Climate-Proofing Development: An Interview With Karen HardeeNovember 29, 2010 By Hannah Marqusee
While expectations are deflated for broad international consensus at the UN Climate Change Convention in Cancun, the need to “climate-proof” development efforts has been gaining ground in recent years as a necessary preventative measure to help developing countries adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.
In 2001, The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) created National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) to help 49 “Least Developed Countries” adapt to climate change. Statements by the World Bank, OECD, and UN over the last decade have similarly reflected a need for adaptation, yet so far, there has been a distinct lack of funding and programming drive to actually integrate climate change and development efforts on the ground.
New Security Beat interviewed Karen Hardee, visiting senior fellow at the Population Reference Bureau, to ask her about NAPAs and how the international community can better address the climate adaptation needs of the developing world. She recently spoke at the Population Reference Bureau, arguing for a new language, funding structure, and global architecture to address climate change and development.
New Security Beat: Despite widespread agreement that climate change and development should be linked, NAPAs remain seriously underfunded. What is the cause of this discrepancy and do you think this could change in the near future?
Karen Hardee: NAPAs were introduced to help countries meet immediate and pressing needs related to climate change. In developing NAPAs, countries need to first determine their baseline situation to help identify the “additional” components needed to address climate change issues.
This concept of “additionality” is important because climate change funds can be used to fund activities that are directly related to climate change – like building a seawall – or to fund the “additional” climate change-related aspects of ongoing activities – like for example, agricultural diversification. Identifying the baseline situation and the additional costs related to climate change is often a very difficult, if not impossible, task. Furthermore, if some issues that should be funded through traditional development funds are not funded, or are underfunded, determining the additional burden associated with climate change will not necessarily bring additional funds. Only around a quarter of NAPAs are well-linked with development plans. One clear lesson is that the programmatic and funding links between climate change and development need to be strengthened.
Funding for NAPAs, which relies on voluntary contributions by developed countries, continues to be insufficient. Around $220 million has been pledged out of an estimated total cost of $2 billion. Additional funding mechanisms for adaptation, including the Adaptation Fund, which just announced funding for its first two projects, will help, but many questions on funding remain.
NSB: Many NAPA coordination teams are housed within a ministry of environment, making it difficult for multi-sectoral cooperation. Who should have responsibility for coordinating climate change adaptation, and how could the architecture be restructured to achieve this?
KH: Understandably, the climate change movement began through attention to the weather. But departments of meteorology and ministries of the environment are not necessarily the best suited to address the human dimension of climate change, including social sectors such as health. I think coordinating mechanisms should be established in offices of the president or prime minister. These should not be implementation bodies but should ensure that climate change, development plans, and funding are linked in ways that ensure effective and efficient programs that build resilience among individuals and communities.
To respond to the effects of climate change will take all sectors. For example, education of children, and particularly girls, is a proven development strategy and could help build resilience in families that might face difficulties, like migration, because of climate change. Yet education is not eligible for funding with climate change funds unless schools need to be climate-proofed, or perhaps if children are missing school due to drought brought on by climate change. Clearly there is a need to ensure close collaboration between climate change adaptation programming and development programming.
NSB: What have been the biggest impediments to getting adaptation projects with a reproductive health/family planning (RH/FP) component proposed and funded?
KH: Since 2001, 49 Least Developed Countries and Small Island States have been eligible to develop NAPAs. Analysis of the first 41 programs submitted to the UNFCCC found that 37 noted that population growth exacerbated the effects of climate change, but only six explicitly stated that meeting an unmet demand for RH/FP should be a key priority for their adaptation strategy and only two proposed projects that included RH/FP. Neither of the two proposals has been funded. Furthermore, only around seven percent of NAPA projects proposed so far are in the health sector.
Community-based adaptation (CBA) programs have arisen recently to engage the poorest communities that are highly reliant on natural resources for their livelihoods and who live in countries most vulnerable to the effects of changing climate. UNDP is implementing CBA projects in 10 pilot countries and none of the projects include health components, let alone family planning and reproductive health (although UNDP does support separate pilot projects on health in eight countries). Yet, in the 10 countries in which projects are being implemented, unmet need for contraception is above 15 percent in half of them and over 10 percent in seven of the 10 countries.
Population, health and environment (PHE) programs offer an alternate approach to CBAs and include attention to natural resources and the environment, livelihoods, health, and the effects of rapid population growth on communities and individuals.
NSB: With the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun on the doorstep, what are your hopes for improved integration of climate into the development sector?
KH: While certainly the world is going into the Cancun meeting with scaled-down expectations because of COP-15, one positive outcome from Copenhagen was renewed attention on funding for climate change, including adaptation. Ban Ki-moon’s high level panel on climate funding is an example of this attention to funding. Also, the World Bank’s press release this summer, in appointing Andrew Steer as special envoy on climate change, quoted Robert Zoellick, saying, “This appointment comes amid unprecedented demand from developing countries for World Bank support in their efforts to address development and climate change as interlinked challenges.”
We need to remember that adaptation programming is still new. It will be important to include strong evaluation components in these programs and to evaluate them jointly for climate change and development outcomes.