Category: Disaster Risk Reduction

How to reduce the impact of climate risks on business: takeaways from the Russian Chapter roundtable

How to reduce the impact of climate risks on business: takeaways from the Russian Chapter roundtable

The roundtable “Questions to Assist Non-Executive Director Oversight of Physical Risk Climate Management”, was held on 15 October 2020, hosted by the Directors’ Climate Forum Russian Chapter in cooperation with Deloitte CIS, Acclimatise and MinterEllison. Experts from Russia and the UK discussed with independent directors of the largest Russian and international companies how face new climate challenges, how to enhance risk management processes, as well as what procedures and practices need to be implemented today not to jeopardize the company’s activities in the near future.

Physical climate risks are currently one of major business concerns. Climate change affects productivity and asset values, increases the cost of capital, and changes the supply and demand curve of products and services. At the Russian Chapter roundtable, their views on this problem, as well as their experience in developing a sustainable business strategy were shared by:

  • Olga Pascault, Founder and Chair of Management Board at Russian Chapter, Member of the International Advisory Board at APQ Global, Independent Director at NESsT UK;
  • Elena Haykin (Sapozhnikova), Founder and Member of Management Board at Russian Chapter, partner of the Digital Horizon investment group, independent director of PJSC Inter RAO;
  • Ian Colebourne, Chief Executive Officer, Deloitte CIS;
  • Andrey Yakushin, Head of Corporate Affairs Development Division at the Central Bank of Russian Federation;
  • Richard Bater, Climate Risk Analyst , Acclimatise (UK);
  • John Firth, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Acclimatise (UK);
  • Ellie Mulholland, Senior Associate, MinterEllison, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Climate and Law Initiative.

Opening the event, Olga Pascault and Elena Haykin (Sapozhnikova) emphasized that in terms of the probability of occurrence and possible scale of losses, climate risk is among the most significant.

On the one hand, companies’ actions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other negative impact on the environment help to avoid physical consequences, but at the same time lead to significant transitional risks – market, technological or regulatory. On the other hand, the inability to reduce emissions can limit transitional risks, but will aggravate climate change, and it is very important for the company to find a reasonable balance.

Ian Colebourne told the participants about Deloitte’s international initiative WorldClimate, which drives responsible climate choices within and beyond the company by focusing on four principles: Net-zero by 2030, operating green, empowering individuals and engaging ecosystems.

Ian noted that Deloitte also contributed by supporting its clients on their paths to a low-carbon future with climate risk assessment and management, and climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.

In his speech Andrey Yakushin emphasized how the Bank of Russia helped in financing sustainable development. In particular, special attention was paid to the Bank of Russia Regulation No. 706-P, “On Securities Issue Standards”, which provided a legal basis for issuance of labeled green and social bonds; Recommendations of the Bank of Russia on the implementation of principles of responsible investment, as well as creating in the Russian Federation a taxonomy of green activities and a verification system for green projects carried out jointly with the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia and VEB RF.

Dr. Richard Bater outlined the most likely physical climate risks facing the Russian Federation and noted that in our country the average temperature is rising at more than twice the global average rate and the number of climate-related extreme events also increasing. So, businesses ought to honestly answer themselves today if they have the right intelligence and knowhow to remain competitive and compliant in the face of a changing climate, when environmental adaptation has already become an important part of the political agenda at the federal level.

John Firth introduced the Guidance for Directors, prepared by Acclimatise, and set it within the context of wider global action by corporates, financial institutions and regulators to better manage and disclose physical climate risks. He also highlighted the role of the independent Board of Directors in shaping this agenda and tracking results.

Ellie Mulholland presented on the governance and liability issues that arise from a warming world, rising expectations of investors and regulators in global capital markets, responsibilities of independent directors in the context of climate change and how different warming scenarios in the future will impact resilience of assets and capitalization of the company.

In conclusion, the speakers answered the questions of the participants and invited them to the next Russian Chapter event – the webinar “Addressing Climate Change Issues: Impact on the Audit and Risk Committees’ Agenda”, which will be held on November 12, 2020.

The roundtable was supported by DLA Piper and international public relations agency PBN H+K Strategies. The recordings of the event can be found at the Russian Chapter’s site.

Download the report here.


Russian Chapter serves as the Russian hub for the global platform on climate change for board members, that operates under the auspices of the World Economic Forum. By implementing the Climate Governance Initiative (CGI), the World Economic Forum supports the growing awareness and competencies of boards of directors for effective climate governance.


Cover image by Michael Dam on Unsplash.
UNDRR’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction – 2020 Edition

UNDRR’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction – 2020 Edition

Tomorrow marks the UNDRR’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction. Held every 13 October, the day celebrates how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of reining in the risks that they face.

This year’s edition continues as part of the “Sendai Seven” campaign, focusing on Target E: “Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020.”  This year’s theme is about conveying that many disasters can be avoided if there are disaster risk reduction strategies in place to manage and reduce existing levels of risk.

You can find dedicated resources, stories, articles and events taking place around this day, here.

https://iddrr.undrr.org/
UCCRTF delivers COVID-19 patient transfer vehicles to Marawi City

UCCRTF delivers COVID-19 patient transfer vehicles to Marawi City

By UCCRTF Secretariat

Marawi City, capital of the Philippine province of Lanao del Sur, is still recovering from the five-month long armed conflict in 2017 three years onward.

​The Battle of Marawi, fought between Philippine Government forces and groups affiliated with Islamic State terrorists, left the city’s critical infrastructure systems in crisis. The city has therefore struggled to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, which struck as its resilience was low. As part of ongoing reconstruction efforts in Marawi, ADB’s Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF) has delivered patient monitoring and transport vehicles to Marawi City Health Office and Lanao del Sur Integrated Provincial Health Office on 27 February 2020 and 3 April 2020. The timely arrival of the vehicles is expected to strengthen the already weakened local health system to respond to the ongoing pandemic.

​Part of ADB’s “Emergency Assistance for Reconstruction and Recover of Marawi (EARRM)”, the initiative saw the ceremonial hand over of the vehicles’ keys at the Center for Health Development Northern Mindanao, Cagayan de Oro City. According to Undersecretary Abdullah B. Dumama Jr., the vehicles will be used to create a more efficient community health service in the province. He added that the Department of Health (DOH) is also due to provide ambulances and mobile health clinics to improve patient access to health care, and strengthen disaster preparedness and response capacity.

​The Center for Health Development Northern Mindanao, along with the DOH Project Management Team, is committed to regularly monitoring the usage of these vehicles, making sure they are fulfilling the need that they have been provided for.

Marawi-Ligtas-COVID1901.jpg

The delivery of the medical vehicles – From left to right: Dir. Mar Wynn Bello, Dir. Leonita Gorgolon, Undesecretary Abdullah Dumama Jr., Dr. Ali Dalidig, Dr. Alinader Minalang, Dir. Adriano Suba-an, Dir. David Mendoza

The EARRM Project will also fund the construction of two local health units, with essential medical equipment and supplies, ensuring access to essential health services for the community. “The DOH have been with us since the start of the Marawi Siege,” said Dr. Alinader Minalang, IPHO Lanao del Sur Provincial Health Officer. He added: “They have been providing support to our health care operations, including through managing the fund assistance available from various development partners such as the Asian Development Bank”.


This article was originally posted on ADB’s Livable Cities Blog.
Cover photo of Marawi City from Wikimedia Commons.
How to protect communities from natural disasters – what research tells us

How to protect communities from natural disasters – what research tells us

By Ravindra Jayaratne

On the morning of August 29 2005, one of the deadliest Atlantic hurricanes hit the US Gulf Coast. With sustained winds of up to 140 mph, Hurricane Katrina killed over 1,800 people and caused $160 billion worth of damage.

The government at the time was criticised for its slow response, particularly its failure to involve local communities in decisions about preparing for and responding to the disaster. Almost 15 years to the day, another major storm bore down on the region. Half a million people in Texas and Louisiana evacuated to escape Hurricane Laura’s “unsurvivable” storm surge and, at the time of writing, and at least six people have been killed.

I study natural disasters in order to better understand how to save lives. One of the most important strategies for reducing the risk to everyone in a community is to engage with local people at every stage of decision making.

Communities in disaster-prone regions have developed strategies over generations for dealing with extreme weather. They’re more likely to spot the warning seasons early and know how best to respond.

The impacts of natural disasters can have a lasting effect on the lives of those in affected regions too, as anyone who has lived in New Orleans over the last two decades could tell you. It’s vital the input of these communities is taken into consideration if there is to be lasting trust in the institutions that organise disaster preparation and relief efforts.

A person wades through chest-high flood water towards an abandoned car.
The US government response to Hurricane Katrina was widely considered a failure. EPA/Shawn Thew

Early warnings

Some of my research has compared how academic experts and people living in disaster-prone areas think differently about these events. While experts studying natural disasters tend to focus on intense but infrequent events like tsunamis, there are communities around the world which have adapted to milder but more common problems like flooding.

We wanted to visit communities in both the UK and Japan, to compare how their community leaders and engineers developed counter measures to protect their local areas. These were categorised as “soft” countermeasures, like evacuation plans and early warning systems, and as “hard” solutions, such as flood defences and embankments.

Communities facing high-impact but low-frequency disasters, like tsunamis in Japan, tend to have strategies that prevent or reduce the scale of the damage with hard engineering, such as sea walls. For communities subject to low-impact but high-frequency hazards like flooding, such as those we studied in the UK, adaptation is what characterises most countermeasures, including community networks that keep vulnerable people alert to any threat.

The Joukumachi community in Hita City of Oita Prefecture, Japan was affected by torrential rain in 2017 and 2018. Though government measures were slowly enacted, with some residents evacuated to shelters and higher ground, it was interventions by local residents that allowed the community to recognise the risks early and respond quickly.

Most notably, local people people used handmade rain gauges with loudspeakers that could broadcast alerts to monitor the approaching danger. This early warning system helped people prepare before the government could launch a response.

Solar powered rain gauges attached to red loudspeakers.
Gauges measure rainfall and attached loudspeakers broadcast a warning. Ravindra Jayaratne, Author provided

Preparing for the future

But what makes an effective response to future disasters? Our research in Sturmer, a flood-prone village in Essex, England, showed that dedicated community organising is the best defence.

Sturmer was swamped with heavy rainfall in 2001 and 2014, causing floods that wreaked a lot of damage. But these events paled in comparison to the catastrophic storm surges that devastated the region in 1953. As climate change threatens more severe rain storms in the future, the community has developed its own ways to stay prepared.


A sturdy, white board with 'floodshield' written on it stands in a living room.
Portable flood defences like this are stored in vulnerable homes and can be deployed when the action group warns flooding is imminent. Ravindra Jayaratne, Author provided

Following the floods in 2014, a flood action group was formed in the village. The group is led by members of the community and it communicates flood risk through meetings, magazines and flyers. To keep local residents aware of flood alerts, some in the group are responsible for constantly checking the daily weather forecast, as well as flood depth gauges deployed in the stream. When flooding seems imminent, the houses most at risk are provided with portable flood gates that can be deployed as and when they’re needed.

This ongoing, bottom-up approach looks very different to a reactive disaster response led by central government agencies – which are often based far away. Even the best examples of top-down management are unlikely to possess the breadth of experience and local knowledge that makes communities so effective at preparing for natural disasters.

Central governments must learn from them and ask how best they can aid relief and recovery, rather than try and impose a one-size-fits-all approach.


This article was originally posted on The Conversation.
Cover Image by Carol Colman from Pixabay
Acclimatise supports Macquarie to conduct climate risk heatmapping and scenario analysis exercises for TCFD disclosures and establishing materiality of physical and transition risks

Acclimatise supports Macquarie to conduct climate risk heatmapping and scenario analysis exercises for TCFD disclosures and establishing materiality of physical and transition risks

By Laura Canevari

Investors and asset managers are increasingly taking action to advance their transition to a low carbon, climate resilient economy and prepare for the financial impacts of climate change. Such is the case, for example, of Macquarie Group Limited, a multinational independent investment bank and financial services company headquartered in Sydney, Australia. As part of their continued efforts to align to the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), Macquarie conducted heat-mapping and climate scenario analysis on physical and transition risks in its holdings. The bank has released a new report reflecting on its progress to date against the four pillars of the TCFD (governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics).

Acclimatise deployed its HeatMapR toolkit to help Macquarie undertake a high-level analysis of physical climate risks on its global equity and lending portfolios against two climate scenarios. The heatmapping exercise used 1.5°C and 4°C warming scenarios*, representing good practice by selecting a high and low-risk scenario. The HeatMapR tool pulled climate hazards data for three time horizons, namely 2020, 2030 and 2050. A wide range of hazards were analysed in the exercise, including chronic climate change variables (e.g. temperature, precipitation, sea level rise) and extreme weather events such as bushfires. The results of these analyses were presented as a set of summary heatmaps, and a similar exercise for transition risk was conducted alongside Acclimatise’s physical heatmapping workstream.

As noted in Macquarie’s report, the Acclimatise HeatMapR outputs provide a strategic tool to identify potential areas of their holdings where more detailed analysis is needed; heatmapping can also be used to guide further analysis and investment decision making. The findings of the heatmapping exercise for physical climate risks show that most severe impacts are expected to occur after 2050, but also that climate vulnerabilities are different across sectors and sub-sectors and in particularly are highly dependent on the country of exposure.

Thorough its climate risk heatmapping and scenario analysis, Macquarie determined that physical and transition risks present in its holdings were not considered to be material. Reasons for this include the fact that the firm  has a sufficiently diverse portfolio, and the their exposures to counterparties at risk are short term, as compared to the time scenarios examined. Finally, the exercises revelated that Macquarie has  limited lending exposure to risky sectors.

Over the course of 2020 and beyond, Macquarie will continue implementing its guidelines on climate risk governance and continue to refine and embed climate change considerations within its existing risk management frameworks. In particular, it aims to continue refining scenario analysis and to further integrate these exercises into their existing risk procedures and stress testing. In addition, it also aims to assess the resilience of its business premises to physical climate risks in the coming year.

Click here to access Macquarie’s full report.

* scenarios are warming scenarios by 2100, above and a warming by 2100, relative to pre‐industrial levels.


Harnessing the knowledge of indigenous communities for DRR

Harnessing the knowledge of indigenous communities for DRR

By Rohit Jigyasu

Indigenous peoples know a lot about disaster risk. They have learned to read the signs in the sea, the skies and wildlife to predict hazards. Direct experience with disasters has taught many communities the duration, location, time, frequency, intensity, predictability, onset and possible behaviour of the hazards linked to these events. Traditional knowledge for disaster risk reduction lies in the accumulated experience that comes with the close relationship of indigenous communities to their environment, formed through successive trials and errors over generations.

Early warning

Take the case of Moken, a tribe of nomads living in the southern seas of Thailand and Myanmar. They spend at least eight months a year at sea, bartering fish and shells for rice and fuel. They tell the ‘legend of the seven waves’, which serves to perpetuate traditional knowledge of tsunamis. When the tsunami struck the coast of Thailand on 26 December 2004, they drew on this knowledge to warn tourists and others of the oncoming wave.  Similarly, the local knowledge of the indigenous tribes of Andaman Islands taught them that if the sea starts to recede, then they should also recede. This knowledge was instrumental in saving their lives, while many tourists drowned as they moved towards the receding sea.

In the Kutch region of Gujarat, I came across local knowledge on the prediction of drought based on the direction of winds. Farmers change their cropping pattern according to their predictions, based on this knowledge.

Originating from within the community, such a knowledge is passed on informally through narratives that remain in the collective conscience of the communities. The story of the Japanese village of Hiromura, struck by an earthquake in 1854 provided valuable lessons that continue to guide new generations of Japanese. A villager noticed that the well had run dry and alerted the village leader. Shortly after, a devastating earthquake struck. The leader realised that a tsunami would strike the coast and guided the villagers to higher ground. Following this event, the villagers built an embankment that has protected the village ever since, including when the Showa Nankai earthquake triggered a four-metre tsunami; the area protected by the embankment was undamaged. Japanese government continues to use this story to spread awareness of the need for preparedness against tsunamis.

Traditional technologies and construction practices

Likewise, traditional technologies and construction practices often reflect adaptations to the environmental conditions, to manage local hazards using local materials. There are many examples of survival of traditional buildings during disasters caused by earthquakes, floods, cyclones and other hazards thanks to the traditional knowledge embedded in them. During the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, typical bhunga dwellings of the local Banni tribe in the Kutch region in India survived remarkably well because of their design and construction technology, while many new constructions collapsed.

Typical bhunga dwellings of the local Banni tribe
Typical bhunga dwellings of the local Banni tribe in the Kutch region. Photo: Rohit Jigyasu

Social structures

Indigenous social, economic and institutional coping skills and capacities are also inherent part of the traditional knowledge systems. In every society, there are various internal social structures that help individuals and families through difficult periods. These coping mechanisms become collective instruments for organizing action on behalf of victims for disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Following the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, local communities came together to volunteer to save traditional windows from their damaged houses, repair small shrines and community buildings (Guthis) and restart rituals and festivals such as Macchendranath Yatra., even though the communities had lost their shelter and livelihoods. 

Similarly, the 2011 tsunami in Japan almost completely swept away the Shizugawa town in Minamisanriku cho. However, the main hall of the local Kaminoyama Hachimangu Shrine survived the disaster due to its location on higher ground. The shrine, through its priest, acted as the local anchor for affected communities. People got together for psychosocial support and to share community views on recovery and reconstruction. Reinstatement of rituals, festivals and crafts within a few weeks of the disaster served as the means for mutual support among community members.

The local priest of Kaminoyama Hachimangu shrine in Minaminsanriku organized many activities to bring together communities displaced after the Tsunami following Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. Photo: Rohit Jigyasu

Driving innovation

Considerable research and publications exist on traditional knowledge for disaster risk reduction. However, there are much fewer practical examples that demonstrate to policy makers and practitioners the needs and perceptions of the people and how to harness this knowledge in the present social, economic and institutional context.  Traditional knowledge has always evolved in response to change. Experimentation and innovation are critical to ensure its continuity and relevance in present context. For example, during the 2001 Gujarat earthquake reconstruction, traditional artisans participated in developing innovative solutions for constructing vernacular Bhunga structures by replacing bamboo used in traditional wattle and daub structures with steel wires as the former was getting harder to find than before. In Japan, effective use of traditional social networks and management systems are common for fire prevention, including maintenance of water hydrants, regular monitoring and awareness raising.

New guidance under development

The Sendai Framework calls for governments to employ a people-centred approach and engage directly with indigenous peoples in the design and implementation of policies, plans and standards, and to use traditional, indigenous and local knowledge and practices to complement scientific knowledge in disaster risk assessments. To provide practical guidance to countries and practitioners, UNDRR in collaboration with ICCROM[1] is developing a Words into Action guide on ‘using traditional knowledge for disaster risk reduction’. The guidance will focus on identifying, documenting and adapting traditional knowledge for the development of polices, programmes and innovative projects.

The world has a lot to learn from indigenous peoples.  Let us make sure we make full use of traditional knowledge to mitigate, adapt, prepare and respond to disaster risks. 


This article was posted on PreventionWeb.
Cover photo from Wikimedia Commons.
UCCRTF supports a water resources study for New Clark City

UCCRTF supports a water resources study for New Clark City

New Clark City (NCC), an upcoming mixed-use township managed by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), is being developed with the vision of becoming a leading example of an environmentally sustainable, smart, and disaster-resilient city.

To realize this ambition, efficient and sustainable use of water resources is key. To this end, a Water Resources Study was prepared with the main objective of assessing groundwater and surface water availability within and near NCC.

The study, conducted by the Geoscience Foundation Inc. for BCDA, will feed into resource planning that will ensure there is sufficient water to serve NCC, which has an area of approximately 9,450 hectares and is located about 120 kilometers (km) north of Manila.

Sustainability is at the heart of the study. It proposes that NCC makes use of groundwater, surface water, and other water sources like reservoirs, wastewater recycling, and rainwater harvesting, to avoid resource depletion. The use of surface water, in particular, will ensure that deep aquifers are not exhausted, and resources can be sustainably maintained.

The study, supported by the Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF), is linked to the ADB Transaction Advisory Services of the Office of Public-Private Partnership for NCC, which looks at the structuring and tendering of infrastructure packages. In 2017 to 2018, UCCRTF financed – through the request of BCDA – the review of the NCC master plan, conduct of the River Study and recommendations, and the development of the Resilience Framework.

Climate change is also a major consideration in the study, as climate projections indicate a 10% increase in precipitation levels during rainy season and a 10% decrease during the dry season by 2036. Enough water should be stored in water tanks and reservoirs during the rainy season so that this can be used in the summer or dry season.

NCC_Water_Drilling_edited.png
Image: Well drilling near NNC.
Credit: Marie Grace Patadlas, ADB Consultant

The two major rivers of NCC

The two major rivers in the NCC are the Cutcut and Bangot Rivers. The Bangot River is situated at the northern edge of NCC and is a tributary of the O’Donnell River. The confluence with the O’Donnell River is located about 1 km north from the Philippine Army Camp. To ensure the sustainable use of the Bangot and Cutcut Rivers, a water resources monitoring program will be established through the installation of depth gauge meters that will track changes in the river flows.

Based on the study, the water quality for the two rivers were found to be satisfactory and well within the prescribed limits even for Class AA water quality guidelines for drinking water supply. However, primary treatment, including disinfection, is required for the water to be distributed for drinking. Once this is developed, these rivers can produce about 32 million liters per day, which is sufficient for a medium-sized city.

Water rights for the two rivers were also applied with the National Water Resources Board on behalf of BCDA and are awaiting deliberations. The results of the study were incorporated into the “NCC 50-year Water Resources Masterplan”, the roadmap for NCC’s resilient water supply system. The plan is seen to be financially viable and is expected to yield economic benefits through increased water usage efficiency and greater equity in access to water, without comprising environmental sustainability and ensuring water availability for future usage.

Presenting the study to stakeholders

​On water reuse, the study indicated that this will only be suitable for non-potable uses such as for agriculture, aquifer recharge, aquaculture, firefighting, flushing of toilets, industrial cooling, parks and golf course watering, formation of wetlands for wildlife habitats, and recreational impoundments. As an alternative water source, the O’Donnell River is also being considered in case the use of Bangot River is not feasible. This will form part of the water development plan for NCC’s main water source in future phases.

As for wastewater management, the study recognizes that constructed wetlands and ponds through a series of bio-retention and bio-remediation systems will help reduce and control the amount of pollutants – such as fertilizers, pesticides, and sediment – that enter the waterways from open space run-off. A centralized sewerage treatment plant is being planned for NCC, and it will service the main development areas covering the National Government Administrative Center and the area handled by real estate firm Filinvest Land. However, given that the construction of the plant may take up to three years, the use of modular treatment plants, which can be immediately installed and can easily be expanded, will be considered as an interim solution.

​Further review, vetting, and discussions with BCDA need to be made to align the recommendations with the NCC master plan given that there are ongoing developments in the area. Specifically, BCDA, locators, and water concessionaire need to discuss and establish projections that will shape the longer-term water policies and water infrastructure projects in the NCC.


This article was originally posted on the ADB’s Livable Cities blog site.
Cover photo by patrickroque01 / WikimediaCommons / CC by 4.0
Financing increased for early warning systems in Small Island Developing States

Financing increased for early warning systems in Small Island Developing States

Key nations have announced US$ 4.8 million in funding for the delivery of early warning systems and services to reduce loss of life from severe weather events in the Pacific region. The announcement was made 10 June 2020 during the 11th Steering Committee Meeting of the Climate Risk & Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative by its Member States, the governments of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The CREWS initiative was established in 2015 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) as a financial mechanism to save lives and livelihoods through the expansion of early warning systems and services in Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States. Its three Implementing Partners are the World Meteorological Organization, the World Bank Group / Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Filipe Lucio of WMO indicated at the meeting that the funds would allow the island countries in the region to detect, monitor and forecast severe high-impact weather events. Additional services to be developed include access to longer-term seasonal predictions and operational early warning and response plans that ensure the most vulnerable people in the communities receive warnings.

CREWS Member States also approved the allocation of funds to support countries to monitor the effectiveness of their national early warning systems. Additionally, the preparations of another US$ 4 million project, covering the South West Indian Ocean that includes the countries of Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique and Seychelles was initiated for funding in the near future.

To date, the CREWS Trust Fund has delivered over US$ 43 million in project funding and mobilized an additional US$ 270 million from public funds of other development partners – realizing accelerated life-saving action and maximized finance effectiveness.

In 2019, CREWS support was scaled up to 44 least developed countries and small island developing states. Through this work, more than 10 million people in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities now have access to better early warning services.

  • In Afghanistan, 3D printers are being used to build automatic weather stations, bringing early warning services to rural communities.
  • In Burkina Faso, more than 1,100 rural farmers received 130 weather forecasts in 2019, broadcast via local radio stations.
  • In Fiji, nearly one million people now have advance flash flood warnings, creating increased security and saving lives.
  • In Niger, more than 600 women were trained in early warning services and have now created women-led WhatsApp groups to amplify advance warnings throughout their communities.
  • Across the Caribbean, national emergency management offices, national hydromet offices, national gender bureaux, sectorial ministries, and non-governmental groups including women organizations are now working together to bridge the gender divide in access to early warning systems.

This article was accessed via PreventionWeb. Read the original article here.
Cover photo of Fiji highway from Pexels.
With construction paused, let’s rethink roads and railway projects to protect people and nature

With construction paused, let’s rethink roads and railway projects to protect people and nature

By Charis Enns, Alex Awiti, and Brock Bersaglio

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta fumed at construction delays on the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor in 2019 – a US$22 billion (£18 billion) transport network that includes a 32-berth port, highways, railways and pipelines. But these delays, caused by financing gaps, afforded fishers, pastoral farmers and conservationists time to challenge the project in court, and push for amended plans that better protect local habitats and migratory routes used by people, livestock and wildlife.

While major road and rail projects often break up wilderness and grazing lands, a sudden pause in construction can offer a lifeline to people fighting to protect these areas.

Lockdown restrictions and the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 have made sourcing labour and materials more difficult, increasing construction costs. The result is that infrastructure building has slowed globally, creating a unique opportunity to redesign road and rail projects around the world so that they benefit the people and environments they share the landscape with.

Barriers to travel

Dozens of new roads, railways and pipelines are under construction in sub-Saharan Africa due to a surge in investment in recent years. Although they are promised to bolster economic growth, our research shows that many of these new mega-highways and high-speed rail lines were approved without meaningful consultation between planners and local people. As a result, they tend to become new barriers that are difficult and dangerous to traverse, forcing people to travel long distances to reach safe crossing points.

In dry regions, this can make it difficult to reach vital water sources. Amid farmland and forests, construction can push people from their land or force them to travel further to reach it. Deforestation usually comes before construction too, which encourages people to migrate further into woodland, building new settlements that drive more forest clearing.

Forest is cleared to make way for road construction in central Tanzania. Charis Enns, Author provided

Poorly designed roads and rail lines can take a heavy toll on human and animal life. During our research between 2017 and 2019, we found too few safe crossing points, inadequate signage and lax speed enforcement along new highways and railways in Kenya and Tanzania, resulting in numerous road accidents.

Conservationists are particularly worried by growing roadkill sightings along a new highway in northern Kenya. Endemic and endangered species like the Grevy’s zebra are often killed in collisions with cars and lorries after wandering onto roads that now criss-cross their range. As one pastoral farmer living alongside the new highway exclaimed

How many animals have died? Uncountable.

The alternative

Fortunately, there are lots of proven strategies for preventing transport projects from fragmenting habitats, such as building passages across new highways and railways that migratory species can use. Repairing environmental damage caused by construction, by filling in quarries that produce construction materials, for example, can also help restore grazing land for livestock and wildlife.

One of many quarries dug during construction of the Central Corridor in Tanzania. Brock Bersaglio, Author provided

The Mongu-Kalabo road constructed over the Barotse floodplain in western Zambia shows these ideas in action. Completed in 2016, the road was built with 26 bridges over the floodplains and regular culverts between bridges, allowing water and wildlife to move across the floodplain without impeding road traffic and trade, even during seasonal floods.

The road was also planned with local cultures in mind. Wetland livelihoods, such as fishing and floodplain farming, aren’t affected by the road since the regular movement of fish and water remains largely undisturbed. By maintaining these flows across the floodplain, cultural traditions have been protected. The annual Kuomboka ceremony that takes place at the end of the rainy season can continue, when the Litunda (king of the Lozi people) moves from his compound in the Barotse floodplain to higher ground.

A bridge in the Mongu-Kalabo road, built over the Barotse floodplain in western Zambia. Charis Enns, Author provided

There is no single blueprint for building roads and railways that allow humans and nature to thrive. Wherever construction is planned, public participation is vital. Gathering the knowledge local people have of their environment can improve the design of these projects, but this insight cannot come from rushed consultations or impact assessments conducted from a distance. Only meaningful and ongoing engagement with local communities and environmental authorities will do.

Major infrastructure investment will likely be key to pulling the global economy out of recession. The opportunity to mould upcoming projects won’t last forever, so let’s ensure any new road and rail project is designed with respect to the rights of people and nature.


This article was originally posted on The Conversation.
Cover photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash.
Finding solutions in nature for climate change

Finding solutions in nature for climate change

By Xiaoting Hou Jones

On the International Day of Biological Diversity, IIED hosted a multi-stakeholder webinar on how to work with nature to mitigate and adapt to climate change and halt biodiversity loss. IIED senior researcher Xiaoting Hou Jones chaired the event, and here she shares some highlights from the discussions.

Two men pushing a boat filled with mangrove seedlings
Restoring mangroves in Mexico: biodiverse marine ecosystems such as mangroves and seagrass beds provide food and income for local people and protect against erosion and storm surges. (Photo: Andrea Stone, USAID/ECAM via FlickrCC BY-NC 2.0)

One key message from the webinar was the urgent need to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss together.

Alex White, team leader for International Climate and Strategy at the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), summed up the urgent need. He said: “We need to develop approaches that reflect the complexity and scale of the challenges and work for climate, nature and people. Nature-based solutions (NbS) are part of the solution.”

This resonates strongly with the increasing global support from scientists, governments, private sector and civil society for integrated solutions such as NbS for climate change

The discussions also pointed to the multiple social, environmental, and economic benefits provided by NbS to climate change. A wide range of stakeholders, especially vulnerable local communities, can enjoy the benefits of NbS, making these solutions more attractive than their grey infrastructure counterparts.  

Watch a full recording of the webinar above and on IIED’s YouTube channel 

Mobilising finance for NbS for climate change 

Innovative financing to get money where it matters is one of the most important building blocks for NbS. Chip Cunliffe, sustainable development director for multinational insurance company AXA XL, highlighted the need for blended finance from public and private sectors. He said: “It is key that we start to build the right narrative that highlights the values of natural capital to engage possible investors and try to drive down existing barriers for financing NbS at scale.”

Cunliffe established and manages AXA XL’s Ocean Risk Initiative. AXA XL co-chairs the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance, a multi-sector collaboration designed to drive 500 million dollars investment in NbS in coastal regions by 2030.

Alliance partners are piloting innovative finance products to fund NbS at scale. These include blue carbon credits; resilience credits that allow companies to invest in restoration and conservation to reduce climate risks; corporate bonds where corporates can borrow money to manage and maintain natural capital while providing benefits for biodiversity and local communities; and insurance products that explicitly integrate natural capital and incentivise working with nature to mitigate climate risks. 

Participants also shared other financing models and emphasised the importance of finance reaching local communities, which are bearing the brunt of climate change impacts and are key for implementing NbS. Examples include: educating consumers and creating demand for diverse eco-friendly products, leveraging forest carbon market to support local communities to sustainably manage forests in Tanzania, and utilising lottery funds to mobilise local communities to implement NbS in the city of Bath in England. 

A word cloud

Click on the word cloud above to expand it. We asked participants to pick up to three words that capture the most important building blocks for translating global ambitions for nature-based solutions for climate change into effective local actions (Image: IIED)

Indigenous peoples and local communities in the driving seat

Indigenous communities around the world have been working with nature to adapt to changes for hundreds of years and are effective  stewards of biodiversity and natural carbon sinks such as forests. Musonda Kapena, CEO of the Zambia National Forest Commodities Association (ZNFCA), said indigenous knowledge systems can provide useful lessons on how to effectively design and implement NbS. ZNFCA has been working with traditional leaders in Zambia to mobilise communities at landscape scale to sustainably produce a wide variety of forest and agriculture products.  

ZNFCA is one of many forest farm producer organisations around the world supported by the Forest and Farm Facility, a partnership between FAO, IUCN, IIED and Agricord. Producers’ organisations such as ZNFCA can mobilise 1.5 million smallholder producers at scale, to drive a paradigm shift away from large-scale monoculture production systems that are vulnerable to climate change.

In supporting local communities working with nature to build more resilient local economy, these locally placed organisations can also support its members to respond and recover from COVID-19 and climate-related risks. 

Webinar participants highlighted the importance of building local capacity to access finance, communicate and share knowledge in ways that capture benefits that matter to local communities, and to ensure secure land and natural resource use rights for indigenous peoples and local communities. Participants shared examples of how they work with local communities to champion NbS around the world, including in ScotlandMaliBermuda and Latin America

Increasing global ambitions to build back better from COVID-19 

Many participants pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought sharp focus on societal vulnerability to systemic and multidimensional risks such as climate change and biodiversity loss. To build back a more resilient society, governments need to ensure global recovery responses tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and protect the most vulnerable. 

Sarah Nelson, head of policy oversight in the international environmental conventions team in DEFRA, highlighted the UK government’s efforts to increase the focus on the interlinkages of nature and climate and push for global ambitions for a green recovery. She said: “Nature will be one of the key themes for COP26 hosted by the UK government. The UK government recognises to achieve success either on tackling climate change or biodiversity loss, we have to tackle both simultaneously.” 

Nelson, who is leading on UK government’s nature theme for the next UN climate summit, said it recognises the important role NbS can play in building back better from COVID-19 (paywalled article). She said that in the lead-up to COP26, the UK aims to develop a ‘nature action pledge’, enabling countries to pledge concrete actions on nature and climate, providing a clear bridge between climate and biodiversity conventions. 

Another immediate opportunity to increase global ambitions on NbS is the post-2020 biodiversity framework, currently being negotiated by parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Speakers called for close engagement with local communities and the finance sector in developing the framework and ensuring effective implementation mechanisms that can mobilise actions to achieve targets. 

“We all need to act!” urged Musonda. As participants from all over the world representing private sector, NGO, communities, government and academia shared inspiring examples and called for close collaboration across sectors and countries, I left the webinar feeling hopeful and inspired for a future where integrated solutions like NbS is the norm rather than the exception. 


This article was originally posted on the IIED website. It has been reposted with permission.
Cover photo by Srecko Skrobic on Unsplash