Category: Development

Climate poses direct risk to real estate investment says ULI report

Climate poses direct risk to real estate investment says ULI report

By Will Bugler

The known and growing risks posed by climate change to large-fixed asset investments, has done little to put off some lenders from financing real-estate in some of the world’s most vulnerable areas. Such actions are coming under increasing scrutiny, with many investors and forecasters calling them ‘insane’. In a recent report, the Urban Land Institute and real-estate investment management firm Heitman assess the potential impacts of climate change on real estate assets and give some direction as to what investment managers and institutional investors might do to understand and reduce their climate risk exposure.

The report shows that while although many assets held by real estate investors are in cities vulnerable to the effects of climate change, most still rely on insurance to guide their risk decisions. However, as premiums are based on historical events, they are not a robust guide to climate change risk to investments. The report shows that physical risks from catastrophic events and chronic climate risk from slower changes to weather patterns, pose direct risk to real estate investments.

Derived from a series of interviews with leading institutional investors, investment managers, investment consultants and others, the report also shows that a growing group of investors and investment managers are exploring new approaches to find better tools and common standards to help the industry get better at pricing in climate risk in the future. These include:

  • Mapping physical risk for current portfolios and potential acquisitions;
  • Incorporating climate risk into due diligence and other investment decision-making processes;
  • Incorporating additional physical adaptation and mitigation measures for assets at risk;
  • Exploring a variety of strategies to mitigate risk, including portfolio diversification and investing directly in the mitigation measures for specific assets; and
  • Engaging with policymakers on city-level resilience strategies, and supporting the investment by cities in mitigating the risk of all assets under their jurisdiction.

Such tools and methods are becoming necessary to reassure institutional investors and other lenders that their investments are secure. The report points to a series of resources, standards and guidelines that form part of a rapidly developing toolkit that can be used to better understand and manage climate risk.

It is becoming increasingly likely that investors will be expected, and indeed required, to ensure appropriate risk management measures are in place to protect investments from climate risk exposure, and to encourage more robust practices in real-estate construction and development.

A copy of the ULI report “Climate risk and real estate investment decision-making” can be found here.


Cover photo by Chuttersnap on Unsplash.
Webinar: How can EO data support climate resilient development?

Webinar: How can EO data support climate resilient development?

The European Space Agency’s Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SDClimate Resilience Cluster is holding a webinar to demonstrate the potential for Earth Observation to contribute to climate resilient development objectives.

The webinar “How can EO data support climate resilient development?”  will take place twice on the 11th June 2019:

  • 10-11 am CEST / 3-4 pm PHT
  • 3-4 pm CEST / 9-10 am EST.

Register for your preferred time. Download and share the webinar invitation.

Climate change impacts and sustainable development

The UN Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement, and numerous regional and national level development plans and strategies are explicit about the potential for climate change and its impacts to derail development efforts and reverse the trend of declining global poverty.

However, developing a picture of how climate impacts affect the environment and society can be difficult, especially in regions where data is missing, incomplete or inaccurate. Earth observation (EO) data helps in this regard by providing timely and accurate information in large quantities about the Earth’s atmosphere, landmasses, and oceans.

Combined with socio-economic data, EO data can provide useful information that can show potential climate risks and allow decision makers to develop strategies to build resilience. Since 2008, the European Space Agency has worked closely with International Financing Institutions (IFIs) and their client countries to harness the benefits of EO in their operations and resources management.

About the EO4SD initiative

Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) is an ESA initiative which aims at increasing the uptake of EO-based information in regular development operations at national and international level. Over the past year, the ESA EO4SD – Climate Resilience Cluster – has been working with IFIs to develop an EO-based integrated climate screening and risk management service and build capacity in IFI client states so that stakeholders can use EO-based information for climate resilient decision making.

Regionalism, human rights and migration in relation to climate change

Regionalism, human rights and migration in relation to climate change

By Cosmin Corendea

In a recent research project supported by the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and AXA Research Fund, I focused on the main two systems of law in the Pacific – state or national legislation and traditional, customary law – and how the differences between the two could create legal risks when implementing international law associated with climate change, such as the 2015 Paris Agreement. The final policy report, launched in November 2017 at COP23 in Bonn, Germany, produced a set of seven concrete recommendations for policy makers and negotiators when addressing migration and human rights in the context of climate change.

Some of the recommendations emphasise the need of an harmonisation between the two legal systems in the Pacific (state/national and traditional) so as to create a single coherent system that can fill in the gaps and help implement international law, such as Paris Agreement. Other recommendations express an acute need for the process of migration to be continuously recognised by the countries in the region and started to be addressed at both technical and political level.

However, there are two main conclusions of the research that are applicable on a larger scale, beyond the characteristics of one country or region in particular.

The importance of hybrid international law

The concept of hybrid international law, as developed since 2007, refers to environmental law, human rights, and refugee or migration law. It demonstrates an interrelation between the three, and shows that climate change cannot be addressed without referring to human rights or migration – as direct or subsidiary effects.

Today, based on a reciprocal cause-effect relationship, we can’t address environmental degradation – including climate change – without taking into account human rights and/or migration. This analysis applies to all environmental-degradation events and disasters, regardless of whether the process is slow (such as sea-level rise, salinization, etc.) or rapid (flooding, extreme storms, etc.). For example, the immediate consequence of a flood could be human-rights violations in the affected community – children could be unable from going to school (the right to education), elderly people may be unable to reach medical facilities (the right to health care), and so on.

Immediately after the human-rights violation (happening at state level due to its obligation to protect and ensure the access to different rights), decisions are usually made by families and individuals depending on the severity of the event: either to stay (adapt) or to flee (migrate). Research in my book Legal Protection of the Sinking Islands Refugees (2016) shows that almost 30% of the people worldwide decide to migrate, mostly due to the limited capacity of states to assist in the adaptation process.

The decision to migrate is not exclusively based on environmental reasoning. It can include limitations to human-rights access as well economic issues. Most importantly, migration may itself lead to human-rights violations, including the right to a clean and healthy environment and ultimately contribute to environmental degradation and climate change. This interlinked and interconnected view of environmental degradation, human rights and (forced) migration represents a change of paradigm, a concrete conceptualisation of the states’ duty to protect or common but differentiated responsibility application for both sending and receiving communities.

Reflected also in the decision of the households to migrate or adapt – or use of migration as an adaptive tool when affected by environmental degradation – this nexus enlarges any state’s immediate actions, including as the duty to rescue, to a medium- to long-term approach, which is much more complex.

Thinking and working regionally

Another core finding is that the regional approach, in general proves more effective when developing, initiating and eventually implementing a migration policy.

In September 2016, the UN General Assembly discussed issues related to migration and refugees. In adopting the “New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants”, the 193 UN member states recognised the need for a comprehensive approach to human mobility and enhanced cooperation at global level. The Global Compact for Migration is framed consistent with target 10.7 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in which member states committed to cooperate internationally to facilitate safe, orderly and regular migration and its scope is defined in Annex II of the New York Declaration.

However, it is clear that the actual migration process at UN level has unfortunately become quite political and, moreover, parties are not eager to address climate-related mobility. Although the number of climate migrants is rising every year and there are no global policies to respond, member states are very reluctant to recognise climate change as a threat. While the Paris Agreement created a sense of political momentum, the actual process has lost its shine and interest of some parties, even as they all continue to face concrete migration struggles around the world.

Residents of of the Lekehio Village on Tanna Island, Vanuatu in 2016. The community faced water shortages and environmental threats at the time. While they didn’t migrate, they consider it an option. Author provided

However, there are previous regional experiences that proven to be more effective than global ones such as environmental (bi- and multi-lateral) agreements with a greater impact in domestic legislation and a better reflection of the priorities countries find to be important in those particular cases.

In general, regional documents have an important characteristic that is significantly lost in global agreements, conventions or any other legal forms, and that is represented by identity. Regions have common and distinctive cultural, social and even legal individualities. These spring from communities and define the countries in an idiosyncratic manner, and can include common historical ties, traditions, social structures or cultural and religious manifestations that are better preserved and protected at regional level than globally. In relation to the environment, regions do have specific approaches that are quite difficult to be conserved in global negotiations, but much easier at regional level, as it is very probable to be shared between countries and even define an entire region.

States not only have to address present migration humanitarian crises, but they also must regulate and enable future mobility impacts due to environmental-rights breaches.

Human mobility is a positive process that has taken place for more than 2,000 years, and because of significant environmental challenges and continuous presence of conflict, it will continue to increase in the future. States should not be surprised by the increasing number of migrants, but instead start regulating mobility taking into account environmental components with a strong rights-based approach, in a preventive mode to assure that basic rights are respected, including that to a clean environment, migrants rights, and human rights.

Cosmin Corendea: Migration, Human Rights and Climate Change in the Pacific.

New project supports climate adaptation and resilience for Pacific Islands

New project supports climate adaptation and resilience for Pacific Islands

By Will Bugler

Fifteen Pacific island countries are part of the newly launched Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change and Resilience Building (PACRES) project under the Intra-African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) Programme funded by the 11th European Development Fund’s (EDF). The EUR 12 million project aims to strengthen adaptation and mitigation measures at the national and regional level and support partner countries in climate negotiations and in implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Jointly implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the Pacific Community, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and the University of the South Pacific, the project will also have a disaster resilience component. Some of the activities of the project, according to SPREP, include knowledge sharing, strengthening of networks, and trainings and research opportunities.

An inception and planning meeting for the project was held from 1-3 April 2019 at the SPREP Campus in Samoa.

The Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu participate in the project.


Photo Credit: Gemma Longman

Unpacking transformation: A framework and insights from adaptation mainstreaming

Unpacking transformation: A framework and insights from adaptation mainstreaming

As the impacts of climate change become increasingly severe, there is mounting evidence that successful adaptation requires transformational changes to social, human, physical, financial, and political systems. 

Despite this, there is no consensus on what constitutes ‘transformational change’, nor how it can best be achieved. A new paper released by the Action on Climate Today (ACT) programme, addresses this by providing evidence of transformational change from its work in South Asia.

The paper “Unpacking transformation: A framework and insights from adaptation mainstreaming” draws on five case studies from South Asia and demonstrates the ways in which technical assistance programmes on adaptation can support and facilitate transformational change. 

Designed for development and climate practitioners, the paper also provides a conceptual framework for assessing progress towards transformational change in adaptation. 

ACT is a is a £23 million UK government-funded regional programme that has been supporting national and sub-national governments in five South Asian countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan.  

Even under the most ambitious climate scenarios, the consequences of climate change and its impacts will be severe.1 Storms, heatwaves and flood events are all expected to increase in frequency and intensity, and seal level rise will put coastal settlements at risk. Countries in South Asia are especially vulnerable, and the scale of ambition on climate change resilience building must increase to ensure they are able to meet their development objectives. Given the scale of the challenge, it has become clear that applying piecemeal adaptation measures will be insufficient: there is a need for transformative change. 

However, despite the realisation that transformative change of social, human, physical, financial, and political systems is required, there is little consensus about how to achieve it. To address this the Action on Climate Today (ACT) programme, has released a new learning paper, that addresses this by providing evidence of transformational change from its work in South Asia.  

The paper, titled, “Unpacking transformation: A framework and insights from adaptation mainstreaming”, provides a conceptual framework for assessing progress towards transformational change in adaptation. It consists of three components:  

  1. Transformational characteristics – the indicators of transformational change; 
  2. Transformational domains – the route by which transformational change is achieved; and  
  3. The enabling environment – the factors that predate and support transformational change.  

The framework can be used by practitioners and policy-makers to understand, strengthen and monitor the likelihood of transformational change in adaptation. 

ACT is a £23 million UK government-funded regional programme managed by Oxford Policy Management (OPM) in collaboration with many consortium partners. It has been working since 2014 in partnership with national and sub-national governments of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan to assist the integration of climate adaptation into development policies and actions while transforming systems of planning and delivery, including leveraging additional finance. 


The full ACT learning paper “Unpacking transformation: A framework and insights from adaptation mainstreaming” and a learning brief can be accessed by clicking here.  

A 60-second audio abstract can be accessed here:  
Action on Climate Today (ACT) is an initiative funded with UK aid from the UK government and managed by Oxford Policy Management (OPM). 
Key Contacts 

Cover photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash.
Climate action needs to be inclusive of women’s diverse voices

Climate action needs to be inclusive of women’s diverse voices

By Elisa Jiménez Alonso

Structural and cultural discrimination of women make them more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, however, they also lack systematic representation as decision makers. Gender equality is essential for transformational climate action, thus the involvement of women in it is key.

Women are disproportionately affected by climate change impacts in a number of ways. For example, a study from 2007 showed that the socially constructed gender-specific vulnerability of women that is built into everyday socio-economic patterns led to higher mortality during and after disasters compared to men. Surviving extreme weather events can leave women with a lack of resources to rebuild their lives, this can range from a lack of legal assets to not having rights to property. The less extreme day-to-day struggles of having to collect water or food also come with their own set of gendered challenges as women often get threatened and abused.

Framing climate change as a human rights imperative, a global security threat, and a pervasive economic strain, a Georgetown University study from 2015 looked specifically at the gendered dimensions of climate impacts and how women systematically suffer more severe health, economic, social, and physical consequences. The report also recognised women as critical agents of change who provide both creative and localised solutions for climate mitigation and adaptation, but who are, at the same time, systematically excluded from decision-making processes.

The UNFCCC is trying to counteract this systematic exclusion through a number of measures like, for example, the Gender Action Plan (GAP). Established at COP23, the GAP recognises that “there  is  a  need  for  women  to  be  represented  in  all  aspects  of  the  Convention  process  and  a  need  for  gender  mainstreaming  through  all  relevant  targets  and goals in activities under the Convention as an important contribution to increasing their effectiveness.” The Paris Agreement also mentions the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment several times calling, for example, for gender-responsive adaptation and capacity building. Increasing women’s participation at the political level results in greater responsiveness to citizen’s needs, increasing cooperation across party and ethnic lines, and delivering more sustainable peace.

Finally, it is important to keep in mind how intersectionality adds fuel to the fire of gender inequality. Intersectionality, a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, describes the way in which institutions of oppression (sexism, racism, ableism, classism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from each other creating very unique experiences for different people. For example, a wealthy white woman and a wealthy black woman can both experience sexism, but the black woman will in all likelihood experience racism on top of that, or even gendered racism; similarly, a disabled woman encounters completely different challenges than a non-disabled woman. But also, the examples outlined further above do not apply to all women, illustrating why the representation of women in decision-making processes needs to reflect their diverse experiences making sure we are creating solutions for all, not just the few.


Cover photo by Arièle Bonte on Unsplash.
Engaging the private sector in financing adaptation to climate change: Learning from practice

Engaging the private sector in financing adaptation to climate change: Learning from practice

A new paper released by the Action on Climate Today (ACT) programme, and co-authored by Acclimatise, provides a framework to help development and climate practitioners to better engage with the private sector on climate change adaptation.

The paper, titled “Engaging the private sector in financing adaptation to climate change: Learning from practice”, provides practical advice to encourage private sector organisations and institutions to invest in climate change adaptation measures.

Stimulating flows of private finance is essential for developing countries to meet the cost of climate change adaptation which has been estimated to reach $100 billion per year to 2050.[

Authored by Acclimatise’s Virginie Fayolle and Caroline Fouvet along with Vidya Soundarajan, Vandana Nath, Sunil Acharya, Naman Gupta and Luca Petrarulo of Action on Climate Today, the paper identifies key barriers and challenges for engaging with the private sector, as well as drivers and enablers that could lead to increased investment.

The paper identifies key barriers and challenges for engaging with the private sector, as well as drivers and enablers that could lead to increased investment.

The paper draws on ACT’s experience supporting national and sub-national governments in five South Asian countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan.

Adapting to climate change is costly with recent estimates suggesting that $70 – $100 billion per year is needed between 2010 and 2050.[ Countries in South Asia are some of the most vulnerable to climate change and stretched public budgets will not be able to provide the necessary levels of finance on their own. Finance from the private sector is, therefore, essential if countries are to be prepared for climate change and its impacts. A new paper, released by the Action on Climate Today (ACT) programme, aims to help stimulate flows of private finance by providing a framework to help climate and development practitioners, and public sector institutions better engage with the private sector.

As well as stimulating flows of finance, the paper argues that public decision-makers can also benefit from leveraging the ingenuity, skills, and capacity of businesses and the wider financial sector. It also makes clear that the companies in the private sector will themselves benefit from climate cange adaptation, and will not be immune to the physical risks arising from a changing climate.

The paper, titled, “Engaging the private sector in financing adaptation to climate change: Learning from practice”, provides a framework that identifies key enablers that can be used to successfully enage private sector entities on climate change adaptation. These include; awareness raising, enhancing access to technical resources, enhancing access to finance, reforming the regulatory framework; and strengthening governance.

The framework is supported by practical examples and case studies, drawing from ACT’s experience working in partnership with ten national and sub-national governments in South Asia to assist in integrating climate change adaptation into development planning, and delivery.

The paper identifies six key considerations when engaging private sector organisations:

  1. Use real-world examples of climate imapacts that are relevant to the business in question;
  2. Build a shared vision between the public and private sector by identifying overlaps between the government’s priorities and private sector interests;
  3. Develop the capacity and expertise of private sector champions to take action by identifying and supporting industry champions;
  4. Bridge the gap between the demand and supply of private finance by bringing institutional investors together with businesses that provide investment opportunities in the real economy;
  5. Allow adequate time and resources to influence or shape the governance and regulatory framework; and
  6. Bring on board relevant technical expertise by building partnerships and collaborating with other businesses, associations, civil society organisations, government agencies, and development partners.

These strategies can help to break down the barriers preventing businesses from investing in climate change resilience.

ACT is a £23 million UK government-funded regional programme managed by Oxford Policy Management (OPM) in collaboration with many consortium partners. It has been working since 2014 in partnership with national and sub-national governments of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan to assist the integration of climate adaptation into development policies and actions while transforming systems of planning and delivery, including leveraging additional finance.


The full ACT learning paper “Engaging the private sector in financing adaptation to climate change: Learning from practice ” and a learning brief can be accessed by clicking here.

Listen to the 60-second audio abstract:

Action on Climate Today (ACT) is an initiative funded with UK aid from the UK government and managed by Oxford Policy Management (OPM).

Key Contacts


Photo credit: Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters
EO4SD Climate Resilience stakeholder & capacity building workshop

EO4SD Climate Resilience stakeholder & capacity building workshop

Colleagues from international finance institutions (IFIs) and their client states are invited to join the EO4SD Climate Resilience cluster on 13 March 2019, one day before the One Planet Summit in Nairobi: Africa’s Pledge, for a stakeholder and capacity building workshop at the ICPAC offices in Nairobi, Kenya.

The workshop aims to demonstrate the value of Earth observation data to climate-resilient development through a series of presentations, discussions, and hands-on training.

During the workshop the EO4SD Climate Resilience cluster will:

  • Provide valuable insights into how IFIs and their client states can use Earth observation data to support climate-resilient development;
  • Discuss stakeholder needs and requirements, especially with regards to projects on the African continent;
  • Provide applicable and useful information about Copernicus Sentinel data and services, which offers full, free and open access;
  • Showcase the proposed services of the EO4SD Climate Resilience cluster and how they can be used (e.g. drought monitoring, wetland monitoring, ecosystem evaluation, flooding, soil erosion, etc.);
  • Offer a training session about the EO4SD Climate Resilience platform, including downloading data, visualizing it, and creating of customized products (e.g. water quality indexes, vegetation indexes, etc.).

More information coming soon!

For additional information, please contact EO4SD Climate Resilience coordinator Dr. Carlos Doménech.

Please register by using the following link.

Strategies to influence climate resilience: Securing sustainable adaptation in South Asia

Strategies to influence climate resilience: Securing sustainable adaptation in South Asia

A new paper released by the Action on Climate Today (ACT) programme, titled, “Influencing adaptation policy: The role of policy entrepreneurs in securing ownership and climate actions in South Asia” shows how tacit and more informal approaches applied by policy entrepreneurs can help influence climate adaptation policy.

There is now a large body of evidence on technical approaches to mainstream climate change adaptation in policymaking.  Tried-and-tested interventions include, undertaking risk assessments to develop the evidence base, building capacity by training key decision makers, providing decision aids such as risk screening and climate budgeting tools. However, informal approaches to influencing policy and action on adaptation play an equally important role and need to be explicitly considered within technical assistance programmes. Informal influencing approaches consider social norms, customs or traditions that shape thought and behaviour, and an understanding of the mechanisms of local political networks.

This new Action on Climate Today (ACT) learning paperfocuses on the more tacit and informal approaches used to influence adaptation policy. The paper highlights the particular role of policy entrepreneurs who work to promote policy change. They navigate the political complexity of both formal and informal systems of governance to promote successful adaptation mainstreaming processes through brokering, advocacy, and networking to influence policy.

Building on previous policy influencing perspectives from the political science literature, the paper uses empirical examples from the ACT programme in South Asia to create a typology of influencing strategies that includes: 

  • Stories and narratives: Using simplified stories that help decision-makers make sense of complex realities, including by linking climate action to development objectives
  • Rapport and trust: Building trust in the programme and its staff and the advice being offered
  • Cheerleaders and champions: Nurturing and rewarding leaders and leadership 
  • Advocacy and networking: Harnessing and developing networks on adaptation inside and outside government
  • Downstream implementers: Influencing action on the ground by working with those who actually implement, rather than set, policy.

Applying these strategies can help others designing and providing technical assistance to support national and subnational governments to mainstream adaptation into their policies. Support programmes can factor in design elements to maximise this potential, including through the use of political economy analysis, adaptive management approaches, and explicitly designing areas of programming that allow for informal influencing processes and rapidly responding to opportunities.

ACT is a £23 million UK government-funded regional programme managed by Oxford Policy Management (OPM) in collaboration with many consortium partners. It has been working since 2014 in partnership with national and sub-national governments of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan to assist the integration of climate adaptation into development policies and actions while transforming systems of planning and delivery, including leveraging additional finance.


The full ACT learning paper “Influencing adaptation policy: The role of policy entrepreneurs in securing ownership and climate actions in South Asia” and a learning brief can be accessed by clicking here.

Listen to the 60-second audio abstract:

ACT (Action on Climate Today) is an initiative funded with UK aid from the UK government and managed by Oxford Policy Management (OPM).

Key Contacts

Photo by Jacek Reszko on Unsplash
UNDP: ‘Climate change is pushing Africa to a tipping point, threatening economic and development gains’

UNDP: ‘Climate change is pushing Africa to a tipping point, threatening economic and development gains’

UNDP launches report at Poland climate talks calling on nations and world leaders to accelerate and mainstream climate actions across Africa to meet Paris Agreement targets.

Climate change threatens a decade of strong economic growth and social gains across Africa, according to a new report launched today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The report was launched in coordination with the Africa Adaptation Initiative at this year’s climate talks in Poland, which have brought leaders from across the globe to build momentum to reach the goals outlined in the historic Paris Agreement.

“Africa is at a tipping point. Nations across the continent have achieved impressive economic, political and social growth in recent decades. Yet, there are still high disparities between the rich and poor. Poverty, while reduced, remains a serious issue in many countries. And climate change, droughts, floods, changing rainfall patterns and conflict have the potential to unravel efforts to reduce hunger and achieve the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary-General and Director, UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa.

The report looks at case studies from national climate change adaptation efforts supported by UNDP across Africa for the last 15 years with the financial backing of donor bodies such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

“Least developed countries in Africa are among the most vulnerable to climate change, yet the least able to adapt. In many cases, they lack the technical, financial and institutional capacity to identify the best ways to build resilience,” said Gustavo Fonseca, Director of Programs, Global Environment Facility.  “With around US$1.3 billion of voluntary contributions from donors, the Global Environment Facility Least Developed Countries Fund (GEF-LDCF) holds the largest portfolio of adaptation projects in the Least Developed Countries.  The majority of that funding goes to Africa, where most LDCs are located.”

While initial climate change adaptation initiatives show good potential for economic viability, livelihood enhancement and vulnerability reduction in Africa, the report finds long-term sustainability will depend on the prevailing levels of poverty, the wider context of policies and regulations, access to markets and financial services, as well as government capacity to provide continuous technical support to communities.

“Make no doubt about it, climate change is one of the largest risk multipliers for the people, environment and stability of the continent,” Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Secretary-General and Director, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support. “In our global economy, these risks need to be addressed urgently with transformative climate investments that will mainstream and accelerate pilot climate actions to create real, lasting impact for the millions of people across the continent whose lives and livelihoods are at risk.”

Tipping points

If the world is not able to reach global targets to keep temperature rise below 2 degrees, the nations of Africa could reach a “tipping point,” according to the report authors, where exponentially increased challenges and threats would arise from higher temperatures.

These tipping points have the potential to create new famines and undermine global efforts to end poverty and hunger by 2030. In turn, high levels of poverty and low levels of human development limit the capacity of poor people to manage climate risks, according to the report, placing further stress on already overstretched coping mechanisms that will perpetuate poverty traps.

Taken together, this raises the potential for an increase in eco-migrants, more catastrophic disease outbreaks (such as the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which took over 10,000 lives), and increased instability.

For the first time in over a decade, world hunger is on the rise, affecting 11 percent of the global population, according to recent estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). In 2017, crop destruction from the Fall Armyworm, strong droughts induced by an abnormally strong El Niño cycle, and a rise in conflict in places such as Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan, were the chief culprits in a serious rise in food insecurity. At the peak of the El Niño crisis from 2014 to 2016, some 40 million people in Africa required emergency assistance. This number dropped to around 26 million in 2017, according to the report.

“Taking reactive approaches to food security and disaster recovery costs the people of Africa billions of dollars in lost GDP, and syphons off government resources that should be dedicated to education, social programmes, healthcare, business development and employment,” said Eziakonwa.

The true costs of adaptation

According to the report, recent studies indicate it is likely the true costs of adaptation will be substantially higher than originally projected, and will require creative financial mechanisms and substantial engagement with the private sector to meet.

“Taken from a global level, this means that leaders need to make good on the US$100 billion promise for climate finance, but will also need to engage the private sector, and think about creative financial modalities like blended finance and green bonds to fill this gap,” said Eziakonwa.

“Building resilience for vulnerable communities cannot be an afterthought. For Africa to succeed in reaching the bold commitments outlined in the Paris Agreement and other international accords, its leaders will need to step up efforts to protect its forests, scale up the renewable energy revolution, transform agricultural production, and build climate-smart cities and infrastructure,” said Eziakonwa.

Smart investments

According to the report’s case studies, there have been a number of noteworthy successes in climate change adaptation in Africa over the past decade, and recent adaptation programming has increasingly focused on larger and more programmatic initiatives that address multiple sectoral entry points and makes better use of partnerships.

The case studies indicate progress across a number of signature deliverables outlined in UNDP’s new four-year Strategic Plan.

  • UNDP-supported projects improved food security in places like Benin, Mali, Niger and Sudan.
  • Farmers across the continent acquired climate resilient seeds and farming techniques to improve productivity and protect against changing climate conditions.
  • National governments improved climate information and early warning systems to save lives from fast-acting storms and improve evidence-based decision making
  • Communities built new protections from natural disasters such as wildfires and sea-level rise
  •  Projects empowered women to be more effective agents of climate action
  • Salaries increased, productivity jumped and new jobs were created on and off the farm.
  • Local and national governments created unique measures to set the enabling environments needed to achieve Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement with specialized support to build medium- and long-term plans for climate change through joint programmes with FAO and UN Environment.

Accelerating toward Paris

Building on the lessons learned from over a decade pioneering adaptation in Africa, a new generation of climate change adaptation initiatives are coming on board with support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the chief global fund established to service the Paris Agreement, as well as other vertical funds, multilateral development banks and bilateral donors.

GCF-financed climate change adaptation projects supported through the UNDP are now underway in the sub-Saharan African region in Malawi, Uganda and Zambia. To support UNDP’s signature solution for effective, inclusive and accountable governance, GCF-financed National Adaptation Plans projects were recently approved for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Niger.

“Under this vision for mainstreamed and accelerated climate actions across the continent, UNDP is working as a broker to connect the United Nations Development System to improve baseline resilience to climate variability,” said Eziakonwa. “This will require transformational system-wide changes across the UN system, governments, the private sector and society as a whole. It’s a monumental task that requires people from across the globe to come together to rise to the monumental challenges presented by climate change.”


Extended Resources

For additional information, please contact Lamine Bal at lamine.bal@undp.org

UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in nearly 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations. www.undp.org

Cover photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash: Cassava farmer with her baby on her back, Sierra Leone.