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Africa is paving the way to a climate-resilient future
Photo credit: Flickr
Since the presentation of the World Bank’s first Africa Climate Business Plan at the COP 21 in Paris in 2015 and the Transport Chapter in Marrakech in 2016, a lot of progress has been made on integrating climate adaptation and mitigation into our transport projects.
The World Bank initially committed about $3.2 billion toward mainstreaming climate action into transport programs in Sub-Saharan Africa in the form of infrastructure investments and technical assistance. Following the Paris Agreement, and building on African countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the size of this portfolio grew to $5 billion for 2016 to 2020. In 2017, the institution added another $1.9 billion to that amount, bringing the total to $6.9 billion in projects with climate co-benefits— more than twice the size of the original portfolio. These investments will help improve the resilience of transport infrastructure to climate change and improve the carbon footprint of transport systems.
Climate change has already started to affect African countries’ efforts to provide better transport services to their citizens. African transport systems are vulnerable to multiple types of climate impact: sea level rise and storm surge, higher frequency and intensity of extreme wind and storm events, increased precipitation intensity, extreme heat and fire hazard, overall warming, and change in average precipitation patterns. The increased frequency and intensity of extreme climate event challenges the year-round availability of critical transport services: roads are damaged more often or are more costly to maintain; expensive infrastructure assets such as ports, railways or airports can be damaged by storms and storm surges, resulting in a short life cycle and capacity than they were originally designed for. Critical infrastructure such as bridges continue to be built based on data and disaster risk patterns from decades ago, ignoring the current trend of increased climate risk. For Sub-Saharan Africa alone, it is estimated that climate change will threaten to increase road maintenance costs by 270% if no action is taken.
Since the adoption of the first concept of the Africa Climate Business Plan, several success stories have demonstrated how the World Bank is continuing to standardize the approach to accounting for climate finance in its projects and define the contribution each project is making to the reduction in GHG emissions. The move will lead to more uniform reporting of mitigation and adaptation co-benefits, particularly as explicit inclusion of climate-smart measures becomes more common in World Bank-financed operations.
In the Central African Republic, for instance, a new project to upgrade rural roads has been developed to take climate change into consideration through every step, from infrastructure design to road construction works and maintenance arrangements. This long-term, climate-smart approach is expected to improve the durability of road improvements by a significant margin. A community-based maintenance system will make a particularly important contribution to the climate resilience of the targeted roads.
Another example of how the World Bank has successfully assisted African governments in incorporating climate adaptation and mitigation into project design is the $300 million Dakar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) pilot project which was approved by the World Bank in 2017. The project design includes the construction of 18.3 kilometers of fully segregated bus lanes in Dakar, build or provide terminals, metro-style stations, bus fleets, and intelligent transportation systems (ITS), improve access for pedestrians, better integrate the system into the urban environment, and restructure the public transit network.
The project is expected to reduce long-term greenhouse gas emission by 1.5 million tons of CO2 emissions equivalent by shifting riders from older buses to new, efficient, high-quality buses and by adopting a holistic, integrated land use and transport planning policy.
For the people of Dakar, the project will increase access to public transit services, reduce travel time, and improve comfort and safety. For public transit users within a one-hour radius, it will increase access to employment opportunities by 7%. By 2020, two-thirds of the population will have access to at least 8,000 more job opportunities than they do today. The increase will disproportionately benefit poorer areas in the northern suburbs, where access to more than 120,000 employment opportunities will be made possible.
This pilot project is included in Senegal’s Nationally Determined Contribution and can easily be expanded or replicated in other African cities facing the same mobility challenges as Dakar. The project is the backbone of an ambitious and comprehensive strategy for sustainable urban mobility and low-emission transport modes. It is included in the Emerging Senegal Plan, the government’s plan to make Senegal an emerging economy by 2035.
The road connectivity program in the Central African Republic and the Dakar BRT are among many projects that demonstrate how interventions looking to improve mobility, boost economic growth, and create jobs can also deliver significant climate co-benefits. This is at the core of the World Bank’s approach to sustainable development: our work is based on the premise that socioeconomic gains and climate action shouldn’t be seen as conflicting interests, and instead can reinforce each other. With the expected surge in urbanization and infrastructure investment across Africa, the region has a unique opportunity to grow in a way that is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable. The World Bank’s Africa Transport team stands ready to support these efforts and develop innovative solutions that will help turn this vision into reality.
Gomez-Baggethun: Assessing the Potential of Regulating Ecosystem Services as Nature-Based Solutions in Urban Area
Abstract: Mounting research assesses the provision of regulating ecosystem services by green infrastructure in urban areas, but the extent to which these services can offer effective nature-based solutions for addressing urban climate change-related challenges is rarely considered. In this chapter, we synthesize knowledge from assessments of urban green infrastructure carried out in Europe and beyond to evaluate the potential contribution of regulating ecosystem services to offset carbon emissions, reduce heat stress and abate air pollution at the metropolitan, city and site scales. Results from this review indicate that the potential of regulating ecosystem services provided by urban green infrastructure to counteract these three climate change-related pressures is often limited and/or uncertain, especially at the city and metropolitan levels. However, their contribution can have a substantially higher impact at site scales such as in street canyons and around green spaces. We note that if regulating ecosystem services are to offer effective nature-based solutions in urban areas, it is critically important that green infrastructure policies target the relevant implementation scale. This calls for a coordination between authorities dealing with urban and environmental policy and for the harmonization of planning and management instruments in a multilevel governance approach.
Keywords: Regulating ecosystem services; Urban green infrastructure; Global climate regulation; Local climate regulation; Air quality regulation; Multi-scale assessment
"This open access book brings together research findings and experiences from science, policy and practice to highlight and debate the importance of nature-based solutions to climate change adaptation in urban areas. Emphasis is given to the potential of nature-based approaches to create multiple-benefits for society. The expert contributions present recommendations for creating synergies between ongoing policy processes, scientific programmes and practical implementation of climate change and nature conservation measures in global urban areas".
Courting Catastrophe? Humanitarian Policy and Practice in a Changing Climate
Humanitarian crises appear dramatic, overwhelming and sudden, with aid required immediately to save lives. Whereas climate change is about changing hazard patterns and crises are in reality rarely unexpected, with academic researchers and humanitarian and development organisations warning about possible risks for months before they take place.
While humanitarian organisations deal directly with vulnerable populations, interventions are part of global politics and development pathways that are simultaneously generating climate change, inequities and vulnerability. So what is the level of convergence between humanitarian interventions and efforts to support adaptation to climate change, and what lessons can be drawn from current experience on the prospects for reducing the risk of climate change causing increased burdens on humanitarian interventions in the future?
This IDS Bulletin is a call for increasing engagement between humanitarian aid and adaptation interventions to support deliberate transformation of development pathways. Based on studies from the ‘Courting Catastrophe’ project, contributors argue that humanitarian interventions offer opportunities for a common agenda to drive transformational adaptation. Changes in political and financial frameworks are needed to facilitate longer-term actions where demands move from delivering expert advice and solutions to vulnerable populations to taking up multiple vulnerability knowledges and making space for contestation of current development thinking. Yet while the humanitarian system could drive transformative adaptation, it should not bear responsibility alone. In this issue, alternative pathways and practical ways to support local alternatives and critical debates around these are illustrated, to demonstrate where humanitarian actions can most usefully contribute to transformation.
Supporting governance for climate resilience: working with political institutions
Political institutions, formal or informal, embody the underlying rules and norms within which organisations such as governments, NGOs or companies, operate (North, 1990) and play a defining role in how people and organisations respond to climate-related shocks and stresses. Democratic relations between national and local government, for example, influence capacities for quick response in an emergency, and these responses can in turn affect economic prosperity, competitiveness, livelihoods and well-being. Governance provides us with a broad term for understanding the institutions working across the state, market and civil society. This working paper identifies an agenda for research and practice to create governance that can support human resilience to multiple shocks and stresses.
UN SSE responds to call for stock exchanges to help implement FSB climate-related financial disclosure recommendations
With the release of the Financial Stability Board’s (FSB) Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations, the SSE Model Guidance on Reporting ESG Information has been updated, encouraging exchanges to support its implementation and include it as a resource to educate issuers. To further support the work of the Task Force, exchanges can reference its recommendations in their own reporting guides, provide training, and directly engage issuers, investors and securities regulators.
The Task Force recommends that organizations provide climate-related financial disclosures in their mainstream annual financial filings. Therefore, they have called on stock exchanges, along with other organizations, to support the implementation of these recommendations.
Stock exchanges are strategically placed to promote more sustainable capital markets that generate long-term value. Exchanges that promote transparency and high quality reporting, which include Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors, are helping market participants to understand important drivers of value creation.
Climate is increasingly recognised as a critical issue for investors and issuers alike. The TCFD recommendations recognize the challenges associated with measuring the impact of climate change, but “believes that by moving climate-related issues into mainstream annual financial filings, practices and techniques will evolve more rapidly.” Providing voluntary guidance to issuers on reporting climate-relevant financial disclosures can be a direct and influential opportunity for exchanges to facilitate effective corporate communication, without increasing the regulatory burden on issuers.
With the recent release of the TCFD recommendations, companies now have a common financial language for communicating on climate-related issues with investors. The PRI recently published a series of country-level climate disclosure reviews with the global law firm Baker McKenzie, covering Brazil, Canada, the EU, Japan and the UK. The reviews find that in all markets covered, the TCFD recommendations would assist materially in implementing existing regulation and guidance for investors and companies.
The Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative has been actively working with stock exchanges globally to ensure all markets provide consistent guidance to issuers on reporting ESG information to investors. The SSE’s Model Guidance is a template that exchanges are using to develop customised guidance for their market. Since the release of the Model Guidance the number of stock exchanges producing their own ESG guide has more than doubled.
Any exchange interested in creating a new reporting guide or updating an existing guide is encouraged to reach out to the SSE initiative.
Views on the FSB TCFD recommendations
“We welcome the report recommendations as they will help establish a valuable framework for investors to understand how the companies in their portfolios are transitioning to a two degrees world. In the past, investors have not had access to this data so the report is a real game-changer for them in terms of being able to more efficiently manage the risks in their portfolios. The PRI will be actively engaging its members on the suggested guidelines, which we also expect them to follow, and, beginning next year, we will be aligning our reporting & assessment framework to the recommendations.” - Fiona Reynolds, Managing Director, Principles for Responsible Investment
“Without a good understanding of how your company is addressing issues related to climate change, investors would be unable to develop a positive view of you.” - Lian Sim Yeo, Special Adviser, Singapore Stock Exchange
“There is no greater risk to society than not tackling climate change – a central element of sustainability. That’s why at Aviva we actively consider climate risks and their potential impact on investors. It’s why we have taken the lead in engaging with companies and at the government level on the need to tackle climate change, including participating in the FSB TCFD. As a supporter of the SSE initiative since its inception in 2009 and chair of the SSE Investor Working Group, Aviva has been working with stock exchanges to enhance disclosure of ESG information for many years. With the launch of the TCFD recommendations, we commend the SSE for updating their own guidance, and encourage exchanges to support the implementation of the recommendations by including them in their own disclosure guidelines.” – Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer, Aviva Investors
“B3 welcomes the TCFD recommendations as it is aligned with our agenda by asking for consistent financial disclosures on material climate related risks and opportunities to be used by investors, lenders, insurers, and other stakeholders. We will include the recommendations in our next updated version of our Novo Valor guide and Gilson Finkelsztain, our CEO, has signed the statement of support and hope to see other business leaders to follow suit.” - Sonia Favaretto, Media Relations, Sustainability, Communications and Social Investment Managing Director for B3
“London Stock Exchange Group’s ESG Reporting Guidance advocates harmonisation of global standards for reporting. The Task Force’s recommendations give a big push to climate disclosure harmonization across jurisdictions, enabling both issuers and investors to report in a comparable way. We therefore call on all exchanges to incorporate the TCFD recommendations into their reporting guidance to help drive better and more consistent disclosure and data globally.” - David Harris, Group Head of Sustainable Business, London Stock Exchange Group
To see more statements of support convened by the TCFD see here.
From dry to wet: Rainfall might abruptly increase in Africa's Sahel
Climate change could turn one of Africa's driest regions into a very wet one by suddenly switching on a Monsoon circulation. For the first time, scientists find evidence in computer simulations for a possible abrupt change to heavy seasonal rainfall in the Sahel, a region that so far has been characterized by extreme dryness. They detect a self-amplifying mechanism which might kick-in beyond 1.5-2 degrees Celsius of global warming – which happens to be the limit for global temperature rise set in the Paris Climate Agreement. Although crossing this new tipping point is potentially beneficial, the change could be so big, it would be a major adaptation challenge for an already troubled region.
“More rain in a dry region can be good news,” says lead-author Jacob Schewe from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). “Climate change due to greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels really has the power to shake things up. It is driving risks for crop yields in many regions and generally increases dangerous weather extremes around the globe, yet in the dry Sahel there seems to be a chance that further warming might indeed enhance water availability for farming and grazing.” Co-author Anders Levermann from PIK and LDEO of New York’s Columbia University adds: “We don’t know what the impacts on the ground will be, this is beyond the scope of our study; but imagine the chance of a greening Sahel. Still, the sheer size of the possible change is mindboggling – this is one of the very few elements in the Earth system that we might witness tipping soon. Once the temperature approaches the threshold, the rainfall regime could shift within just a few years.”
Regions like the central parts of Mali, Niger, and Chad – which are practically part of the Sahara desert – could receive as much rainfall as is today registered in central Nigeria or northern Cameroon which boast a richly vegetated tropical climate.
A new tipping element in the climate system
Dozens of cutting-edge climate computer simulation systems indicate, on average, a weak wet trend for the Sahel under unabated climate change, so it is well known that there’ll likely be some more rain in the region in a warming world. The scientists now took a closer look at those simulations that show the greatest increase, plus 40 to plus 300 percent more rain, while others show only a mild increase or even slight decreases. They find that in these wet simulations, as the surrounding oceans warm, Sahel rainfall increases suddenly and substantially. During the same time the monsoon winds that blow from the Atlantic ocean to the continental interior get stronger and extend northwards. This is reminiscent of periods in earth’s history during which, according to paleoclimatic findings, African and Asian monsoon systems alternated between wet and dry, sometimes quite abruptly.
The scientists previously identified a self-amplifying mechanism behind the sudden rainfall changes. When the ocean surface temperature increases, more water is evaporated. The moist air drifts onto land, where the water is released. When water vapor turns into rain, heat gets released. This increases the temperature difference between the generally cooler ocean and the warmer landmasses, sucking more moist winds into the continent’s interior. This again will produce more rain, and so on. “Temperatures have to rise beyond a certain point to start this process,” explains Schewe. “We find that the threshold for this ‘Sahel monsoon’ is remarkably similar across different models. It seems to be a robust finding.”
Huge adaptation challenge for an already troubled region
“The enormous change that we might see would clearly pose a huge adaptation challenge to the Sahel,” says Levermann. “From Mauritania and Mali in the West to Sudan and Eritrea in the East, more than 100 million people are potentially affected that already now are confronted with a multifold of instabilities, including war. Particularly in the transition period between the dry climatic conditions of today and the conceivably much wetter conditions at the end of our century, the Sahel might experience years of hard-to-handle variability between drought and flood. Obviously, agriculture and infrastructure will have to meet this challenge. As great as it hopefully were for the dry Sahel to have so much more rain,” concludes Levermann, “the dimension of the change calls for urgent attention.”
Article: Jacob Schewe, Anders Levermann (2017): Non–linear intensification of Sahel rainfall as a possible dynamic response to future warming. Earth Syst. Dynam., 8, 495-505. [DOI: 10.5194/esd-8-495-2017]
Weblink to the article once it is published: http://www.earth-syst-dynam.net/8/495/2017/
Turning the Climate Tide by 2020
The world needs high-speed climate action for an immediate bending-down of the global greenhouse-gas emissions curve, leading experts caution. Aggressive reduction of fossil-fuel usage is the key to averting devastating heat extremes and unmanageable sea level rise, the authors argue in a comment published in the renowned scientific journal Nature this week. In the run-up to the G20 summit of the planet’s leading economies, the article sets six milestones for a clean industrial revolution. This call for strong short-term measures complements the longer-term 'carbon law' approach introduced earlier this year by some of the current co-authors, including the Potsdam Institute’s Director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, in the equally eminent journal Science. Thus a full narrative of deep decarbonization emerges.
“We stand at the doorway of being able to bend the GHG emissions curve downwards by 2020, as science demands, in protection of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and in particular the eradication of extreme poverty," Christiana Figueres says, lead-author of the Nature comment and former head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). "This monumental challenge coincides with an unprecedented openness to self-challenge on the part of sub-national governments inside the US, governments at all levels outside the US, and of the private sector in general. The opportunity given to us over the next three years is unique in history.” Figueres is the convener of Mission 2020, a broad-based campaign calling for urgent action now to make sure that carbon emissions begin an inexorable fall by 2020.
The authors and co-signatories to the Nature article comprise over 60 scientists, business and policy leaders, economists, analysts and influencers, including Gail Whiteman from Lancaster University; Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation; Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever plc; Anthony Hobley, Chief Executive of Carbon Tracker; Christian Rynning-Tønnesen, CEO of Statkraft; and Jonathan Bamber, President of the European Geosciences Union.
The great sustainability transformation
The authors are confident that both technological progress and political momentum have reached a point now that allows to kick-start the 'great sustainability transformation'. 2020 is crucial, because in that year the US will be legally able to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Even more compelling are the physics-based considerations, however: Recent research has demonstrated that keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius becomes almost infeasible if we delay climate action beyond 2020. And breaching the 2°C-line would be dangerous, since a number of Earth system tipping elements, such as the great ice sheets, may get destabilized in that hot-house.
“We have been blessed by a remarkably resilient planet over the past 100 years, able to absorb most of our climate abuse,” says Johan Rockström from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, co-author of the Nature comment and lead-author of the Science article. “Now we have reached the end of this era, and need to bend the global curve of emissions immediately, to avoid unmanageable outcomes for our modern world.”
Six milestones for 2020
Indeed, a social tipping point for the better is in sight, the experts show. Power generation from wind and solar is booming already. In Europe, for instance, more than three quarters of new energy capacities installed rely on those renewable sources. China is quickly establishing a national emissions trading scheme. Financial investors such as BlackRock in the US are growing wary of carbon risks.
The six milestones for 2020 as defined in the article reach from energy (pushing renewables to 30% of total energy supply and retiring all coal-fired power plants) to transport (electric vehicles making up 15% of new car sales globally, up from roughly 1% today) and finance (mobilize 1 trillion US dollars a year for climate action).
"The climate math is brutally clear: While the world can't be healed within the next few years, it may be fatally wounded by negligence until 2020," concludes Hans Joachim Schellnhuber from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, co-author of both the Nature comment and the Science article. Action by 2020 is necessary, but clearly not sufficient – it needs to set the course for halving CO2 emissions every other decade. In analogy to the legendary Moore’s Law, which states that computer processors double in power about every two years, the 'carbon law' can become a self-fulfilling prophecy mobilizing innovations and market forces, says Schellnhuber. “This will be unstoppable – yet only if we propel the world into action now.”
Article: Christiana Figueres, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Gail Whiteman, Johan Rockström, Anthony Hobley, Stefan Rahmstorf (2017): Three years to safeguard our climate. Nature [DOI: 10.1038/546593a]
Photo credit: Reuben Wu
The Whole Spectrum: A Holistic Approach to Climate Resilience
Climate change is a growing threat to global stability and national security. Decades of fossil fuel combustion and unsustainable land use have contributed to carbon dioxide levels in the planet’s atmosphere that are higher than in the past 4 million years. With so much carbon dioxide trapping heat in the atmosphere, the planet is getting warmer. Last year—2016—was the hottest year on record and seas around the world have already risen an average of nearly 3 inches. We are already experiencing increased impacts from extreme events, such as floods and drought: while it is difficult to attribute any one event to the broader phenomenon of climate change, Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines caused 6,100 deaths, displaced 4 million people, and damaged 1.1 million houses in 2013, with an estimated financial cost exceeding US$7 billion.
Climate change also magnifies existing risks to health and livelihoods, particularly in developing countries, which can drive refugee flows and conflict over basic resources, such as food and water. Poor people are more susceptible to climate-related diseases such as malaria and diarrhea. Higher food prices caused by climate-driven declines in agricultural productivity also threaten food security in poorer regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Absent climate-informed development policies, climate change could force more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030.
Addressing the global climate challenge requires a multifaceted and holistic approach, and DAI has been at the forefront of helping clients around the world reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Our approach works across the entire spectrum of climate change mitigation and adaptation, supporting countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas to develop and implement international and national policies that catalyze individual action, such as increasing microfinance for climate-smart farming in Kenya or improving water use efficiency in Thailand. We translate and communicate scientific evidence and atmospheric modelling to inform action-oriented development programming, and bridge hard climate science with local knowledge. We also help governments and the private sector meet their commitments to reduce their carbon footprint and green their supply chains.
In partnership with clients such as U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), DAI has translated policy into action through real-world solutions. Our experience has shown the following approaches to be critical:
1. Bridge science and local knowledge to help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change. Climate change is already causing shifts in agricultural planting seasons, fish migrations, and the timing and availability of critical water resources for drinking and irrigation. DAI is downscaling sophisticated climate modeling to help communities better plan for the future while integrating their local knowledge into the development and implementation of adaptation strategies.
Through the USAID-supported Mekong Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change project, for example, DAI facilitated community vulnerability assessments and the implementation of adaptation activities—such as water harvesting and the use of climate-smart rice varieties—that benefit 30,000 people in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. On the Coastal Community Adaptation Project, DAI supported local communities in 12 South Pacific Island nations to conduct climate change risk and asset mapping and then build climate-resilient infrastructure projects that benefit more than 20,000 islanders. DAI has also built adaptive capacity in environments as diverse as Indonesia, Kenya, and Nepal.
2. Expand climate-smart agriculture and catalyze finance for business models that reduce pressures on forests and land-based emissions. Agricultural production and land use conversion account for 24 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, which makes it critical to reduce slash-and-burn farming and lower the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of key global commodities such as palm oil, livestock, wood products, and rice. Changing practices requires establishing appropriate incentives along the entire value chain; DAI applies economic drivers to encourage better environmental stewardship that reduces pressure on forests and lowers greenhouse gas emissions.
Thanks to USAID’s ProParque project in Honduras, for example, eco-friendly fireplaces that run completely on sugar cane pulp rather than firewood have reduced production time by half—delivering both an economic and environmental benefit to local producers. On DFID’s Strengthening Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change in Kenya Plus project, DAI worked with microfinance institutions to increase investment in climate-smart dairy, cassava, maize, and sorghum value chains, which increases farmers’ resilience to drought and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Again, we have employed our approach—incentivizing sustainable agriculture and reducing deforestation—with positive results in various contexts, from Indonesia and the former Soviet Union to the Philippines, Bangladesh, Mozambique, and Liberia.
3. Drive investment in clean and renewable energy and energy-efficient technology to accelerate the transition to a green economy. Modern energy services are crucial to human well-being and to a country’s economic development, yet 1.2 billion people are without access to electricity and 2.7 billion rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking, which is associated with approximately 3.5 million deaths annually from indoor air pollution. In more developed countries, outdated and inefficient systems that burn fossil fuels contribute to high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. DAI’s approach is to drive investment in clean and renewable energy and energy-efficient technology by removing barriers to investment and collaborating with governments and the private sector to create the enabling conditions for clean energy to flourish.
On EBRD-funded sustainable energy financing programs in Poland and Morocco, DAI provided technical assistance to credit facilities focused on financing energy efficiency and small-scale renewable energy investments worth €270 million. The Polish program achieved energy savings of 166.4 GWh/year and avoided carbon dioxide emissions of more than 100,000 tons/year. DAI has catalyzed finance for clean energy and energy efficiency in Honduras, Kenya, Somalia, and elsewhere.
4. Move communities beyond subsistence and create safety nets that build household resilience to shocks and extreme events. Insurance company Swiss RE estimates that total economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2016 was $158 billion, with approximately 10,000 people losing their lives. Climate change increases the risk of weather-related extreme events—such as droughts, cyclones, and floods—which disproportionately harm the most vulnerable communities, such as those in Africa’s Sahel region. DAI takes a holistic approach to increasing resilience by helping communities move beyond subsistence and reinforcing the base of economic, social, and environmental resources required for communities to recover from disasters and help them break out of the cycle of poverty.
In northeast Kenya, for instance, we are managing a cash transfer program that scales up financial assistance from a base of 100,000 households to up to 375,000 households when the first signs of drought occur. Building household resilience to climate change is a feature of our work in Honduras and elsewhere in Central America, for example, as well as on a global basis.
5. Enable local-to-global access to climate and weather data that informs decision making and thereby reduces risk. Climate change science backed by data from satellites and other sources continues to enhance our understanding of changes in precipitation, temperature, droughts, and other environmental phenomena. With this increase in data comes an equally crucial need for timely and reliable transfer of knowledge on climate and weather to inform decision making around issues such as flood evacuations, hydropower operations, and agriculture planting windows. DAI is a leader in translating and communicating climate data, and packaging it for high-level and grassroots decision makers.
Through the SERVIR Demand Activity, for example, DAI inventoried climate decision support products, identified gaps in services and market demand, and worked with USAID and NASA to design products to “link space to village.” On the Regional Climate Change Program in Central America, DAI created a climate information platform—CentroClima—where regional leaders and other stakeholders access climate change data and decision support tools to make more informed adaptation decisions. Through CentroClima, DAI also helped develop the Coffee Cloud app, which connects decision makers around daily and seasonal forecasting for coffee crops, and reports outbreaks of diseases such as rust that affect coffee beans. In Indonesia, the APIK program (Adaptasi Perubahan Iklim dan Ketangguhan, or Climate Change Adaption and Resilience) is also collaborating with Indonesia’s Agency for Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics to improve public understanding and dissemination of weather data, including flood alerts.
Securing Our Future Together. Significant progress has been made over the past decade to raise global awareness, shift mindsets, and begin to tackle in a pragmatic way the complex problems—environmental, economic, agricultural, health- and security-related—that together constitute the global climate challenge. DAI’s practical experience supporting government, private sector, civil society, and community partners in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing resilience has contributed to a broader understanding of the complexities of climate change and its impact on people and their environment. If we are to rise to the threat of climate change, we will need to make continued progress on multiple fronts—from science and policy to mitigation and adaptation actions—and we will have to do so on a global and collective basis, from national and international government bodies to individual citizens. The stakes are too high for anything less.
As DAI’s Global Practice Leader for Environment and Climate Change,Jonathan Randall leads business development, technical assistance, and project management with a focus on climate change, environment, natural resource management, and water resources.
Global CEOs Call for Greater Disclosure of Climate Risks
- Heads of major global businesses urge G20 nations to formally accept and act on the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure, chaired by Michael Bloomberg
- The business leaders, convened by the World Economic Forum, argue that companies should disclose the material financial risks they face from climate change in an open message to the G20
- They say this is critical in delivering the Paris Agreement and the stability of financial markets
- The statement with signatories is available here and http://wef.ch/environment
Geneva, Switzerland, 21 April 2017 – The heads of major global businesses are urging G20 governments to formally accept that companies should disclose climate-related financial risks.
The 27 business leaders were convened by the World Economic Forum and include the chief executive officers of global banks, consumer goods and utility companies.
They are asking G20 leaders to act on the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), an industry-led body chaired by the UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and former New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
Together, the business leaders represent $4.9 trillion in assets under management and almost $700 billion in total revenue.
In an open message, they say that climate change is not only an environmental problem but also a business one. Improving disclosure of the material financial risks companies face from climate change is critical to the financial stability of markets and would enable greater investment in low-carbon and climate-friendly opportunities.
The message is timed as G20 finance ministers meet in Washington DC for the Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund.
The business leaders stress that G20 support would “send a strong signal that government leaders desire more transparency from business on the short- and long-term impact of climate change on their operations’”. They added that they “welcome the current TCFD recommendations and will actively support their successful implementation”.
They believe that universal agreement on climate disclosure would help investors make more informed long-term decisions while highlighting the financial risks of the physical impacts of climate change and liability risks that may arise from inaction.
“There are real financial risks associated with climate change and financial opportunities for companies in transitioning to a low-carbon economy,” said Richard Samans, Head of the Centre for the Global Agenda, Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum Geneva. “One of the biggest risks to market stability and performance is asymmetry of information. Increasing companies’ disclosure of their climate risks – and standardizing that disclosure – will go a long way to addressing this current market failure and will help governments deliver the Paris Agreement.”
It would also create greater visibility on how companies are managing these risks and where they are able to take advantage of new opportunities. Greater visibility of climate risks would help an orderly transition to a low-carbon economy.
The group said that risk disclosure was not a climate change panacea but should be part of a suite of complementary approaches to recalibrate the financial system to support the transition to low-carbon economies, citing the need for effective carbon pricing and the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies.
Below is a list of the business leaders. Quotes from them are available here.
- Oliver Bäte, Chairman of the Board of Management (Chief Executive Officer), Allianz SE
- Jean-Louis Chaussade, Chief Executive Officer, Suez
- Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, Chief Executive Officer, Solvay
- Oleg Deripaska, President, UC Rusal
- José Manuel Entrecanales Domecq, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Acciona
- Sergio P. Ermotti, Chief Executive Officer, UBS Group
- J. Erik Fyrwald, Chief Executive Officer, Syngenta International
- Ignacio S. Galán, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Iberdrola
- Bernardo Gradin, Chief Executive Officer, GranBio Investimentos
- Stuart Gulliver, Group Chief Executive, HSBC Holdings
- Ralph Hamers, Chief Executive Officer, ING Group
- Gregory Hodkinson, Chairman, Arup
- Isabelle Kocher, Chief Executive Officer, ENGIE Group
- Xiande Lee, Chairman of Jinko Solar Co., Ltd.
- Vineet Mittal, Chairman, Avaada Group
- Alex Molinaroli, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson Controls
- Bob Moritz, Global Chairman, PwC
- Christian Mumenthaler, Chief Executive Officer, Swiss Re Group
- Pierre Nanterme, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Accenture
- Eric Olsen, Chief Executive Officer, LafargeHolcim
- Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever
- Eric Rondolat, Chief Executive Officer, Philips Lighting
- Feike Sijbesma, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Managing Board, Royal DSM
- Francesco Starace, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, Enel SpA
- Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Schneider Electric
- Sandra Wu Wen-Hsiu, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, Kokusai Kogyo Co., Ltd.
- Ion Yadigaroglu, Managing Partner, Capricorn Investment Group.
Climate-resilient planning: reflections on testing a new toolkit
Planning and implementing resilient basic service delivery systems on the ground can be challenging. This report explores how the Building Resilience and Adaption to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) Knowledge Manager in collaboration with two BRACED implementing partners developed a Climate resilient planning toolkit to guide staff through this process.
- Basic service delivery is critical to community resilience to climate extremes and disasters. People’s ability to absorb, anticipate and adapt is enabled through their access to basic services, such as health, water supply, sanitation and education.
- Tools already exist to increase the resilience of service delivery systems, but there has been no in-depth exploration of ways to apply systems thinking to basic service delivery.
- To address this gap, the BRACED programme has developed a toolkit that supports users to identify vulnerabilities along the service delivery chain and to reflect on the best ways to increase resilience from both a component and a systems perspective.
A new climate trilateralism? Opportunities for cooperation between the EU, China and African countries on addressing climate change
Weigel, Moritz /
Bonn: German Development Institute / German Institute for Development Policy (DIE)
The Paris Agreement Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the first universal, legally binding instrument. While South-South and trilateral cooperation has been a major factor in the development of the European Union,
The European Union (EU), have shown a great deal of leadership in the Paris Agreement. The new EU strategy on China proposes to turn "what is often perceived as EU-China competition in Africa into" greater cooperation "and to pursue" joint approaches "to" speed up the implementation of the Paris Agreement Nationally Determined Contributions ". Cooperation on addressing climate change has been a part of China's Africa policy since 2006, and China has been a long-term commitment to African countries through South-South cooperation. In 2015, China committed to significantly scaling-up its efforts in the area by pledging 20 billion Chinese yuan (USD 3.1 billion) to its recently established South-South Cooperation Climate Fund, which will focus on supporting African countries.
Trilateral cooperation between the EU, China and African countries should be guided by Africa's priorities. Fifty-three African countries have communicated their national plans to addressing climate change under the Paris Agreement by the submission of so-called (Intended) Nationally Determined Contributions (I) NDCs). Based on an analysis of INDCs and a review of the results of the project, The African Union's newly launched Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) provides a potential entry point at the regional and national levels. The EU and China should build on their existing pledges of support for the development of pilot projects to become the world's largest producer of renewable energies Institute. The single largest pledge in support of the EU member states has been made by the United States, which is the most important of the EU Energy
Moritz Weigel and Alexander are the founding directors of the ChinaAfricaAdvisory, an independent China and Africa-focussed advisory firm, based in Cologne, Germany, that services governments,
WWF's Living Planet Report 2016
Global biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate, putting the survival of other species and our own future at risk. The latest edition of WWF’s Living Planet Report brings home the enormity of the situation - and how we can start to put it right. The Living Planet Index reveals that global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined by 58 per cent between 1970 and 2012. We could witness a two-thirds decline in the half-century from 1970 to 2020 – unless we act now to reform our food and energy systems and meet global commitments on addressing climate change, protecting biodiversity and supporting sustainable development.
Recent innovations are closing the gap between conservation and finance sectors, potentially unlocking billions for nature
How to connect the worlds of finance and biodiversity for the good of nature and people?
This was the theme around which the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs organized two sessions in Cancun, named Greening finance & Financing Green. After the sessions, the gap is not closed but as one of the participants said, “there is more possible than assumed.” About at least one thing all speakers agreed: There is a large amount of money available for green investment – and an even larger need for good proposals to receive it. The two worlds do not really speak the same language, yet.
From 4 to 18 December, Cancun, Mexico was host of the 13th Conference of the Parties on Biological Diversity (COP13 CBD). About 10,000 people from 130 countries joined to discuss nature, biodiversity, ecosystems and the services they provide, their rapid decline or degradation around the world, the urgency of action, and the possibilities and hurdles for success. The Netherlands was particularly keen on events exploring the question of how we (as in the world) can find ways to pay for biodiversity to prevent its further decline and even finance its restoration.
Common language and a community of practice
It was remarkable that a lot of the participants were not per se interested in the subject; apparently finance still is a terra incognita for many biodiversity experts. But governments, wherever in the world, can not be the only ones paying the increasing costs of conservation, protection, management and exploitation of biodiversity. Mainstreaming biodiversity conservation within agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism therefore was the key theme of the CBD; but bridging the gap with the financial world is “an even more challenging task,” according to one of the speakers, Arthur Eijs from the Dutch Ministry of Environment. “Given the many different experiments and initiatives aiming to ‘bridge the gap’, greening finance and developing a pipeline of sufficiently large green projects, there is a need to organize an international community of practice or learning network.”
Caroline van Leenders, Sustainable Enterprise expert with the Dutch government has helped establish such a Community of Practice (CoP), called Financial Institutions and Natural Capital (CoP FINC), and issued a report, Finance for One Planet, as part of the Natural Capital Coalition. The aim is to incorporate natural capital in financial business and the CoP is focusing on three themes: Water (too little, too much, too polluted) climate change and land – new and scattered. Van Leenders noted, “People looking for private finance for keeping ecosystems resilient (halting the loss of biodiversity, investing in nature conservation, financing landscape) should be more aware of what goes on in the financial sector worldwide. Trends like impact investing (doing good with less financial return) and divesting from investments with negative impacts are fast growing and can be linked to their agenda. And after divesting from negative impacts, investing with positive impact will follow.”
Innovations represent a remarkable leap
Sara J. Scherr, President of EcoAgriculture Partners and Chair of the Landscapes for People Food and Nature Initiative pointed out that “The financial community has made a remarkable leap in innovation around investments in land, with sustainable management increasingly seen as both a source of financial value and a means to reduce risks to other land- and resource-dependent investments. The necessary tools are emerging, for value and risk assessment, sustainability standards, business models, fund structures and spatially-sensitive investment coordination, that will soon put sustainable landscape investment into the financial mainstream.”
Andrew Deutz, Director of International Government Relations of The Nature Conservancy, gave some good examples from the Nature Conservancy’s NatureVest portfolio. For example, they invested $7 million in Northern Kenya in a livestock-to-market project. The idea is that investing in better market access for local farmers leads to sustainable grassland management. The conservation impacts are potentially huge: 1.2 million acres of grassland managed in a sustainable way, 30 percent reduction in elephant poaching, along with sustainable livelihoods for 5000 households.
Matt Walpole from UNEP talked about the integrated biodiversity assessment tool (IBAT) and the need to implement safeguards on biodiversity when financing new development. More than 15 financial institutions use this huge database (with more than 290,000 records) already. In order to scale up, cultural and language issues require close collaboration with end users.
Eijs spoke about Verified Conservation Areas (VCAs), a new standard under development that seeks to make conservation outcomes at landscape scale publicly accountable and transparent. VCAs specifically seek to recognize conservation efforts “where we live and work.” VCAs will provide a new asset class for investors, a risk management tool, assurance of continuity and a learning platform. In a particular example of a pilot VCA, in Tullstorp in Sweden, the living conditions for wild fauna and flora in intensively cultivated farmland improved while at the same time the eutrophication of the Baltic Sea declined.
Session moderator Andre Brasser, of Beagle Sustainable Solutions, summarized the “Greening Finance” session. In his view, the most important message was that “there is a great need in understanding user needs, in knowing the culture, the language that is spoken. Finance people do not talk in terms of budgets, but in balances and cash flows. They speak in terms of risks, not in terms of threats. Good business cases are needed, and one way or another: some security, trust, and public transparency. There is a need for landscape strategies and more tests, perhaps even centres. Finally, we talk about impact investors, so how is impact measured?”
Organizations and financial institutions are making considerable progress overcoming differences in language, deal size, risk tolerance, and other aspects between the nature conservation and finance worlds, but there is still much to be done to bridge the divide, experts at the “Greening Finance, Financing Green” event said.
Financial institutions want to hear about “big and boring and seen it before”
Deutz kicked off session two of the side event, “Financing Green,” by asking “How do we build conservation into an asset class? Money is not the problem. The problem is that we do not have the right kind of investment vehicles to attract that money and steer it to the places where we can make the difference in conservation. How do we get there?”
Deutz noted that there is about 90 trillion dollars a year available in pension funds. ‘Only’ one percent is needed to solve the global conservation problem. Financial institutions increasingly want to invest in sustainability, clean energy and nature not only because of the return, but also because pressure from organisations like Google is getting higher. The struggle is finding projects that fit. “There is a small investing ecosystem developing, but projects are too small and too risky. So how can we get from risky and small to simple and repeatable? For years the NGO world, mainly depending on philanthropy, talked about ‘look at our cool, unique, innovative financing scheme.’ These words really work well in the NGO world. But financial institutions want to hear about big and boring and seen it before.”
Deutz identified five sectors where NatureVest is working to turn natural assets into an asset class for investors: agricultural intensification, coastal resilience, forest restoration and conservation, sustainable fishery management and water funds and water markets. “We try to make investment blueprints and in six months we figure out how to invest more in these sectors and what the Investment opportunities for each of them are. What are the common deals, what are best business cases that are scalable – and then aggregate them. One 30 million dollar deal does not work, but if we can combine six into a 200 million dollar deal, then it becomes interesting.”
Building capacity to make deals at the landscape level
Scherr talked about mobilizing private finance for integrated landscape investments. She gave a good example of a landscape initiative seeking green finance in Lake Naivasha, Kenya. This very important economic area generates 20 percent of Kenya’s national export and is home to 250,000 smallholders farmers, plus a very large population of pastoralists and their herds. Economic growth in the area has been rapid. The town of Naivasha has grown from 70,000 inhabitants a few years ago to over 250,000 people today.
Scherr identified nine different types of investors and users in Naivasha and the complexity of having all these different interests and users being well looked after. The lessons learned echoed Deutz’s remarks: fostering new partnerships between finance institutions and landscape stakeholders is critical; assisting stakeholders to develop bankable project proposals that contribute to landscape goals and demonstrate a clear investment case is a central challenge; packaging small deals together into a conversation-starting proposal for institutional investors will be vital going forward.
She emphasized that landscape initiatives need to think about finance while they are thinking about land and resource management, not after. “An action plan without a financing plan is an action aspiration,” she notes. Citing LPFN research on more than 420 landscape initiatives, noted that not a single one reported having a financial advisor. “Most of them do not even know how to go after grants,” let alone large private capital. Philanthropic and public finance could help unlock private finance by focusing on developing these capacities within landscape initiatives.
An action plan without a financing plan is an action aspiration
Scherr summarized: “The field of investments from Africa, Europe and Latin America highlighted in this session illustrate ingenious financial solutions emerging to integrate investments in agricultural production and ecosystem conservation/restoration. These call for new types of partnerships, innovative design synergies, and blended or coordinated strategies of private, public and civic finance.”
Caroline van Leenders referred to the role of Natural Capital accounting.”This is a powerful tool to help business, governments, financial institutions understand their dependencies and impacts on to the underlying ecosystem services. A landscape approach can help to keep the ecosystems providing those services resilient”.
Arthur Eijs gave more insight on the Commonland and returns of Landscape restoration. Commonland speaks of a “4 Returns” model, a holistic framework to restore degraded landscapes based on business cases and stakeholder participation, financing and investment, and knowledge and learning. One of the examples he showed was from Andalusia, Spain, a landscape of 630.000 hectares, with water scarcity, abandonment – but with new business opportunities. In creating a 4 Returns 20-year masterplan with a natural restoration project, with demonstration and regenerative farms and the promotion of restoration business cases, Eijs says they learned a critical lesson that was at the heart of both sessions: “One of the main lessons was to use a common language. It sounds so logical – but is so little done.” He continued, “Take your time to scout. Act local and be expert driven, build on local initiatives. And do not judge! It is a social process so building trust and creating inspiration are key drivers.”
A Convenient Truth - Fighting Climate Change Turned Into a Profitable Business
Climate change, migration and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
This briefing looks at the anticipated impacts of climate-induced migration on efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on climate change – SDG13. More specifically, this briefing describes the SDG targets relating to climate change, and the particular challenges to each in the context of increasing climate-induced migration.
- Climate change and disasters are, and will continue to be, major drivers of migration and displacement.
- The poor are the most vulnerable to climate change. They are likely to live in high-risk areas, have less means to prepare, and lack information to anticipate, and respond to, a disaster. Yet they are also the people who will find it hardest to migrate.
- National adaptation strategies must help those who are forced, or choose, to migrate as result of climate change. They must inform migrants of risk and build their capacity to cope in new locations.
- For those who are forced to move internationally, bilateral agreements and international frameworks must protect their rights.
- Migrants can put additional pressure on infrastructure and services at destination. National policies need to factor in the needs and impact of new climate-induced migrants.
Improving Relief and Development Responses to Climate Variability
October 3, 2016
The 2015–2016 El Niño weather system was one of the strongest on record, causing drought and flooding in locations across the world. Parts of sub-Saharan Africa were particularly hard hit. In Southern Africa, low or erratic rainfall caused serious drought and associated food insecurity in 10 countries, severely testing the coping strategies of households, communities, and governments and prompting an emergency response by donors. In June 2016, a team from the CSIS Global Food Security Project and CSIS Africa Program visited two of the hardest-hit countries—Malawi and Mozambique—to assess the scale of the disaster, observe the relief effort, and consider efforts by the United States to boost agricultural growth and build the resilience of affected countries.
Our soils could accelerate global warming: we need more action to stop it
This piece was originally written for the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) Blog.
Today is World Soil Day. It comes hot on the heels of recent events like the Global Landscapes Forum and 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) in Morocco, which have galvanized the world to act with urgency on the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Sinking more carbon in the ground is more appealing than ever to meet new emissions targets. But it’s not that easy.
Maintaining carbon that is already stored in the soil is a challenge in itself. Evidence just published in Nature shows that rising temperatures are stimulating our soils to lose carbon and emit it to the atmosphere - the problem is particularly serious in areas with the highest carbon stores.
What’s happening in soils is accelerating the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and increasing the rate of global warming. So it’s clear we have a problem.
However, if they are well managed, our soils can also be part of the solution. The amount of carbon stored in the soil is huge - two to three times higher than what is currently in the atmosphere.
CIAT’s research suggests that, globally, soils could be managed to help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and increase storage, which in turn, could help reverse the trend reported in the Nature paper.
Neglected highlands: call to invest in tropical soils
In this century, soils could absorb between 30 and 60 billion tonnes of carbon, which is between 3 and 9 percent of likely global emissions, and most of that could come in the next 35 years if appropriate incentives are created.
In tropical agricultural landscapes, the fact is we don’t have enough available data on soil carbon and we need it. Even the recent Naturestudy acknowledges that the analysis doesn’t include tropical ecosystems in Africa: the data is not available.
“It’s clear the world is not doing enough in the tropics to facilitate the type of change that we need to see in soils research,” said CIAT’s Director of Soils Research, Dr. Louis Verchot. “At a time when problems are increasing and the world has settled on new Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, governments across the globe are disinvesting in rural areas.“
Highlands are particularly vulnerable: global food insecurity in these areas grew by 30 percent between 2000 and 2012, contrary to trends everywhere else. Almost half of those living in rural mountain areas in in developing countries are vulnerable to hunger, poverty and malnutrition – yet these are often the most diverse ecosystems, with higher rainfall and better quality land.
A good start would be to invest in measuring how much carbon is stored in soils already, and how much more soils could potentially sequester through improved management practices.
For example, a new program supported by the German Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Soil Protection and Rehabilitation for Food Security, is enabling CIAT scientists to identify agricultural management practices that boost food security while preserving soils and possibly increasing its carbon content.
Land restoration agenda: action now
Loss of soil organic carbon leads to land degradation - ultimately triggering low agricultural productivity. Restoring soil health is an important component of the global land restoration agenda - but preventing soils from degrading and releasing further carbon trapped in the ground is equally important. Some key lessons we’ve already learned include:
- Understanding soil diversity is vital to guide decisions about how to restore them. But we also need to better understand the diversity of farming systems in general. Different farming systems require different interventions – like terraces on slopes to prevent soil erosion for example. Developing context-specific interventions that meet farmers’ preferences is key to getting the agenda moving on the ground.
- When it comes to capturing more carbon in the soil, we need a more inclusive strategy and more realistic options for tracking carbon capture. We need to consider how people farm the land; how communities use their resources and can benefit from protecting them.
- Off-farm factors are important in farmer decision making, and we need to better understand what these are. Access to markets to sell their produce; availability of food during dry seasons – farmers have many things to consider above and beyond protecting their soils.
- Participatory tools like Evaluating Land Management Options(ELMO) and Participatory Video can help us understand the constraints and aspirations farmers have in maintaining soil health – after all, they are the ones that need to carry them out.
- Youth will need to be better involved in soil rehabilitation initiatives. That’s because they’re the farmers of the future: many of those involved in soils initiatives today will not be here to see the long-term impact of these investments.
World Soil Day: soils and pulses, a symbiosis for life
That’s the theme of World Soil Day this year. It points to some solutions already enabling farmers to fetch a higher income, put more food on the table and adapt to a changing climate. For example, intercropping with more nutritious beans bred to contain more iron while also combating drought and disease, or climbing beans that produce double or even triple yields.
Yet to have impact across landscapes and continents, farmers - and other decision makers - need better information about where to target limited investments. Trade-offs will be unavoidable: smallholder farmers always have to prioritize food security, despite having less land and natural resources with which to produce food.
So which soil management practices can improve carbon capture, maintain soil carbon and boost yields of crops like improved beans? How much carbon can we realistically capture in our soils? For now, those questions remain unanswered.
Call to Action:
- Site-specific tools can be developed to present decision makers with the bigger picture of where soils are most degraded, and which areas should be prioritized for investment to improve soil carbon stocks.
- Ready-to-finance packages of best-bet land and soil conservation practices can highlight which practices are most appropriate to enhance soil organic carbon stocks in particular regions.
- Increasing carbon in the landscape will require landscape mapping and site-specific data to guide decision makers about where to invest in specific management practices.
- Further research is needed to identify drivers of land use change at regional, national and sub-national scales, to develop policies to enhance carbon capture on agricultural land, benefitting farmers and communities.
Using Open Government for Climate Action
Countries made many national climate commitments as part of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which entered into force earlier this month. Now comes the hard part of implementing those commitments. The public can serve an invaluable watchdog role, holding governments accountable for following through on their targets and making sure climate action happens in a way that’s fair and inclusive. But first, the climate and open government communities will need to join forces.
Historically, open government and climate groups have worked in silos, operating in different forums, using different terminology and meeting with different stakeholders. Yet the NGOs, academics and other non-state actors focused on transparent governance and accountability are critically important in the climate arena, especially now that countries must address numerous governance hurdles, including the need for national level institutional coordination, capacity building and political buy-in. Bringing together the open government and climate communities offers an opportunity to develop new strategies that enhance accountable and inclusive climate policy decision-making.
Here are four areas where these communities can lean in together to ensure governments follow through on effective climate action:
1) Expand access to climate data and information.
Open government and climate NGOs and local communities can expand the use of traditional transparency tools and processes such as Freedom of Information (FOI) laws, transparent budgeting, open data policies and public procurement to enhance open information on climate mitigation, adaptation and finance. For example, Transparencia Mexicana used Mexico’s Freedom of Information Law to collect data to map climate finance actors and the flow of finance in the country. This allows them to make specific recommendations on how to safeguard climate funds against corruption and ensure the money translates into real action on the ground.
Civil society NGOs can also provide alternatives to online portals to ensure information is actually reaching local communities. One group in Indonesia, Yayasan Lembaga Konsumen Indonesia (YLKI), uses its weekly consumer radio show to provide a forum around electricity issues in Jakarta. This allows them to directly share information about public rights around electricity services, provide a forum to answer questions, and increase the ability of local residents to address grievances about power cuts and service reliability.
2) Promote inclusive and participatory climate policy development.
Civil society and community groups already play a crucial role in advocating for climate action and improving climate governance at the national and local levels, especially when it comes to safeguarding poor and vulnerable people, who often lack political voice. Public survey research has also found that people want civil society NGOs included in climate policymaking decisions, and believe the process is more legitimate when civil society is involved. Open government and climate civil society groups can use their links with local communities to strengthen the number and type of initiatives used to feed public input into wider policy debates and secure a seat for both men and women at the decision-making table. This can include mobilizing youth awareness, training indigenous leaders on proposed and negotiated climate change legislation and their rights around the principle of “free, prior, and informed consent,” or strengthening NGO participation in government-led roundtables on national climate change agendas.
3) Take legal action for stronger accountability.
Accountability at a national level can only be achieved if grievance mechanisms are in place to address a lack of transparency or public participation, or address the impact of projects and policies on individuals and communities. Civil society groups and individuals can use legal actions like climate litigation, petitions, administrative policy challenges and court cases at the national, regional or international levels to hold governments and businesses accountable for failing to effectively act on climate change. In the Netherlands, for example, the Hague District Court determined the country must further reduce CO2 emissions to adequately address the impacts of climate change and meet their obligation to protect people and the environment. The case was brought by the Urgenda Foundation, a Dutch NGO, and 886 individuals concerned about the country’s ongoing contribution to climate change.
4) Create new spaces for advocacy.
Bringing the climate and open government movements together allows civil society to tap new forums for securing momentum around climate policy implementation. For example, many civil society NGOs are highlighting the important connections between a strong Governance Goal 16 under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and strong water quality and climate change policies. WRI is hosting the sixth Global Gathering of The Access Initiative, called “Open Government for Climate Action,” organized in connection with the December Open Government Partnership Summit (OGP). This event will bring together leading thinkers in open government, open data and climate to exchange ideas on how civil society can best engage in implementing national climate policy. The Gathering will also inform future open government commitments made by OGP member countries, including many of the countries responsible for the largest emissions of greenhouse gases, such as the EU, United States, Mexico, Indonesia and Brazil.
The Gathering and Summit offer exciting opportunities to bring together the separate worlds of open government and climate. Together, they will help spur accountable and inclusive climate action that improves the lives of local communities.
Climate change: from talk to action in challenging political times
Climate change and politics have jostled for attention – in the media, in development thinking, and in my own mind – during a dramatic last fortnight.
Next steps for climate change
In Marrakech, Morocco the latest global Climate Change summit has just drawn to a close. COP22 has long been dubbed the "COP of action". It also served as the first meeting of the Parties to last September’s Paris Agreement (CMA 1), and indeed it saw the launch of a number of initiatives and action plans that suggest that implementation of the Paris Agreement is truly underway. These included the 2050 Pathways Platform - an initiative designed to help governments, cities, civil society and business to collaborate in developing national long-term decarbonisation plans.
It followed the release of decarbonisation plans by the US, Canada and Mexico. Several further countries ratified the Paris agreement, including the UK, whose Foreign secretary Boris Johnson signed after no objections from parliament. The summit launched the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action calling for strengthened global collaboration to implement the Paris accords. And there were calls for further large scale mobilization of funds. To keep to the two degree limit for global warming it is claimed that global investments in infrastructure needs to increase from USD 3.4 trillion per year today to USD 6 trillion per year on average during the next 15 years.
Towards a sustainable earth
Meanwhile I spent a week with fifteen international science and policy leaders debating research and action priorities ‘Towards a Sustainable Earth’ (TaSE). This was an early part of a new initiative led by the Rockefeller Foundation, the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Economic and Social research Council (ESRC), to shape narratives and plans around human-environment relations necessary to fulfill the UN Sustainable Development goals (SDGs) by 2030. An intense set of discussions hosted at Rockefeller’s inspiring Bellagio complex charted some of the major transformations needed to meet SDG challenges, including climate change.
We agreed that an agenda integrating science (including social science) with policymakers, practitioners and publics is required. Such ‘co-production’ of engaged, solutions-oriented research is the approach already embedded in Future Earth, the major ten-year international research platform established in 2015 to provide the knowledge and support to accelerate transformations to a sustainable world. As co-chair of Future Earth’s Science Committee I’ve been involved in the formation of its series of ‘knowledge-action networks’, including one specifically on the SDGs. There are important opportunities to build a strong alliance between the new TaSE initiative and Future Earth.
The dramatic shadow hanging over both these meetings was the US presidential election of Donald Trump, emerging as shocking news in the middle of the debates. President-elect Trump has a past record of outspoken, climate change skeptical statements. He has called climate change a hoax, and a ‘Chinese conspiracy’. During his presidential campaign he claimed plans to rip up the Paris deal, to halt any U.S. taxpayer funds for UN climate change programmes, and revive the U.S. coal sector. But of course he is also known for his unpredictability, raising questions about what he will actually do once in office.
Worrying signs are the people he is appointing to his team. For instance Trump has selected Myron Ebell, a prominent climate skeptic, to head up the Environmental Protection Agency Transition team team (and potentially become EPA Administrator). This suggests that the Trump team is looking drastically to reshape the climate policies the agency has pursued under the Obama administration, and angry environmentalists are already signing petitions in protest. Meanwhile Sarah Palin has been named as a possible candidate for Interior Secretary, potentially giving this staunch supporter of fracking and fossil fuel extraction control over the US’s national parks. We should not forget that the establishment of several major parks, and indeed key parts of the US’s environmental and conservation architecture, was the achievement of an earlier Republican administration under President Theodore Roosevelt in the early twentieth century. Is the hope that the Trump administration might seek to claim green credentials as part of its contribution and legacy a vain one?
Clearly climate change is a global challenge that needs a global response, requiring cooperation between nations. In this light Trump’s election – along with the growing nationalist isolation we are seeing in some countries, including around Brexit – are worrying indeed.
A politics of hope?
More positively, many other participants at COP22 re-urged the need for the biggest world powers to work together. China, the biggest greenhouse gas emitter, ahead of the United States, said it would push ahead with its promises to limit climate change and urged Trump to reconsider. "As the largest developed economy in the world, U.S. support is essential. We have to expect they will take a smart and wise decision," Liu Zhenmin of the Chinese delegation told a news conference in Marrakech.
China has also hit the climate change news in other positive ways. New research from the Global Carbon Project and the University of East Anglia released during COP22 shows that carbon dioxide emissions barely increased in 2016, despite large economic growth in parts of the globe. The projected rise in emissions of only 0.2 percent for 2016 marks a clear break from the rapid emissions growth of 2.3 percent per year in the 10 years leading up to 2013. Decreased use of coal in China is the main reason behind the three-year slowdown – helped by China’s unprecedented investment in and policy support for renewable energy.
Although there are signs that the world may have reached ‘peak carbon’, however, this is clearly not enough for tackling climate change; global emissions now need to decrease rapidly, not just stop growing. Countries need to ‘decarbonise’ many sectors of their economies, along with transformations towards more sustainable, climate compatible ways of living, and adapting to the unavoidable climate change that so many people and places are facing.
A grassroots movement?
Here, it is not just international politics that are important, but local and national ones. As colleagues in the ESRC STEPS Centre have been showing, grassroots innovations in areas like renewable energy have enormous potential to contribute to climate change challenges, and especially to pro-poor adaptation and mitigation in the least developed countries.
Alternative local economic arrangements also offer exciting seeds for building more sustainable, climate-compatible futures. Here, I was excited during our Bellagio discussions to learn more about the community-business alliances being fostered through the Great Transformation Collaborative of the B Team, a platform for business leaders seeking to foster alternative, more sustainable models.
Such initiatives ‘from below’ can help catalyse, add up to and push for the major national and global changes needed to tackle climate change. This this requires policies and politics that nurture and support local ideas, capacities and arrangements – a politics in which social movements, working with enlightened politicians and business leaders, have key roles to play.
Climate change action from the bottom-up can’t substitute for what is needed from the top-down. But they can work together. In a world where international leadership looks patchy and uncertain, these politics from below are more important than ever – and a cause for hope that we must hang on to.
African Civil Society Calls on Trump Retract His Twitter Remark on Global Warming
African civil society groups at the 22nd Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP 22) in Marrakech have called on US president elect, Donald Trump to issue a statement denouncing his twitter comment about global warming, failure to which they will join other movements campaigning for the reversal of his election.
“Mr. Trump must issue a statement reassuring the international community that his twitter remarks were just but campaign rhetoric, else, we will not tolerate any leaser who seeks to derail gains already made in the fight against climate change,” said Mithika Mwenda the Secretary General for Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) at a press conference in Marrakech.
Trump came under heavy criticisms especially from his opponent Hillary Clinton during their race to the Oval Office, following his remarks on twitter that; "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."
In one of the presidential debates, Trump further said that the issue of climate change is an issue that requires further probing, and that money used to fight the phenomenon should be channeled to other uses.
"There is still much that needs to be investigated in the field of climate change. Perhaps the best use of our limited financial resources should be in dealing with making sure that every person in the world has clean water. Perhaps we should focus on eliminating lingering diseases around the world like malaria,” said the republican nominee.
Perhaps, he continued, “We should focus on efforts to increase food production to keep pace with an ever-growing world population. Perhaps we should be focused on developing energy sources and power production that alleviates the need for dependence on fossil fuels. We must decide on how best to proceed so that we can make lives better, safer and more prosperous,” he added.
And now that the American people have given him the key to the White House, civil societies and other interested parties all over the world are worried that his position and views towards climate change may carry the day, hence, lead to the withdrawal of US from the climate negotiation processes.
America is one of the world’s top three emitters of greenhouse gases, which are responsible for global warming.
By 2011, the top carbon dioxide (CO2) emitters were China, the United States, the European Union, India, the Russian Federation, Japan, and Canada. These data include CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion, as well as cement manufacturing and gas flaring. Together, these sources represent a large proportion of total global CO2 emissions.
“Africa is the lease emitter of these gases, yet the continent is the most affected by climate change,” said Mithika.
In that regard, as the Marrakech negotiations comes to a close, the African Civil Society has called on leaders to accelerate momentum on climate action with the coming into force of the Paris Agreement.
Report: Over 70% of Investors See Risk, Investment Opportunities in Climate Change Impact
“Bridging the Adaptation Gap” describes the discussions of over 150 private investors and other stakeholders who met five times in 2016 to focus on (1) approaches to measurement of physical climate risk and (2) examples of investment in climate adaptation and resilience.
“GARI demonstrates that private investors see both the risk to their portfolios from the physical impact of climate change and the opportunity to invest in addressing that risk today,” said lead report author Jay Koh, founder and chair of GARI and Managing Director of The Lightsmith Group, an alternative investment firm. “Post-Paris, investors are calling for better ways to measure physical climate risk and for support in making resilient investments.”
The report reveals that respondents consider transparency and practicality the most important factors in approaches to assess physical climate risk. Over 60 percent of respondent investors are considering investments today in resilient infrastructure and in companies whose products address the impact of climate change on water, agriculture, healthcare, energy, and financial services.
Contributing author Emilie Mazzacurati, CEO of climate risk and resilience market research firm Four Twenty Seven, added, “In the context of worsening signals from climate science and the uncertainty on our ability to meet Paris targets, investing in climate resilience is all the more critical. The report demonstrates that private investors are ready to step up to bridge the adaptation finance gap.”
“Climate risk is often overlooked. Approaches to measurement of physical climate risk will be key to integrating the notion of climate risk across a range of investment products, and from an understanding of these risks, opportunities for new, more resilient investment will emerge,” says contributing author Stacy Swann, CEO of Climate Finance Advisors, a consulting firm advising investors and policy makers. “GARI is an initiative that brought together the constellation of financial actors who are the thinkers and the early adopters in this new investment space.”
The global investment community has been vocal of late about its desire for a drastic increase in ethical investment options - as well as an easy, standardized way to identify them; and fixing the disconnects that make it difficult for many companies to properly define, measure and communicate ESG performance and risks.
Talia Rudee lives in Seattle with a passion for sustainability, triathlon, and desserts. She has a BA in Environmental Sociology from Whitman College and is currently working toward an MBA in Sustainable Systems at Presidio Graduate School, Seattle campus. As… [Read more about Talia Rudee]