IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

20.8.3 Bringing climate-change adaptation and development communities together to promote sustainable development

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the latest international articulation of approaching poverty eradication and related goals in the developing world (see Section 20.7.1). Economic growth is necessary for poverty reduction and promoting other millennium goals; but, unless the growth achieved is equitably distributed, the result is a lopsided development where inequality increases. Many countries face intensifying poverty and inequality predicaments in the wake of undertaking free market policies (UNDP, 2003; UNSEA, 2005). As noted above, however, climate change is represented in the Millennium goals solely by indicators of changes in energy use per unit of GDP and/or by total or per capita emissions of CO2. Tracking indicators of protected areas for biological diversity, changes in forests and access to water all appear in the goals, but they are not linked to climate-change impacts or adaptation; nor are they identified as part of a country’s capacity to adapt to climate change.

Other issues of particular concern include ensuring energy services, promoting agriculture and industrialisation, promoting trade and upgrading technologies. Sustainable natural-resource management is a key to sustained economic growth and poverty reduction. It calls for clean energy sources; and the nature and pattern of agriculture, industry and trade should not unduly impinge on ecological health and resilience. Otherwise, the very basis of economic growth will be shattered through environmental degradation, more so as a consequence of climate change (Sachs, 2005). Put another way by Swaminathan (2005), developing and employing ’eco-technologies‘ (based on an integration of traditional and frontier technologies including bio-technologies, renewable energy and modern management techniques) is a critical ingredient rooted in the principles of economics, gender, social equity and employment generation with due emphasis given to climate change.

For environmentally-sustainable economic growth and social progress, therefore, development policy issues must inform the work of the climate-change community such that the two communities bring their perspectives to bear on the formulation and implementation of integrated approaches and processes that recognise how persistent poverty and environmental needs exacerbate the adverse consequences of climate change. In this process, science has a critical role to play in assessing the prevailing realities and likely future scenarios, and identifying policies and cost-effective methods to address various aspects of development and climate change; and it is important that all relevant stakeholders are involved in science-based dialogues (Welp et al., 2006). In order to go down this integrated and participatory road, a strong political will and public commitment to promoting sustainable development is needed, focusing simultaneously on economic growth, social progress, environmental conservation and adaptation to climate change (World Bank, 1998; AfDB et al., 2003). It is also important that private and public sectors work together within a framework of identified roles of each, with economic, social and climate-change perspectives built into the process. Further, co-ordination among national development and climate-change communities, as well as co-ordination among appropriate national and international institutions, is imperative.

This raises an important question regarding the process for bringing climate change and sustainable development together. Growing interest in these linkages is evident in a series of recent publications, including Toth (1999), Yamin (2004), Collier and Löfstedt (1997), Jepma and Munasinghe (1998), Munasinghe and Swart (2000, 2005), Abaza and Baranzini (2002), Markandya and Halsnaes (2002), Cohen et al. (1998), Kok et al. (2002), Swart et al. (2003). A number of themes that are particularly relevant to adaptation run through this literature. They include the need for equity between developed and developing countries in the delineation of rights and responsibilities within any climate-change response framework. Shue (1999), Thomas and Twyman (2004) and Paavola and Adger (2006) point, as well, to the need for equity across vulnerable groups that are disproportionately exposed to climate-change impacts. Hasselman (1999), Gardiner (2004) and Kemfert and Tol (2002) identify some examples from economics which raise concerns for intergenerational ethics; i.e., the degree to which the interests of future generations are given relatively lower weighting in favour of short-term concerns. Intergenerational justice implications, for individuals and collectives (e.g., indigenous cultures) are described in Page (1999). Masika (2002) specifically outlines gender aspects of differential vulnerabilities. Swart et al. (2003) identify the need to describe potential changes in vulnerability and adaptive capacity within the SRES storylines.

Although linkages between climate-change adaptation and sustainable development should appear to be self evident, it has been difficult to act on them in practice. Beg et al. (2002) identify potential synergies between climate change and other policies that could facilitate adaptation, such as those that address desertification and biodiversity. Ethical guidance from various spiritual and religious sources is reviewed in Coward (2004). However, an ‘adaptation deficit’ exists. Burton and May (2004) identify this as the gap between current and optimal levels of adaptation to climate-related events (including extremes); it is expected that climate change and poor development decisions will lead to an increased adaptation deficit in the future. While mitigation within the UNFCCC includes clearly defined objectives, measures, costs and instruments, this is not the case for adaptation. Agrawala (2005) indicates that much less attention has been paid to how development could be made more resilient to climate-change impacts, and identifies a number of barriers to mainstreaming climate-change adaptation within development activity (see, as well Chapter 17, Section 17.3).

The existence of these barriers does not mean that the development community does not recognise the linkage between development and climate-change adaptation. Climate change is identified as a serious risk to poverty reduction in developing countries, particularly because these countries have a limited capacity to cope with current climate variability and extremes not to mention future climate change (Schipper and Pelling, 2006). Adaptation measures will need to be integrated into strategies of poverty reduction to ensure sustainable development, and this will require improved governance, mainstreaming of climate-change measures, and the integration of climate-change impacts information into national economic projections (AfDB et al., 2003; Davidson et al., 2003). Brooks et al. (2005) offer an extensive list of potential proxy indicators for national-level vulnerability to climate change, including health, governance and technology indicators. Agrawala (2005) describes case studies of natural resources management in Nepal, Bangladesh, Egypt, Fiji, Uruguay and Tanzania, and recommends several priority actions for overcoming barriers to mainstreaming, including project screening for climate-related risk, inclusion of climate impacts in environmental impact assessments , and shifting emphasis from creating new plans to better implementation of existing measures. Approaches for integration of adaptation with development are outlined for East Africa (Orindi and Murray, 2005). The Commission for Africa (2005) explicitly links the need to address climate-change risks with achievement of poverty reduction and sustainable growth.

In recent years, new mechanisms have been established to support adaptation, including the Lesser Developed Countries (LDC) Fund, Special Climate Change Fund and the Adaptation Fund (Huq, 2002; Brander, 2003; Desanker, 2004; Huq, 2006; Huq et al., 2006). They have provided visibility and opportunity to mainstream adaptation into local/regional development activities. However, there are technical challenges associated with defining adaptation benefits for particular actions within UNFCCC mechanisms such as the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). For example, Burton (2004) and Huq and Reid (2004) note that the calculation of costs of adapting to future climate change (as opposed to current climate variability), as well as the local nature of resulting benefits, are both problematic vis-à-vis GEF requirements for defining global environmental benefits. On the other hand, there are opportunities. Dang et al. (2003) illustrate how including “adaptation benefits of mitigation” in Vietnam offers a way of linking both criteria in the analysis of potential projects for inclusion in the Clean Development Mechanism. Bouwer and Aerts (2006) and Schipper and Pelling (2006) identify opportunities for integrating climate-change adaptation and disaster risk management through insurance mechanisms, official development assistance and ongoing risk management programmes. Niang-Diop and Bosch (2004) outline methods for linking adaptation strategies with sustainable development at national and local scales, as part of National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs). As of the autumn of 2006, the LDC Fund was operational in its support of NAPAs in LDCs and both the Conference of Parties (COP) and GEF were in the process of defining how the implementation of adaptation activities highlighted in NAPAs could be funded (Huq et al., 2006).