Category: Development

Climate crisis could reverse progress in achieving gender equality

Climate crisis could reverse progress in achieving gender equality

By Nitya Rao, University of East Anglia

People who directly depend on the natural world for their livelihoods, like farmers and fishers, will be among the greatest victims of the climate crisis. In vulnerable hotspots, such as the arid lands of Kenya and Ethiopia, farming communities are already struggling with droughts and water scarcity that kill their cattle and threaten their very survival. The glacial-fed river basins of the Himalayan mountains, or the deltas of Bangladesh, India and Ghana, are increasingly prone to floods, landslides and powerful cyclones.

As a result, men are often migrating further to keep their families going, looking for casual work in neighbouring towns or villages for a few days or weeks at a time, or to cities further away. Many try to return home when they can, with whatever they have earned. But during their absence, the entire burden of maintaining the family is on women.

Researchers are in a race against time to predict how climate change will affect these communities and help them adapt, with drought and flood resistant crops and cattle breeds for example. But it’s often overlooked that climate change will affect one half of humanity significantly more than the other. Longstanding gender inequality means that within regions of the world that are particularly vulnerable to climate change, women are likely to suffer more than men.

A woman leads goats to grazing and water in the Moyar Bhavani Basin, India. Prathigna Poonacha, Author provided

Isolated and overburdened

In a recent study, we found that extreme weather and unpredictable seasons disproportionately weaken the agency of women to find well paid work and rise above rigid gender roles, even when these appear to be bending after decades of reform and activism. Without support in the form of assured drinking water, energy, childcare or credit, women end up working harder and in poorer conditions for lower wages.

Women already in poverty are increasingly finding themselves in a vicious cycle of low productivity, indebtedness and food insecurity as crops and livestock fail, as we found particularly in semi-arid parts of Africa and India. Women in northern Kenya complained that they could no longer afford meat, so ate rice and potatoes instead, even when this wasn’t enough to satisfy their hunger.

As environmental stresses accumulate, community support networks break down. When people are displaced and have to settle elsewhere, men search for work and women are left behind at home, often in unfamiliar surroundings and lacking support from friends and relatives. But even if they do know people, with all the challenges of running the household in a strange environment, there is little time to help others.

As men migrate to find work, women have to shoulder the burden of housework, farming and childcare. Prathigna Poonacha, Author provided

With full responsibility for household chores, farming and caring for the children and elderly, women have less time to socialise or take part in community events, including meetings of the elected village government. If the state or charities can help, there’s often competition for securing those benefits. In Namibia, people tend to stick with their ethnic groups to guarantee access through collective effort, but this means that ethnic minorities in the region are often excluded.

In Mali, heavier burdens are placed on women who are young and less educated. In India or Pakistan, women belonging to a lower social class or marginal caste suffer the most. Gender relations differ in each place and according to each situation – they’re often too variable to emerge in broad national and global assessments. We tried to find a way to generalise our findings across 25 very diverse locations, in Asia and Africa, without losing the nuance of each woman’s experiences.

The bare necessities

If much of the problem is structural, then short-term solutions like cyclone shelters or drought relief won’t address the underlying causes of poverty and precariousness. Social safety nets that can ensure the basic necessities of food and shelter are needed, like the public distribution system for cereals in India, or the pensions and social grants available in Namibia.

To ensure that the health of people in these places doesn’t irreversibly decline, women need to be supported with child and healthcare services, but also drinking water and cooking fuel. The role of community support is crucial during crises, but there’s little that women can do to help themselves without resources and skills.

A woman collects drinking water from a well in Bangalore, India. Prathigna Poonacha, Author provided

Competitive labour markets are also undervaluing the labour of poor women. Ensuring minimum wages and fair working conditions would help, but these are hard to implement across borders. As climate change causes traditional livelihoods to collapse, migrant men are similarly exploited by new employers. Deprived of adequate food and rest, many end up sick and spend their earnings on medical treatment.

Tackling the climate emergency and making sure these women and men live meaningful lives will take more than overcoming gender stereotypes. If given support, they can find creative solutions to the disruption that climate change has brought. But this support must mean the guarantee of universal access to food, shelter and basic services. At COP25 in Madrid, world leaders should help vulnerable communities to adapt to climate change with resources and solidarity, not warm words and rhetoric.

This article was originally posted on The Conversation.
Cover photo by Asantha Abeysooriya on Unsplash
Technologies to manage climate change already exist – but UK needs to scale up efforts urgently

Technologies to manage climate change already exist – but UK needs to scale up efforts urgently

By Andreas Busch

When it comes to tackling climate change the UK is still taking baby steps. A lot more needs to be done – and fast – to hit the 2050 net zero carbon emission targets, which involves offsetting any emissions by absorbing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere.

While this process can build on future innovations, the technologies are actually already in place to make a real difference – technologies that, of all things, are based on the skills of the oil and gas industry.

The world is currently approaching an average global temperature increase of 1ºC compared to pre-industrial times, largely attributed to increasing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2). Meanwhile, the BP Energy Outlook predicts a future increase in the use of fossil fuels.

The world population is growing and more people will be moving from low incomes to higher ones, resulting in a higher energy demand towards the end of the century. So achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 will be a tremendous challenge, requiring engineering solutions at mega-scale.

Effective solutions

The world already has effective engineering solutions to manage climate change and to limit global temperatures from rising above 1.5°C – a target set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But there is a desperate lack of conviction from politicians and society to address the climate emergency.

Morgan Stanley estimated that meeting the 2050 targets requires an investment of US$50 trillion. Put into perspective, that’s about 50 times the company value of Apple.

The report states that investments need to be in electric cars, renewableshydrogencarbon capture and storage (CCS) and biofuels. Many of these technologies rely on the need to use the geological subsurface for producing heat in the form of geothermal energy, permanently storing carbon dioxide or for temporarily storing hydrogen. For CCS, CO2 is pumped into porous underground formations (such as water-bearing saline formations or depleted oil and gas reservoirs) at a depth of 1km or more, where a tight sealing layer prevents these fluids from leaking towards the surface.

In Australia, for example, oil and gas giant Chevron has started a large-scale CCS project where 3.4-4 million tons of CO2 will be stored beneath the seafloor annually, but this initiative is by no means unique. There are currently around 18 international CCS projects that are removing between 30 and 40 million tons of CO2 each year. While these figures may sound impressive, they only represent about 10% of emissions produced by the UK alone each year.

CCS is a technology that can be linked to large-scale fossil fuel combustion for decarbonising the energy sector. It can also be linked to direct CO2 capture from the air or CO2 produced from using biofuels, both having the potential to achieve net negative CO2 emissions.

According to the recent IPCC special report, CCS, when deployed globally, could amount to a reduction of hundreds of billions of tons of CO2 emissions by 2050. The scale of the problem is vast and existing global projects need to be scaled-up between 100 and 1,000 times their current size to be truly effective.

What lies beneath

Another energy solution – where size is not an issue – is harnessing the tremendous heat that lies beneath the Earth’s surface to generate electricity and heat. Investment in these geothermal energy projects is increasing, but not at the pace required.

Geothermal energy can provide decentralised, affordable and continuous energy to heat homes or produce electricity. While this energy is right beneath our feet, progress on adopting it is slow due to a lack of investment and political support compared to other renewable energies such as wind and solar.

While the operational cost of geothermal energy production is competitive with other renewable energies, the downside is that investment costs are high, especially when producing from a greater depth. As a consequence, installed capacity is less than 1% of the global electricity consumption.

The same is true of progressing towards a hydrogen economy. Hydrogen can be produced in many ways and used to heat homes, fuel cars or produce electricity. Hydrogen reacts with oxygen to form pure water. It can be produced from renewable energies or from natural gas in a refining process.

The drawback of a hydrogen economy is that it produces CO2 as a by-product, which must ultimately be integrated into the CCS chain. Hydrogen consumption is demand-driven while renewable energies produce energy independent of demand. Overproduction can temporarily be stored in geological formations, and back produced when demand is increasing.

Climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg. Shutterstock

All these technologies depend on using the subsurface either as a temporary or permanent solution. It requires the expertise of geoscientists and petroleum engineers – highly skilled specialists who have delivered a fossil fuel-based economy in the past, and who will contribute to providing energy in the future. But more than that, it calls for visionary political ideas and legislation. For many people it is a crucial issue in the December general election.

But given what is required, society has still not yet fully recognised the urgency required to combat climate change. An energy transition at this scale will change the way people live and work, but it will also require people to properly grasp the scale of the problem. Student activist group Fridays for Future and groundbreaking young campaigners like Greta Thunberg pave the way. But only political leadership, policies and funding can make it happen.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Cover photo by David Dibert on Unsplash
Building with bamboo can cool the climate

Building with bamboo can cool the climate

By Kieran Cooke

There could be a way of countering one key aspect of the climate emergency by making much greater use of a widely-available plant: by building with bamboo.

Bamboo is already one of the most widely-used and versatile natural materials on the planet; foods, medicines and cooking utensils, musical instruments, clothes and furniture are made from it. It’s used as well for scaffolding, floor coverings, bicycle frames, promoting fertility in cattle – and for brewing beer.

Now researchers say increasing the use of bamboo in the building sector could play a big role in fighting climate change.

A study by researchers at Cambridge University in the UK and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria, published in the journal Scientific Reports, examined bamboo’s structure and how heat flows through it, a process known as thermal conductivity.

It’s estimated that the building sector in the UK accounts for between 30% and 40% of the country’s climate-changing carbon emissions.

“Renewable, plant-based materials such as bamboo have huge potential for sustainable and energy-efficient buildings”

This is due both to the production and use of energy-intensive materials – mainly steel and cement – and the energy required to heat and cool buildings.

“Renewable, plant-based materials such as bamboo have huge potential for sustainable and energy-efficient buildings”, says the study.

“Their use could dramatically reduce emissions compared to traditional materials, helping to mitigate the human impact of climate change.”

Using advanced scanning thermal microscopy, researchers looked at heat flows across bamboo cell walls and examined the plant’s vascular tissue, which transports fluid and nutrients within it.

The resulting images revealed an intricate fibre structure with alternating layers of thick and thin cell walls: it was found that the thicker walls generate the best thermal conductivity and are also responsible for bamboo’s strength and stiffness.


“Nature is an amazing architect”, says Darshil Shah of the department of architecture at Cambridge, who led the study. “Bamboo is structured in a really clever way. It grows by one millimetre every 90 seconds, making it one of the fastest-growing plant materials.”

The study says the amount of heating and cooling required in buildings is fundamentally related to the properties of the material they are made from, particularly how much heat the materials used can conduct and store.

The researchers say that a better understanding of the thermal properties of bamboo could lead to the plant being more widely used – not just for flooring materials as at present, but also as part of the actual structure of buildings.

“People may worry about the fire safety of bamboo buildings”, says Shah. “To address this properly we have to understand the thermal properties of the building material.

“Through our work we can see that heat travels along the structure-supporting thick cell wall fibres in bamboo, so if exposed to the heat of a fire the bamboo might soften more quickly in the direction of those fibres. This helps us work out how to reinforce the building appropriately.” 

This article was originally published on the Climate News Network.
Cover photo by Dil on Unsplash
Adaptation Community Meeting: USAID’s Approach to Developing and Managing Shock Responsive Programming and Adaptive Mechanisms

Adaptation Community Meeting: USAID’s Approach to Developing and Managing Shock Responsive Programming and Adaptive Mechanisms

There is an increasing recognition within USAID and the larger international development community of the need for a shock responsive approach in development activities to help countries and communities recover from shocks and adapt livelihood approaches and management practices to mitigate the impacts of future shocks. These shocks (external short-term deviations from long-term trends) can have substantial negative effects on people’s current state of well-being, level of assets, livelihoods, safety, or their ability to withstand future shocks. Many areas prone to shocks also experience long-term pressures (e.g. degradation of natural resources, urbanization, political instability, or diminishing social capital) that further undermine the stability of a system and increase vulnerability within it. Shock responsiveness is especially relevant in regions and agro-climatic zones subject to recurrent shocks, such as droughts and floods. Even in areas not subject to recurrent climatic shocks, crises associated with a wide array of shocks and stresses are possible, if not probable, within USAID’s usual five-year project implementation timeframe. In turn, this demands a more flexible, shock-responsive approach to development investment and programming.

At the October Adaptation Community Meeting, André Mershon from the Bureau for Food Security presented on USAID’s guidance for shock responsive programming and outlined methods for proactively designing adaptive and shock responsive activities, as well as options to respond to shocks through existing development programs. This included examples from Ethiopia and the Sahel.

This article was originally posted on ClimateLinks.
Cover photo from Climate Visuals.
Towards better assessment of adaptation results

Towards better assessment of adaptation results

By Barry Smith

Multilateral climate funds are missing opportunities for better adaptation monitoring and evaluation for learning (MEL). Global Results Measurement Frameworks (RMFs) set up by climate funds should seek to align with, and nurture national MEL systems. This would benefit both the global climate funds and developing countries. So, how can global funds better embrace country-owned RMFs? 

IIED and partner Garama 3C Ltd are working on a project to help developing countries establish adaptation monitoring mechanisms that improve transparency, increase learning and effectively evaluate progress towards adapting to climate change. We have undertaken a series of ‘light touch’ case studies looking at how countries can align adaptation monitoring and evaluation (M&E) with other frameworks.  

Such an alignment would also help countries to grow their adaption M&E activities into full MEL systems, facilitating improved decision-making in future. 

Benefits of aligning global RMFs with national M&E systems

Global RMFs that are better integrated with national systems can help countries develop and embed national climate change M&E systems, generating country buy-in and integrating climate change MEL across government ministries to accurately report against their specific priorities. 

Despite these benefits, there is limited evidence that M&E systems are linking across levels – the global RMF with the national M&E. This misses out on efficiencies of using existing frameworks. An overemphasis on upward accountability through reporting to funders can neglect downward accountability and adds layers to already complicated M&E requirements. 

Countries are best placed to understand their own adaptation needs, and many countries are already developing diverse adaptation indicators. It’s these indicators that should be used for reporting.

Evidence of strong national M&E systems 

Adaptation M&E in many developing countries is at a nascent stage, but this is not always the case. Several countries have developed well-functioning M&E systems, presenting strong opportunities for alignment.

These systems include frameworks for climate change adaptation, such as Kenya’s monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) framework, established to track the results of mitigation and adaptation actions. The Philippines designed its Results-Based Monitoring and Evaluation System (RBMES) to measure results of implementing the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) (2011). 

Some M&E systems integrate climate change indicators – the Cambodia Climate Change Strategic Plan 2014-23 (CCCSP), for instance. The global processes under the UNFCCC are also driving national-level M&E, such as the NAP process in Peru, Kiribati, and Ethiopia. 

There is already evidence that global climate funds can support national systems, as in Mozambique, Samoa and Cambodia where technical assistance provided by the Climate Investment Fund (CIF) under the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) has helped to  embed national M&E systems. 

Some countries, such as Morocco, already have environment information and monitoring frameworks that work well. Linking into these systems can deliver efficiencies by reducing reporting burden and speeding up integration of indicators into existing frameworks.

Two routes for alignment

We have analysed monitoring systems in MexicoMoroccoSouth Africa and the Philippines to assess their potential for linking with global frameworks and informing adaptation MEL.

Drawing from our analysis, we identify two broad routes for linking up:

i) global RMFs can align with strong country systems

ii) global funds can nurture less sophisticated country-level M&E systems. 

Our recommendations are detailed below:

i) Global RMFs can align with strong country systems

To effectively align with national systems, funds can harmonise their metrics with country-led results frameworks:

  • Align with country priorities: the different funds’ RMFs help countries focus their project proposals on results areas based on the funds’ strategic priorities. Aligning proposals with country priorities instead would allow countries to assess adaptation progress against their own country-specific goals.
  • Mandate country focal points with monitoring responsibilities: climate funds can provide a focus on portfolio or country-level reporting through delineating monitoring roles to country focal points to bring together MEL processes at different results levels.
  • Design RMFs with a stronger emphasis on downward accountability and use of results for better decision making: this will help alignment with measuring the long-term benefits of an investment rather than develop project-specific, detached indicator frameworks.

Funds can also use existing country frameworks – provided these frameworks are sufficiently robust:

  • National monitoring systems can inform climate funds’ RMF indicators: country-led indicators can provide more accurate  measures of adaptation success, by providing context-specific metrics to measure process and outcomes success. This is achieved through context-specific indicators to measure processes, outcomes and impacts over the longer-term.
  • Use national repositories and data systems for sustained reporting: using national repositories or data systems may not provide the same resolution of primary or project-specific data, but it can be an effective way to collect sustained data on a regular basis.
ii) Global funds can nurture less sophisticated country-level M&E systems

Where national systems are at an early stage of development, global funds can play a role in fostering MEL systems or integrating their own RMFs into the emerging national systems by providing financial and technical assistance:

  • Technical assistance: international funds can invest in national M&E systems and support the national MEL apparatus to ensure sustainability. As well as drawing on existing indicators from country-led frameworks, funds can support already-operational institutions and processes, as well as existing data sources, avoiding duplication and building on what is in place.
  • Improve countries MEL technical capabilities: a concerted global effort is needed to make sure that countries have the technical capacity they need to identify and implement adaptation actions and track their performance.
  • Integrate adaptation MEL within national budgetary systems or national MEL for development: linking climate results with national budgeting processes, medium-term financing and expenditure frameworks, as well as national development planning processes, helps ensure sustainability. Climate funds can play a key role in funding capacity development for MEL or institutionalising it by investing in long-term capabilities and MEL system development. 

This article was originally published on IIED blogs.
Cover photo from Climate Visuals
People power: How citizen science is building climate resilience in South Asia

People power: How citizen science is building climate resilience in South Asia

By Uma Pal

Climate change threatens to push back development and growth in the already vulnerable South Asian region. Action to build resilience of human and natural systems needs to be taken urgently and at an unprecedented scale. Diverse and extensive ecosystems, climates and socio-economic features in the region make it a challenge to collect adequate data and conduct research on the impacts of climate change. Citizen science can be a useful tool for mitigating this challenge and enabling more comprehensive research and resilience building initiatives both at the individual level and at scale.

In the wake of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Earth Challenge 2020 is being launched as the world’s largest coordinated citizen science campaign. This campaign is expected to engage citizens from across the world to collect and aggregate information on air quality, water quality, biodiversity, pollution and human health, and leverage it to influence policy decisions and action. Citizen science is widely recognised as an important approach, especially in the field of climate resilience, for raising awareness, bridging data and capacity gaps and influencing governance through actively engaging civil society in research and monitoring.

Citizen science approaches can bring scientists and communities closer, bridge the gap between research and uptake and build capacity of communities to tackle the impacts of climate change. Citizen science is essentially participatory in nature, which means that citizen scientists are actively involved through the process of collecting information, designing measures which help build their resilience and monitoring governance systems. Therefore, such initiatives can lend more rigour to or can be an entry point for broader adaptation spectrums such as community-based adaptation, climate resilient agriculture and climate resilient water management.

This is of relevance, especially in South Asia, where lives of the most vulnerable people are integrally linked to natural resources. For example, 60 percent of agricultural land in South Asia is rainfed. Governments in South Asian countries are already implementing participatory natural resource management initiatives such as the watershed development programmes across India by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, a government owned development financial institution. Along with ensuring active participation of communities in conservation and development activities, a targeted component of community led information collection and interpretation can further enhance their ability to perceive risks and help build a broader evidence base.

People-powered science is already underway in South Asia

In South Asia, citizen science approaches have started gaining momentum and are on their way to becoming an important component of resilience research and action. While targeted citizen science initiatives are still at a nascent stage in South Asia, the region has a significant pool of traditional and experiential knowledge which can be organised for collecting, analysing and sharing localised information.

The region is highly vulnerable to climate change due to diverse climates, existing socio-economic vulnerabilities and dependence of a large section of the population on agriculture and natural resources-based livelihoods. People working in agriculture or fishing, who are on the frontlines of climate change, can be trained to collect valuable information on variability and adaptation options for their areas. This implies that these communities bring with them years of knowledge and experience which are useful not just for collecting data but also for situating climate risks and resilience building initiatives within their own contexts.

In order to bring together scientific assessments and local knowledge on climate change in northeast Bangladesh, the Transforming Climate Knowledge with and for Society (TRACKS) project, coordinated by the University of Bergen, adopted a citizen science approach. This entailed a collaboration between scientists and locals to identify new methods of collecting climate information, especially in the absence of high-resolution data or accurate meteorological information. It was observed that many citizen scientists could make accurate predictions by combining information from various sources such as weather forecasts, temperature and humidity gauges installed at their homes and their localised observations. The project also built capacity amongst citizen scientists so they can accurately interpret different sets of accessible data and use them to make more informed decisions across the agricultural value chain. 

Citizen science initiatives are not limited to those whose livelihoods are directly linked to the climate. Based on the context and nature of information collection, any concerned citizen or civil society organisation can be a part of such initiatives. For example, SeasonWatch, a citizen science initiative, has been collecting data on the seasonal phases of common trees across India to gauge the impact of seasonal shifts. The initiative intends to corroborate anecdotal evidence with crowd sourced data and while anyone can participate in data collection, the programme focuses on schools as its volunteer base to enhance environmental awareness among youth.     

The outlook for citizen science

Citizen science is still new in South Asia and while some initiatives in the region are creating pools of vital information on biodiversity and ecosystems, this approach has not yet been taken up widely. This poses challenges in terms of lack of scalability and reach yet brings opportunities in terms of the new ways in which citizen science can be organised and tailored for the adaptation space in the region. Steps that can lead the way forward for citizen science initiatives in South Asia include:

  • raising awareness of communities and active citizen scientists on the impacts of climate change, building their capacity to collect, read and interpret localised data,
  • organising citizen scientists and linking them to natural and social scientists working in the field,
  • establishing long lasting relationships between citizen scientists and governing institutions to ensure that their research and findings inform policies and action,
  • enabling citizen scientists to hold governing institutions accountable, and
  • building a robust base for monitoring and evaluating the impact of citizen science on existing bodies of research and governance.

Citizen science offers great potential to contribute to our understanding of how to build resilience to climate impacts, especially in areas where climate and socio-economic data is scarce. Support for such programmes could also represent good value for money, and act to increase overall awareness and understanding of climate change and its impacts.

Coverphoto by Wonderlane on Unsplash.
Analysing the European climate services demand – drivers of adaptation and recommendations

Analysing the European climate services demand – drivers of adaptation and recommendations

By Richard Bater

Climate change results in specific and uneven impacts that are dependent on the sensitivities of each sector and asset. Moreover, the risks associated with climate change raise implications throughout sector value chains and across asset lifecycles, from planning and design to commodity pricing and trading. The interconnected, geographically dispersed nature of much of today’s economic activity means that climate risks can rapidly cascade through global value chains, transforming and transmitting physical risks in one place into material, liability and other risks in other places.

The MARCO (MArket Research for a Climate services Observatory) project assesses the vulnerabilities and needs of different climate service markets, and the conditions that could enable the market to flourish in future. The overriding purpose of this analysis is to help climate-proof Europe through addressing gaps and vulnerabilities in Europe’s capacity to adjust to a new climate reality, and guide development of climate services that better meet these needs.

In partnership with LGi, Acclimatise has led a multi-national consortium to undertake deep-dive studies regarding demand for climate services for a range of sectors and regions across Europe. This work has resulted in a method for conducting risk-based market analysis of demand for climate services that can be replicated in any sector or region. Drawing on the insights of more than one hundred stakeholders, the sectors analysed by the project span Copenhagen real estate to Austrian alpine winter tourism, and also includes the first integrated analysis of the implications of climate change for legal services and its potential demand for climate-related information. Collectively, the sectors and regions covered by the studies account for €247.9bn of economic output and support 2.25 million jobs.

The full set of studies and synthesis report can be found at the end of this article.

Key results

It is shown that decreasing precipitation and higher maximum temperatures pose a risk the greatest number of sectors and regions studied. It is essential to note, however, that physical exposure and vulnerability to hazards are only one indicator of potential demand; compliance-driven climate risk disclosure obligations are likely to result in more generalised uptake of services catering to such needs.

Across sectors, the studies highlight two important lapses in governance that lead to climate risks being unmanaged. First, users often demonstrate a ‘proximity bias’; a tendency to attend to near-term risks or base decisions on historical experience, rather than on an awareness of risks expected to materialise now and in future. This can result in climate risk being viewed as a discrete, ‘horizon’ issue to be dealt with later, rather than a stressor of today’s risks that calls to be dealt with sooner.

This can give rise to at least three challenges. First, the unevenly felt and – with time – diminishing influence of climate events of decision making means that risks may lack systematic solutions, and may quickly slip down the agenda as other priorities come to the fore. Second, an absence of either experience of extreme climate events or legal duties to manage risks can result in latent risks being unmanaged and opportunities unexploited. Third, in either case chronic climate risks may be left entirely unexamined and unmanaged, despite these potentially resulting in higher liabilities being accrued in the long term.

Second, an absence of clear responsibility for managing climate risks, particularly in sectors typified by long or complex value chains, can result in risks to people or property being left unclaimed and therefore unmanaged. This can ultimately increase aggregate net risk to asset owners, reinsurers, and wider society.

Other key findings include:

  • Sectors best served by climate services are: water, energy, agriculture, urban planning, education, and forestry. These sectors tend to be ‘strategic’ or well provisioned by existing weather service providers.
  • Overall, there is a very low demand-side awareness of what climate services are, the benefits they may bring, or where they may be sought.
  • Far-sighted organisations are recognising that addressing climate change can help – rather than hinder – the realisation of existing strategic goals.
  • Studies identify several drivers of climate service use, as shown in the table below:
Why adapt?
Contribute to building the resilience of communities and ecosystems
Optimised risk pricing
Ensure resilience of operations, products, and services
Reduce the cost of material inputs
Ensure business continuity and realisation of strategic goals
Bolster credit worthiness, investor appeal, and insurability
Mitigate liability risks
Enhance intangible / reputational value
No-/low-regret adaptation fortifies organisation
Exploit emerging opportunities

Despite these advantages, across sectors the studies show that organisations are more likely to produce climate services and be ahead on building resilience if have one or more of the following attributes:

  • They have a long-term investment in their organisation or project;
  • They have direct experience of dealing with the impacts of climate hazards;
  • They own or operate large-scale fixed assets, often strategic in nature;
  • The public sector has a stake in the organisation, resulting that public policy priorities are brought to bear on an organisation’s governance and planning.


The market for climate services is in a state of flux, with evolving soft and hard regulatory frameworks driving demand for new types of climate services from new sectors:

  1. The EU High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, the European Pensions Directive IORP II, and the Finance Stability Board’s Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures is bringing about change in the regulatory environment;
  2. Directors’, trustees’, and professional duties are evolving in light in respect of climate related liability;
  3. Climate change is increasingly viewed as a material financial risk and C-suite issue, as investors and others increasing expect to know the extent of corporate exposure to climate risks and the steps being taken to manage those risks;
  4. Increasing understanding of the material and reputational benefits of building resilience, such as improved operational performance over asset lifecycles and better managing investments in higher-risk assets (both transition and physical risk).

MARCO’s sector studies identified several recommendations to strengthen and harmonise the resilience building effort across Europe as well as better guide the climate services sector develop and scale advanced climate services that meet user needs:

  • Legislate for a clear, comprehensive, and harmonised legal framework for climate resilience that bring forward the time horizon for action on climate-related risk;
  • Design or upgrade plans, rules and standards that activate the framework at sectoral and regional levels in a coordinated but differentiated fashion;
  • Increase awareness – on both the demand and supply sides – about climate impacts at the level of specific sectors and regions;
  • Implement climate resilience strategies and measures at the level of each organisation;
  • Delineate responsibility for climate change adaptation or mitigation at the level of each organisation or project;
  • Continue to optimise climate services that meet the needs of end users;
  • Climate services should be demand-driven whilst being science-based. Prospective users are sensitive to the reliability and credibility of climate services, therefore appropriate quality assurance should be considered (e.g. professional charters).

Sectors covered:

  • Real estate (Denmark)
  • Mining (Europe)
  • Legal services (UK / global)
  • Renewable energy (Denmark)
  • Critical energy infrastructure (Germany)
  • Water infrastructure (Spain)
  • Urban infrastructure (Germany)
  • Agriculture and forestry (France)
  • Winter tourism (Austria)

You can access the MARCO Synthesis report here.

For more information, please visit You can also find MARCO on Twitter: @marco_h2020

MARCO Coordinator: Thanh-Tam Le, Climate-KIC

Partners: Climate-KIC (France), Acclimatise Ltd. (UK), Technical University of DenmarkFinnish Meteorological InstituteHelmholtz-Zentrum Geestacht HZG (Germany), INRA(France), Joanneum Research (Austria), kMatrix (UK), LGI Consulting (France), Smith Innovation (Denmark), UnternehmerTUM GmbH (Germany).

Duration: November 2016-November 2018. EU contribution: EUR 1,520,303.75

Cover photo by Mathias Eick EU/ECHO CC BY-SA 2.0
Becoming livable: Mandalay builds local capacity and completes landscape study

Becoming livable: Mandalay builds local capacity and completes landscape study

By Ian Hamilton

The Mandalay Building Urban Resilience (MBUR) project, financed with a $4 million grant from the Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF), has trained over 800 stakeholders in climate resilient urban planning and management since its inception in April 2018. 

The project is part of the Mandalay Urban Services Improvement Project (MUSIP) of the Asian Development Bank, a $60 million investment that will help the city build a new water treatment plant, upgrade and extend the existing water supply network, and construct the city’s first centralized wastewater collection and treatment plant. 

It is an ambitious drive to improve the urban environment and public health of Mandalay. At the moment, there is no piped sewerage system and no centralized wastewater treatment plant. Any discharge goes directly into canals and creeks, leading to waterborne diseases.  

In addition, the former royal capital of Myanmar has a rapidly growing population. Census data puts the city’s population at 1.46 million and it is expected to more than double by 2040. The agency tasked with urban service delivery and infrastructure development, the Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC), is in need of support. It currently is unable to effectively undertake all the responsibilities for urban planning and management due to lack of human and financial resources, limited skills, and planning information.  

This prompted MCDC to request for training activities—the MBUR project. They wanted capacity building interventions that would support the city government’s ongoing projects and which are anchored on practical issues rather than theory.  

To achieve this, the training activities under the MBUR project were designed to build MCDC’s capacity to implement current projects and address the city’s priority issues with the long-term view of building urban resilience. The training programs developed and conducted for MCDC staff centered on climate resilient urban planning and management. The MBUR project team is also closely working with other ongoing loan and grant subprojects of MUSIP, including the UCCRTF-funded Community-Based Solid Waste Management Project.  

On top of this, the project established an urban management database that will lay the foundation for e-governance and urban decision-making processes. 

As of mid-March 2019, the MBUR project has organized 39 sessions attended by 801 participants (81% female) comprised of government officials and students of Mandalay Technical University as well as other universities in the region. 

Image from Thingazar Creek Embankment Design Guide: Hard and Soft Banks by MBUR  

Transforming the Thingazar Creek 

Along with strengthening local capacity (which is also an aim of MUSIP), the MBUR project recently completed a study on comprehensive landscape improvement measures designed at enhancing the livability of the Thingazar Creek (TGC) area.  

The Thingazar Creek is a major priority project focus area under MUSIP, to improve wastewater and solid waste management, as well as raise the living conditions of residents along the creek. The study has been undertaken through capacity building with several departments within MCDC, contributing actively to data collection, analysis, and proposals.  

The study includes both hard and soft landscaping bankside proposals which incorporate sustainable urban drainage solutions in relation to local socioeconomic activities, accessibility, solid waste collection points, and the finalized sewer locations. The data collected and analysis undertaken will be used as inputs for a forthcoming training designed to promote the many historic buildings and activities in this part of Mandalay to both local and foreign visitors. 

This article was originally published on ADB’s Livable Cities Blog.
Cover photo of U Bein Bridge across the Taungthaman Lake, Amarapura from Wikimedia Commons.
Can mobile gaming help build climate resilience?

Can mobile gaming help build climate resilience?

By Emily Fox

Editor’s note: As the impacts of climate change become increasingly severe, new tools are needed to communicate how people’s actions affect the environment – and what we can do to respond. A powerful and underexplored medium for climate communications is video games, but game’s designers like Alan Scott-Moncrieff are looking to change all that…

With almost a third of the world’s population playing PC and handheld games, what better way to introduce the next generation to environmentalism than with a mobile game app? “Skookum’s quest” is being developed in the United States to entertain and educate children around the world to think “green” and simultaneously crowdfund real-world fixes for our planet.  

The game’s designer is artist Alan Scott-Moncrieff, a resident of Portland, Oregon. Born in Scotland to an American mother, his grandfather was the illustrator of Read with Dick and JaneThe Black Stallion and other renowned children’s books. Scott-Moncrieff studied fine art at Edinburgh then lived and exhibited as an artist for eleven years in Manhattan. Picking up a 16mm film camera in the mid-nineties he went on to shoot an award winning documentary on the Khmer Rouge before founding a leadership school in Cambodia for former street children. 

“We worked with MIT to develop a field lab for students to design and build oil-free innovations for impoverished farming communities throughout SE Asia,” explains Scott-Moncrieff. Forcibly shut down by regional oil interests in 2008, he returned to the United States to work with veteran non-profits addressing suicide prevention and homelessness. Asked if he was angry about the eventual fate of his collaboration with MIT, Scott-Moncrieff replies “no, just more determined. And wiser!” 

Since 2014 Scott-Moncrieff has been designing his mobile gaming app to empower children worldwide to fix the planet. The app will be coded by Seattle Software Developers in Washington and will establish proof of concept for a suite of planned eco-games. This initial game will combine an exciting adventure platform with actual touch points on current environmental hotspots, allow increased scoring through eco-heroism and green plot choices, encourage collaboration with other players to foil poachers and rescue endangered animals, and allow players to acquire validations from real life scientists, ecologists and game wardens in the field. 

A virtual passport will allow international travel and activism within the game, and the opportunity to speak at the UN and other world forums. Monthly winners of the game will gave away a 33% share to a cause of their choosing: within two years this could amount to millions of dollars each month. Scott-Moncrieff believes the opportunity of media coverage and mainstream fame for monthly winners will fuel global subscriptions and exponentially grow the game’s crowdfunding capabilities. 

 “One-in-three grade school kids believe the planet will be uninhabitable when they grow up,” says Scott-Moncrieff. “That’s a devastating fact. This game will serve to re-instil their hope in a healthy future for Earth and give kids the power to fund the fixes they want to see environmentally. Tomorrow’s adults will need to think differently and make greener lifestyle choices, and we can help them arrive at that mind-set through play.” 

“There is no time to wait for snail-like policy changes, government grants and labor-intensive private sector philanthropy. The planet needs immediate super-funding on a monthly basis if we are to assuage catastrophic climate warming.” 

After monthly game updates and enhancements have been paid for, the remainder of profits will be allocated to atmospheric carbon capture, ocean plastic retrieval and aggressive species protection. With over 1.4M students organizing for youth climate strikes across 130 countries over the past months, kids everywhere are clearly poised for engagement and many parents will likely get behind their child’s participation. Players will pay a $1.99/£1.50 subscription per month which Scott-Moncrieff estimates will crowd raise a mega fund of $200M-$400M annually within 3 years, in perpetuity. 

“That’s a lot of Earth-saving power,” he adds, with a smile. 

Scott-Moncrieff also brings many notable contacts to the table from his years in the art world and film industry, and is aligning a think tank of leading scientists, environmentalists, business luminaries and celebrities to help guide allocations and act as spokespersons for the game. Seattle Software Developers have been in the business since the early days of the internet and believes this could be the most important environmental cleanup instrument ever implemented using the most compelling world-crowdfunding mechanism possible. 

If you are interested in learning more, or if you’d like to donate/invest in the game, you can reach Alan Scott-Moncrieff at

Cover photo by David Grandmougin on Unsplash.
Experts mobilized to support Central Sulawesi redevelopment

Experts mobilized to support Central Sulawesi redevelopment

By Joy Amor Bailey

The Asian Development Bank (ADB), through resources from the Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF), was one of the first development partners to offer support for the recovery and reconstruction of Sulawesi in Indonesia after a combination of an earthquake and soil liquefaction left more than 4,000 people dead and more than 100,000 families homeless last September 2018. 

From November 2018 to February 2019, various experts were mobilized to support BAPPENAS, the national development planning agency, in the preparation of the Central Sulawesi Damage and Loss Assessment and the Master Plan of Post-Disaster Recovery and Redevelopment.  

Anchored on the principle of “Build Back Better, Safer, and More Sustainable”, BAPPENAS collaborated with various ministries and local stakeholders in the coordination of activities as well as the drafting of action plans. The experts financed through UCCRTF took advisory roles in the consultation workshops and report writing of five Key Working Groups:  

  1. Development of Disaster Risk Areas 
  2. Rehabilitation of Regional Infrastructures
  3. Socio-cultural and Economic Recovery
  4. Finance and Collaboration, and  
  5. Regulation and Institution

Steps are also being taken to ensure that the Master Plan is implemented effectively. Suprayoga Hadi, primary planner at BAPPENAS, is working closely with other government agencies to cascade the use of the Master Plan, such that it informs upcoming interventions. More recently, Hadi has requested ADB to engage monitoring and evaluation experts who will assist the central government in supervising the redevelopment of various sectors. 

This article was originally featured on the Livable Cities ADB site.
Cover photo by Ivan Bandura on Unsplash.