Category: Features

Water is a growing source of global conflict. Here’s what we need to do

Water is a growing source of global conflict. Here’s what we need to do

By Kitty Van Der Heijden and Callie Stinson

The most intensive drought ever recorded in Syria lasted from 2006 to 2011. Water scarcity hit households, businesses and infrastructure, while in the countryside crops failed, livestock died, and entire families moved to the country’s cities. The subsequent eruption of civil war in 2011 led to as many as half a million deaths, as well as massive migration flows to neighbouring countries and beyond, and untold misery. Syria’s war has been a tragic illustration of the central, driving role that water insecurity can play in instability and conflict.

This is no surprise. In 2017 alone, water was a major factor in conflict in at least 45 countries, including Syria. Its importance as a resource means that water-related insecurity can easily exacerbate tensions and friction within and between countries. It can be weaponized; nefarious actors can gain control of, destroy, or redirect access to water to meet their objectives by targeting infrastructure and supplies. Advancements in cyber attacks on critical infrastructure raise further concerns as to the security of water systems.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report (GRR) has listed water crises among the top-five risks in terms of impact for eight consecutive years. In the most recent version of the report, it remains nested among a cluster of other risks that are rated as having both a very high likelihood and a very high impact. These include extreme weather events, natural disasters, the failure of climate change adaptation and mitigation, man-made environmental disasters, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, interstate conflict and large scale-involuntary migration.

These risks are increasingly interconnected. Failure to mitigate climate change could lead to more extreme weather events, ecosystem collapse and a greater likelihood of man-made environmental disasters. All of these can exacerbate food and water insecurity, which in turn can lead to human deprivation, and could make these and other risks like migration and conflict more likely in a negative feedback loop. Around two thirds of the world’s population, or 4 billion people, currently live without sufficient access to fresh water for at least one month of the year.

Further complicating the picture is the reality that securing water for food and economic activity will only become more difficult over time. As economies develop, their water consumption patterns shift and overall demand rises dramatically to meet the needs of food production, thirsty manufacturing and other industries, thermal power plants and households. However, water supplies are often damaged by poor management, pollution and over-consumption, in addition to supply-side reductions due to climate change impacts and the ecosystem degradation mentioned above.

Many of these drivers of insecurity can be seen in the Inner Niger Delta area of Mali, a marshy wetlands along a stretch of the Niger river. Disruptions to the Delta’s waters, for instance through the construction of two upstream dams, risk destroying fragile ecosystems and further destabilizing the entire region. Altering downstream flows can jeopardize traditional economic activities that underpin the viability of Delta fishing villages, destroying livelihoods and exacerbating social tensions such as intergenerational friction.

Combined with reductions in available farmland associated with rising temperatures and desertification, such environmental degradation risks further fuelling mass migration to the Malian capital Bamako and Europe. The journey is not a safe one, with criminalised trafficking routes that pass nearby between the West African coast and the Sahara. The history of radicalization in the region by extremist groups that have established themselves in northern Mali further illustrates the vulnerabilities facing the displaced and disenfranchised. People whose access to water is limited risk becoming increasingly marginalized, and a target for recruitment by radical groups. Water is critical to the region’s security.

The Inner Niger Delta illustrates the critical role that water insecurity can play in exacerbating other risks, and the necessity of holistic policy approaches. Unfortunately, water insecurity is not yet taken seriously enough by all actors, despite its central role in our economies and in human lives and livelihoods. In most scenarios, the true security threat caused by water insecurity is not a ‘water war’, but rather in its secondary impact on associated human security, that which can then exacerbate local, regional and international security threats.

It can impede or reverse economic development, and prevent countries from playing their art in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It can also affect the private sector, for instance by affecting critical parts of complex supply chains. Robust solutions to the water security challenge are critical for everybody from public policymakers and businesses to the wider public and the international community. A new generation of public-private partnerships can be part of the solution to such complex and interrelated risks, responding with urgency and innovation to manage the ‘less for more’ challenge of reduced supply and increased demand.

Advances in technology can play an important role in this new era of collaboration. Real-time data is already being used to generate insights about the interplay of risk factors, allowing the development of sophisticated early-warning tools. The Water, Peace and Security Partnership partnership, for instance, crunches vast amounts of data, using machine-learning and other technologies to identify patterns that indicate the high risk of a conflict situation developing. It does not simply flash a warning light, but points to the factors that need to be addressed through capacity-building and stakeholder engagement to mitigate any potential conflict.

The tool, presented to the UN’s Security Council in 2018, aims to build cohesion for collective action among diplomats, defence analysts, development and humanitarian experts and environmental scientists. Another partnership, Digital Earth Africa, is developing an open-access platform of analysis-ready geospatial data for public use that will enable African nations to track environmental changes across the continent in unprecedented detail, including flooding, droughts, soil and coastal erosion, agriculture, forest and land-use change, water availability and quality, and changes to human settlements.

Such insights can help governments, businesses and communities better understand and address the interconnected web of environmental risks, in particular the impacts of climate change. From variations in rainfall patterns to extended periods of extreme weather events, building resilience across agricultural, industrial and domestic water supplies is a key priority for increasing water security.

The complex challenges and impacts of water crises will certainly make it difficult to shift from the top of future global risk lists. But real progress can be made, especially through cross-sectoral partnerships and platforms that can engage with such complexity. The 2030 Water Resources Group, which works across a network of more than 600 partners to tackle the water supply-demand gap in 14 different geographies, is a promising blueprint for effective public-private cooperation.

Access to better data can bolster such collaborations and lead to more effective solutions, for instance through mapping water risk, and generating greater understanding of how physical water shortages affect societal tensions, political disruptions and cross-border migration. These are just a few examples of how the world is already developing the types of ‘next generation’ insights, tools and partnerships needed to tackle water insecurity. But what the Global Risk Report makes clear is that any solution needs to be underpinned by an increased awareness of the scale and interconnectedness of the water security challenge before us.


This article was originally published on World Economic Forum.
Cover photo by Ibrahim Rifath on Unsplash.
PRI makes TCFD-style climate disclosures mandatory in 2020 reporting cycle

PRI makes TCFD-style climate disclosures mandatory in 2020 reporting cycle

By Robin Hamaker-Taylor

In February 2019, the Principles for Responsible Investing (PRI) initiative, announced it will make several of its climate risk indicators mandatory for PRI signatories. PRI requires signatories to annually report various environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics via the PRI reporting tool. In 2018, 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.  

Which indicators will be mandatory?

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.

PRI may require further climate risk reporting in the future

PRI currently has over 2,300 signatories, includingasset owners, investment managers, and service providers that collectively manage over $83 trillion in assets. This change in their reporting framework will greatly increase the amount of climate-related reporting within in its framework by signatories. This move also indicates the direction of travel regarding reporting on climate risks: the PRI has indicated that the remaining PRI climate risk indicators will stay voluntary with a view to becoming mandatory as good practice develops.

The climate change indicators of the overall Reporting Framework can be found here [pdf].

What is the PRI?

The PRI is a non-profit independent organisation that works to understand the investment implications of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. The PRI supports its international network of investor signatories in incorporating these factors into their investment and ownership decisions. The organisation acts in the long-term interests of its signatories, of the financial markets and economies in which they operate and ultimately of the environment and society as a whole.

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


Photo by Sean Pollock on Unsplash

Comparing existing tools for assessing physical climate risks in the finance sector: Recent outputs from the ClimINVEST Research Project

Comparing existing tools for assessing physical climate risks in the finance sector: Recent outputs from the ClimINVEST Research Project

By Laura Canevari

Understanding the implications of physical climate risk to financial institutions is a complex challenge. The ClimINVEST initiative aims to facilitate improved financial decision-making in the face of climate change by offering tailored indicators, tools and maps for financial institutions. As part of the project, the Institute for Climate Economics (I4CE) has undertaken a useful review of existing tools and approaches, that can assist financial actors assessing their own physical climate risks.  

Physical climate impacts can increase risk for the financial sector and the economy in several ways. However, the translation from physical risk to financial impacts is not always straightforward. As noted in I4CE’s review, very few service providers have developed approaches to analyse how climate risks can impact counterparties’ financial statements (e.g. in their balance sheets and profit and loss calculations) and how they affect the operation of financial activities. The review therefore focusses on assessing the functions, target uses and outputs of the tools currently available in the market, including those developed by Acclimatise and other service providers. The review summarises several key differences.

Firstly, the target use and target users for each approach differ: from those designed to be used as pre-screening tools by project managers to those carrying more comprehensive assessments target to risk managers. Similarly, the level of analysis also varies, from tools focusing on risks at the project level, to those operating at counterparties level, upstream/downstream value chains, on sovereign counterparties; or even incorporating the larger socio-economic environment. Equally, the methodologies incorporated in the tools can tackle the assessment of different types of impacts, with some focusing only on economic impacts and others also incorporating an assessment of financial implications.

Another important difference found between the tools is their use of climate change scenarios, and the sources of information these scenarios build on. Some of the tools have built their scenarios using trend analysis and thus are based on past and observed weather records. Contrastingly, other tools use an exploratory approach, based on either IPCC data or outputs from Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs). Generally, the time horizon chosen determines the type of climate scenario used: It is common, for example, to find the use of trend analysis on short term horizons, whilst long term analyses tend to be more exploratory in nature.

The tools reviewed in the report also differ in their mechanisms to deal with uncertainty. In some cases, the approaches developed have dealt with uncertainty by considering the worst-case future climate scenario (a conservative approach); others have used multi-model approaches for climate projections. In the case of the Acclimatise Aware tool, the Global Climate Model agreement was used as indicator for uncertainty; this indicator is then integrated when weighting the exposure to location- specific climate hazard data.

Output formats provided by the different tools and approaches were also found to be very diverse, ranging from qualitative analysis using scoring systems, to quantitative assessments providing financial estimates. Results are also aggregated differently by each instrument: they can be aggregated according, to scenario, type of impact, time horizon, counterparty, or hazard type.

Key conclusions and remarks

Whilst service providers are developing sophisticated methodologies to help financial actors assess physical climate risks, they still face barriers to exploit their full potential. Data availability remains an important challenge, especially access to data on corporate counterparties. Information is still needed at macro and sectoral scales in order to better characterise financial implications caused by changing business environments; but it is also needed at the counterparty or asset scale in order to define exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity to a diverse range of climate impacts.

There is no “one-size-fits all” approach, and financial actors will have to choose what type of tool is better suited to their assessments needs and which can be better integrated into their existing risk management approaches. Existing tools can nonetheless be further refined to better fit user needs and new approaches can also be developed to match emerging assessment and disclosure demands. Close collaboration between financial actors and service providers will be a key factor determining the successful refinement and application of tools and approaches. Acclimatise, will continue to work closely with financial institutions in order to keep advancing the development of suitable tools and approaches able to support financial actors identifying and dealing with physical climate risks.


Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

Bank of England Governor indicates new climate risk rules are imminent

Bank of England Governor indicates new climate risk rules are imminent

By Robin Hamaker-Taylor

On 21st March, 2019, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney gave a speech at the European Commission High-Level Conference in Brussels, where he indicated that new rules from the UK’s financial regulators on climate risk are imminent.

Carney’s speech gives several indications as to the content of the upcoming PRA supervisory statement (SS) on banks’ and insurers’ approaches to managing the financial risks from climate change. The PRA’s SS will apply to banks, insurers and investment firms and will set out the PRA’s expectations regarding firms’ approaches to managing the financial risks from climate change, including with respect to: 

  • Governance, where firms will be expected to embed fully the consideration of climate risks into governance frameworks, including at board level, and assign responsibility for oversight of these risks to specific senior role holders;
  • Risk management, where firms will need to consider climate change in line with their board-approved risk appetites;
  • The regular use of scenario analysis to test strategic resilience; and
  • Developing and maintaining an appropriate disclosure of climate risks.

There have been important advances in both the supply and demand for climate reporting following the release of the final TCFD recommendations in 2017; support from both finance actors and companies has been resounding. Yet actual action on disclosure is lacking. According to Carney, financial implications are often not yet disclosed, and where they are, they are made in multiple reports making comparisons harder. Disclosures also vary considerably by industry and region.

Carney set out a vision for climate disclosure and made the case for regulatory action relating to it, stating that “in the future, disclosure will move into the mainstream, and it is reasonable to expect that more authorities will mandate it.” The role of financial regulators was delineated as well, suggesting that it is not their role to drive the transition to a low-carbon and resilient economy. Instead, financial regulators such as the PRA need to smooth the flow of investment into green technologies and encourage firms to plan over longer time horizons than normal; they ultimately operate within the climate policy frameworks that governments set.

A call was made for financial institutions to take a more strategic approach to climate, which Carney suggested requires scenario analysis; firms will need to consider scenario analysis as part of their assessments of the impact of climate risks on their balance sheet and broader business strategy. Specifically, Carney suggested scenarios should be:

  • Comprehensive, rigorous and challenging;
  • Transparent: the assumptions and methodologies in the models – such as the assumed global temperature rise, the energy mix, or whether the transition happens smoothly or abruptly – should allow for comparisons and external challenge; and  
  • Scenarios should be implemented consistently across the business, linking identification of risks and opportunities to both strategy and disclosure.

Scenario developments will be assisted by the PRA and FCA joint Climate Financial Risk Forum, which will work with industry to review tools and metrics, for the publication of reference scenarios and standard assumptions.

Finally, Carney explains that supervisors will require climate-related stress testing that links ‘high-level data-driven narratives on the evolution of physical and transition risks to quantitative metrics to measure the impact on the financial system.’ In conducting these stress tests, financial institutions would aim to:

  • Consider whether, across the financial system, financing flows are consistent with an orderly transition to the climate outcome set out in the Paris agreement. These long-term scenarios can facilitate discussions between firms and their clients about possible risks across different sectors and geographies; and
  • Consider whether the financial system would be resilient to shorter-term shocks – including a climate “Minsky moment” when climate risks materialise suddenly. 

The Bank of England will also work closely with colleagues in the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) to develop a small number of high-level scenarios. Following the issuance of the draft supervisory statement and subsequent consultation in October 2018-January 2019, the final supervisory statement will be released in mid-April 2019.


Cover photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash.

Oxfam director Winnie Byanyima: Climate change is harming women around the world

Oxfam director Winnie Byanyima: Climate change is harming women around the world

By Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media

March 8th is International Women’s Day, a time to reflect on how women are helping their communities overcome enormous challenges.

Byanyima: “Where I come from in Uganda, we are seeing the impacts of climate change already … droughts, flooding, droughts, flooding, farmers lose their crops.”

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, says the effects of climate change often hit women the hardest. That’s because in many places, women are the ones responsible for farming and providing food for their families, frequently without much money.

But rather than talking about women as victims of climate change …

Byanyima: “I prefer to talk about women as providers of solutions to climate change.”

She says in many places, women collaborate and support one another as they adapt to more extreme weather.

Byanyima: “You see women forming communities to farm together, to lend each other money, adapting their farming methods or fishing methods, looking for ways to survive the impact of climate change, so I call them the climate heroes.”

This article was originally published on Yale Climate Connections.
Photo credit: UN Women / Flikr.
Resilience planning can uncover investment opportunities at the city level

Resilience planning can uncover investment opportunities at the city level

By Will Bugler

Unlocking investment for new infrastructure is vital for municipal governments to ensure climate-resilient urban development.

Despite this, countries in Asia are faced with a huge infrastructure investment gap. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates that countries in Asia and the Pacific will need to commit over $26 trillion for infrastructure spending by 2030 if the region hopes to sustain growth while meeting the combined challenges of poverty reduction and climate change. [1] However, the principal brake on investment is not lack of funding, or a lack of will from large investors, but a lack of identifiable, bankable projects at the city level.

To address this, cities are in need of support to develop robust, integrated, and climate-responsive infrastructure plans. Investing in a resilience approach to urban planning can support municipal governments to develop such plans and unlock a multitrillion-dollar urban investment opportunity.

Traditional approaches to infrastructure planning, led by national governments and which prioritizes infrastructure investments based on national planning, have not been successful in identifying good quality, infrastructure investments at the city level. A recent report from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and the World Bank identifies several reasons why such ‘top-down’ planning approaches have been unsuccessful, and challenges the myth that cities in the developing countries “just need access to global capital markets” to invest in resilience. Three of the most significant challenges identified in the report were:

  1. Lack of government capacity – Chief amongst areas of capacity deficit identified were: (i) the inability to plan and implement resilience investments; (ii) an inability to generate sufficient revenue to meet existing obligations and maintain ongoing programs; and, (iii) general challenges to infrastructure development.
  2. Lack of private sector confidence – The report found this to be driven by governance constraints (financial regulations and complexity, the policy environment including corruption, political uncertainty, and absence of financeable proposals) as well as lack of data and standards to benchmark asset performance.
  3. Challenges in project preparation – The report found that governments had limited experience with project identification and preparation and limited resources to commit to project preparation. This means that the pipeline of well-developed, financeable urban infrastructure and resilience projects offered to investors is limited.
     

There is some evidence to suggest that resilience approaches to urban planning can go some way to addressing these issues. Work under an ongoing ADB trust fund provides support to city-level resilience planning methods that aim to deliver better-quality infrastructure and uncover more bankable infrastructure projects in cities across Asia.

The Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF) under the Urban Financing Partnership Facility administered by ADB, with contributions from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Governments of Switzerland and United Kingdom, is working in at least 25 cities in 8 countries in Asia to embed resilience into ADB’s investments. The fund is a significant testing ground for resilience approaches to urban planning, as it aims to link $150 million of funding to over $1 billion of ADB loans.

Resilience planning for urban development

To date, UCCRTF has approved over $100 million in projects that support climate-resilient urban development, and a significant proportion of this funding has gone to upstream support to urban planning at the city level. The trust fund has begun to address many of the challenges for developing a pipeline of investable infrastructure assets beginning in the early stages of urban planning.

Identifying suitable infrastructure developments and projects, based on good quality urban plans, requires effective, long-term town-planning and climate vulnerability assessments based on good quality local data. This is no small barrier for Asian cities, especially the thousands of smaller cities with limited municipal budgets. One statistic that demonstrates the stark reality of the capacity deficit in city planning is the number of qualified urban planners – in the United Kingdom there are 38 per 100,000 population; in India there are 0.23.

The lack of planning at the local level means decisions over new infrastructure for cities are often decided at the national level. This top-down approach tends to favor larger physical infrastructure investments, and risks being influenced by the prevailing political climate at the time.

The UCCRTF approach to project identification and prioritization fundamentally shifts the emphasis of urban infrastructure planning from the domain of national governments to city-level decision makers and the citizens themselves. The diagram below shows the four stages of UCCRTF planning. It establishes a systems-centered approach that emphasizes local-level agency, stakeholder engagement, and knowledge and capacity building as central parts of ADB’s infrastructure investment processes.

Phases_Planning_Diagram.png
Phases of urban climate change resilience (UCCR) planning supported by UCCRTF activities.

Introducing a systems-centered approach in Bangladesh
 

In Bangladesh, the UCCRTF approach was piloted in seven towns. The ADB project officer secured funding from UCCRTF to support the towns of Bagerhat, Cox’s Bazaar, Faridpur, Gopalganj, Kushtia Myenmensingh, and Patuakhali to prepare climate-resilient integrated urban plans. A team of consultants prepared climate risk and vulnerability assessments (CRVA) for the towns to determine the problems faced due to changes in climate. 

The analysis included climate modeling information on the cities, combined with city-level data on disasters. Socioeconomic information was also incorporated in order to target interventions for the poor and vulnerable. Local knowledge on historical disasters was gathered through focus group discussions with the local residents.

The resulting CRVAs were then used to guide the preparation of climate-resilient integrated urban plans (CRUIPs) and the formulation of actionable priorities for implementation in the next five years.

The CRIUPs, developed for five cities (Cox’s Bazaar, Faridpur, Gopalganj, Kushtia, and Myenmensingh) through the UCCRTF technical assistance were carried forward into an ADB loan project, and provided reference for the identification of priority investments.

For Bagerhat and Patuakhali, the UCCRTF provided additional financing of $6 million for the construction of cyclone shelters, drainage, emergency access roads, and the preparation of an integrated drainage plan and a fecal and solid waste management plan. These interventions were also identified through the CRUIP process.

Promoting resilience in Pakistan
 

The resilience planning approach was also applied in Pakistan, particularly for the two regions of Greater Abbottabad and Greater Peshawar, and for three cities: Abbottabad, Mardan, and Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

Here, the CRVAs combined two approaches, the top-down approach with climate risk assessments through climate modeling and the bottom-up approach with vulnerability assessments of vulnerable areas and communities through focus group discussions. In addition, guidelines for mainstreaming climate risks and vulnerability assessments into regional integrated urban plans and city development plans (CDPs) were also prepared.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, cities were supported to integrate the assessments into their outline CDPs and project prefeasibility studies. This formed part of the evidence base for final CDPs and the identification of suitable investments.

UCCRTF supported the identification of climate-resilient urban infrastructure and recommended innovative climate resilience measures and technologies for the engineering designs of proposed projects. Furthermore, it supported institutional capacity building on climate resilience at the municipal level.

One statistic that demonstrates the stark reality of the capacity deficit in city planning is the number of qualified urban planners – in the United Kingdom there are 38 per 100,000 population; in India there are 0.23.

A new approach

UCCRTF’s approach breaks with traditional processes in several important ways. Firstly, being positioned within ADB, project officers can tap UCCRTF support for a host of ‘soft’ resilience-building measures such as capacity building, training, and peer learning at the city level. Investment in soft measures that boost the urban planning capabilities at the city level will help to increase the quality and quantity of bankable infrastructure investment opportunities.

Secondly, the process by which the UCCRTF develops the climate assessments, urban plans, and infrastructure prioritization is characterized as ‘iterative-inclusiveness’. This involves understanding urban climate vulnerability and infrastructure needs through a thorough stakeholder engagement process that goes well beyond consultation. This entails many workshops and meetings with representatives from local communities, the private sector, and government at the municipal, regional, and national level.

While still in its early stages, the UCCRTF process is beginning to show its value. In particular the resilience approach has been effective in: 

  1. improving city-level environment and climate data;
  2. improving the quality of urban plans;
  3. identifying investable infrastructure opportunities; and
  4. providing a robust evidence base for project developers.

The UCCRTF approach to urban resilience planning has the potential to transform the way multilateral development banks and other institutional investors identify and prioritize urban infrastructure investments. Embedding resilience principles into the project planning phases may help to find bankable investment opportunities that contribute to creating livable, resilient cities.


Cover photo by FancyCrave on Unsplash.
Bringing adaptive management to life: Insights from practice

Bringing adaptive management to life: Insights from practice

Programmes that deal with complex, multi-faceted problems such as adapting to climate change must be flexible enough to adapt to changing realities. A new paper released by the Action on Climate Today (ACT) programme, provides insights into an ‘adaptive management’ approach which can help such programmes stay on track when circumstances change. 

The paper, “Bringing adaptive management to life: Insights from practice”, provides an overview of what constitutes ‘adaptive management’ and why it is important. It also reflects on some of the major lessons learned on the challenges and opportunities of using an adaptive programme management approach to support governments to adapt to climate change. 

Aimed at development and climate change practitioners, but with useful insights for anyone who manages complex programmes, the paper provides a framework for an adaptive programme, including the essential core principles and required resources. 

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

Multi-year programmes that support efforts to build resilience to climate change must be flexible enough to deal with changing conditions. Changing political realities, social conditions, limited climate information and data, and other factors can sometimes require fundamental shifts in programme approaches mid-way through delivery. To cope with this, some programmes use an adaptive management approach.  

The Action on Climate Today (ACT) programme, a multi-year, UK-government funded programme that builds climate resilience in five South Asian countries, adopted an adaptive management approach from its conception. Now at its end, the ACT programme has released a new learning paper that shares the lessons and insights about some of the challenges of applying adaptive programme management principles, and how to overcome these. 

The paper, “Bringing adaptive management to life: Insights from practice, explains how adaptive programmes can provide the flexibility, that allows those delivering technical assistance to support governments to experiment with different entry-points for adaptation, and learn and adapt from successes and failures. It also sets out a framework for an adaptive programme, including a set of essential core principles:  

  1. An evolving Theory of Change;  
  2. Locally-led and politically savvy delivery approach;  
  3. Experimentation and learning; and  
  4. Stakeholder alignment.  

It also includes two sets of essential resources required for adaptive management approaches to be successful: management flexibility and the availability of adequate finances. The paper draws on ACT’s extensive experience to provide illustrative examples of the challenges ACT faced in operationalizing this framework and how the programme overcame them. 

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. 

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 Kyran Low on Unsplash.
How empowering women and girls can help stop global warming

How empowering women and girls can help stop global warming

If we really want to address climate change, we need to make gender equity a reality, says writer and environmentalist Katharine Wilkinson. As part of Project Drawdown, Wilkinson has helped scour humanity’s wisdom for solutions to draw down heat-trapping, climate-changing emissions: obvious things like renewable energy and sustainable diets and not so obvious ones, like the education and empowerment of women. In this informative, bold talk, she shares three key ways that equity for women and girls can help stop global warming.


Cover photo by Adrien Taylor on Unsplash.
‘Mothers of Innovation’ podcast brings forward positive stories of climate action and the women behind them

‘Mothers of Innovation’ podcast brings forward positive stories of climate action and the women behind them

            Former Irish President Mary Robinson and comedian Maeve Higgins believe that climate change is a man-made problem, with a feminist solution. Their podcast, Mothers of Innovations, features women from around the world driving powerful solutions to climate change.

            The newly-released season two features stories of climate actions stemming from grassroots to the court room and tackles complex topics such as climate justice, migration, indigenous resilience, fashion and more.  Together with a new expert co-host every week, the podcast gets a closer look at how new feminist leaders in U.S. politics are influencing climate justice, while continuing to unearth stories of ingenuity across the Global South.

Listen to Season 2 Episode 1: Nothing Happens Unless you Press the Button by clicking here.


Cover photo by Trocaire/Wikimedia (CC by 2.0) / Mary Robinson with Trocaire staff with mothers and children who are attending the Trócaire’s Dollow Health Centre, Dollow, Somalia
Adaptation Fund Receives New Record Numbers in Funding Requested and Project Proposals for 33rd Board Meeting

Adaptation Fund Receives New Record Numbers in Funding Requested and Project Proposals for 33rd Board Meeting

The Adaptation Fund continues to receive urgent demand for its work, as developing countries submitted a new record US$ 268.2 million in funding requests across a record 40 proposals for review through the Fund’s implementing entities.

The project proposals were received in the latest submission period and will be reviewed at the upcoming 33rd Adaptation Fund Board meeting, to be held March 12-15 in Bonn, Germany and live webcast here.

The submissions broke the Fund’s previous records  of US$ 264 million in funds requested and proposals submitted (35) set in just its last submission period in October. Prior records were set in 2017 (33 proposals submitted) and 2016 (US$ 208.5 million in funding requested), reflecting the steady and swiftly growing demand for the Fund’s work over the last few years and the rising global urgency of adapting to climate change. 

“This record high demand is a testament to the progression and preparedness of our national implementing partners in identifying and developing needed projects, and the work that the Adaptation Fund invests in to enhance the climate finance readiness of institutions in countries,” said Victor Viñas, Chair of the Adaptation Fund Board. “It also reflects the continuing high vulnerability of the countries we serve and the pressing urgency to adapt to climate change.”

The record-breaking trends follow a highly successful COP 24 UN climate change conference for the Adaptation Fund in December, in which Parties to the Paris Agreement decided the Fund ‘shall serve’ the Agreement. The Fund also shattered its single-year resource mobilization record with US$ 129 million in new pledges received. The results recognized the Fund’s concrete, effective adaptation actions for the most vulnerable communities and pioneering Direct Access modality that empowers developing countries to access resources directly from the Fund without intermediation of international organizations.

“The Adaptation Fund had a highly successful and historical COP 24. The Fund now formally serves the Paris Agreement, and broke its previous annual resource mobilization record by US$ 35 million,” Viñas said. “This speaks to the high quality of the Fund’s work and the trust it has earned over 11 years in operations. It’s why we continue to receive record demand like this.”

The record US$ 268.2 million in new funding requests and 40 project submissions included 27 single-country project proposals (covering US$ 170.4 million) and eight regional proposals (US$ 96.8 million). Single-country proposals included eight accredited national implementing entity (NIE) proposals under Direct Access in countries including Armenia, the Dominican Republic, Tanzania and Indonesia, and one regional implementing entity (RIE) proposal by the Caribbean Development Bank in St. Lucia to build agricultural climate resilience. Another 18 multilateral implementing entity (MIE) proposals rounded out the single-country submissions. Among regional project proposals, six were from MIEs and two from RIEs.

New submissions also included five first-time proposals submitted through the Fund’s new funding windows launched during COP 24 to provide grants to scale up effective projects, share knowledge of effective actions, and accelerate innovation in adaptation. These new grant windows are available to NIEs in addition to regular funding channels. New funding window submissions include funding requests to tap into innovation, project scale-up and learning grants that foster innovation in adaptation, scaling-up of localized concrete adaptation activities and effective gathering, management and dissemination of knowledge within domestic and international climate communities to advance adaptation actions on the ground. 

“We are pleased to see the high number of project submissions and continued trust in the Adaptation Fund, and hope to reach many more vulnerable communities with high quality adaptation solutions,” said Mikko Ollikainen, Manager of the Adaptation Fund. “The Fund is well-positioned to continue to deliver concrete, effective adaptation projects. In addition, the new funding windows are part of the Fund’s Medium-Term Strategy and offer national implementing entities further avenues to implement needed actions and build country capacities to adapt to climate change.”

About the Adaptation Fund
Since 2010 the Adaptation Fund has committed US$ 532 million to 80 concrete adaptation projects in the most vulnerable communities of developing countries, serving 5.8 million direct beneficiaries. The Fund also pioneered the innovative climate finance modality Direct Access, which helps build national capacities and fosters country ownership in climate change adaptation.
This article was originally published on Adaptation Fund and is shared under a Creative Commons license.
Cover photo by William Bossen on Unsplash.