Green Climate Fund was also launched.
  • The Toolkit provides guidance to Belize’s Ministry of Economic Development and Petroleum to undertake its duties as the country’s National Designated Authority, with the support of the Belize National Climate Change Committee.
  • A series of communications materials including briefing notes and infographics accompany the Toolkit, which also serve as awareness raising tools for national stakeholders who wish to access GCF funding.

Since 2015, Belize has engaged with the Green Climate Fund to improve access to international funds and to encourage investment in projects and programmes that will help the country prevent and cope with climate change and its impacts.

For this purpose, the Government of Belize has appointed CEO Yvonne Hyde of MEDP as National Designated Authority (NDA) to the GCF.

Through the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), the MEDP received a GCF Readiness grant approved in December 2016, designed to enhance the existing capacity within the NDA as well as develop a Country Programme for climate-related investments, thereby supporting appropriate oversight of the GCF activities at the country level.

Belize is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change and while the country has contributed less to global greenhouse gas emissions, it is expected to suffer from adverse impacts on its key socio-economic sectors including agriculture and water resources, coastal and marine resources, fisheries and aquaculture, forestry, biodiversity, tourism, human health, energy and transport infrastructure, as well as land use and human settlements.

The 5-year Country Programme, developed with the support of Acclimatise through a broad consultative process, includes a pipeline of 24 project proposals, 4 Readiness and Preparatory Support Programme requests and 1 Project Preparation Facility request, addressing key climate risks and capacity gaps in Belize, that will be submitted to the GCF for funding.

In addition, a Toolkit for the Green Climate Fund’s National Designated Authority in Belize has been launched by the Government with the assistance of Acclimatise. It primarily aims at providing guidance to Belize’s NDA to perform its GCF-related roles and responsibilities. The NDA will be supported in performing these functions by the Belize National Climate Change Committee (BNCCC). Moreover, all prospective recipients of GCF funding must submit a concept note and/or a full funding proposal that comply with GCF requirements and are in line with Belize’s strategic climate and development objectives. Applications for funding must be submitted to the MEDP that, as Belize’s NDA, is responsible for overseeing the ‘no-objection procedure’ which is used to assess the quality of proposals, including with the expertise provided by the BNCCC and its sub-committees.

A policy brief, briefing note and an infographic were also developed on the same themes for wider dissemination among Belize’s stakeholders.

Lastly, In February 2019, the NDA has received additional Readiness support that seeks to address the remaining capacity and coordination issues for accessing international climate finance in the country, including provision of post-accreditation support to the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT), Belize’s first national accredited entity as of October, 2018. Additionally, this readiness support will see support for accreditation of additional national entities including Belize Social Investment Fund and the Development Finance Corporation, which will open up new opportunities for Belize.

Cover photo by J. Smith on Wikimedia Commons.
EO4SD climate cluster collaborates with World Bank applying EO support to Lake Victoria Basin projects

EO4SD climate cluster collaborates with World Bank applying EO support to Lake Victoria Basin projects

The Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) Climate Resilience Cluster has been working with International Financial Institutes (IFIs) to develop a satellite-based integrated climate screening and risk management service to build capacity in IFI client states and help them meet long-term climate resilient development planning goals. The Cluster is supporting future environment and natural resources management (ENRM) projects in partnership with the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) to develop an environmental management project for the Lake Victoria Basin. The LVBC coordinates the partner states of the East African Community in managing the Basin.

The Basin is Africa’s largest freshwater lake and is spread across 5 countries – Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda. The ENRM projects in the Great Lakes region aim to strengthen transboundary natural resource management by improving regional information services on water quality and ecosystem health, encouraging sustainable land and water resource management (SLWM) and building climate resilience in select hotspots in the Basin. These projects will increase the LVBC’s capacity to deliver on its mandate of coordinating the management of water quality in the Basin.

The Basin currently faces multiple environmental, economic and social challenges. Different hotspots in the Basin are under pressure from a combination of factors such as high population density, land use change, and water and land pollution due to inefficient waste management and treatment. These factors are contributing to the degradation of Lake Victoria.

The Lake has turbid waters with high chlorophyll concentrations turning them green. Excessive turbidity and chlorophyll concentrations indicate high mineral density in the water and poor water quality, a problem that is being exacerbated by climate change, which will increase the rate of environmental degradation in the Lake. Rising temperatures will accelerate the growth of floating macrophytes (aquatic plants), which will reduce the oxygen content of the lake. The conditions for disease vectors such as mosquitos are also likely to become more favourable and the increasing frequency and severity of floods and droughts will further drive erosion and increase sediment in runoff.

Water hyacinth in Winam Gulf (Lake Victoria). Floating water hyacinth areas are depicted in red. Obtained from satellite imagery: MODIS (250 m) on 22nd March 2019 (left) and Sentinel-2 (10 m) on 18th March 2019 (right). More explanations in this Youtube video.
The image shows us the trend in lake surface temperature in the Basin from 1991 to 2010. Displayed in the EO4SD CR platform

Hotspots under pressure

In the Nyabugogo catchment in Rwanda, one of the Lake Victoria’s hotspots, urban settlements within the catchment are already living with the consequences of environmental degradation due to the exploitation of natural resources for agricultural and industrial activities, severe pollution and significant changes in land use. The catchment is at high risk of fluvial and pluvial flooding, with surrounding farmland and villages being frequently inundated. The economy in the Basin area is entirely dependent on water and land resources for agriculture and industry. These effects will be exacerbated by changing climate patterns and climate related events, threatening the economic stability of the region.

Following a high-level climate risk analysis of the Nyabugogo catchment, the cluster identified several adaptation options along with relevant EO data layers. One of the options identified involves synthesis of multi-parameter remote sensing data to monitor and manage catchment changes, which will help monitor catchment health and identify and remedy incipient catchment hazards. This can be enabled by building the GIS and Remote Sensing (RS) capacity of LVBC to enable them to receive, store and synthesise up-to-date and quality remotely sensed spatial data and information on the Basin. Data may cover a broad spectrum of themes, such as lake levels, lake water quality, water hyacinth, land use/land cover changes and biodiversity trends.

Shoreline changes in the mouth of the Nyando River from 1984 to 2019. Its basin is one of the most degraded of all the river basins in the Kenyan portion of the Lake Victoria Basin. False colour is chosen to emphasize changes in vegetation. Plant-covered land is red. Water bodies are dark blue, while turbid water appears in shades of cyan compared to clear water.

Products developed by the cluster include the historic evolution of hyacinth and lake surface temperature, along with the evolution of lake shoreline erosion, for the Winam Gulf part of the Basin. This information can be used, for example, to identify the location and sources of pollution hotspots in industrial and agricultural areas. Following the development of these prototypes, the climate resilience cluster plans to extend the analysis to other hot spots of the Lake Victoria as part of a regular monitoring service, such as monthly changes in water hyacinth cover or lake shoreline erosion. Access to this level of data can improve the LVBC’s capacity to manage its resources across country boundaries and improve regulations to meet the immediate and long-term needs of the Basin to maintain its ecological integrity.

The datasets used for the Lake Victoria project, land surface temperature (LST) and water hyacinth detection (currently based on vegetation indexes) are global and can be provided for other parts of the world. The products developed for Lake Victoria Basin can also be applied to other areas, improving data availability for informed decision making and for mainstreaming climate resilience in development planning.

This article was originally published on the EO4SD Climate Resilience website.
Cover photo of Lake Victoria from Wikimedia Commons.