Commentary

Disconnect between climate resilience and development priorities

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Working Group II (WG II) of the Fifth Assessment Report from the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate change (IPPC) spells out the devastating impacts that climate change will inflict upon development and developing countries. “Throughout the 21st century, climate change impacts will slow down economic growth and poverty reduction, further erode food security, and trigger new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger” [1]. WG II reaffirms that climate stability is an essential condition for poverty eradication and prosperity. But in practice the two are often not fully integrated.

The post-2015 development agenda currently being negotiated in New York aims to reframe and build upon the development objectives agreed in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). But earlier on in 2015, countries will also come together to make key decisions about how the international community responds to humanitarian and climatic disasters at the negotiations on the Hyogo Framework. 2015 will not only be a core moment for the climate community, but the development and humanitarian community too.

Politicians often have a narrow bandwidth, but with such a culmination of multilateral agreements focusing on resilience and development it is vital that synergies are created, not competition. This is especially so regarding finance. As the pool of public financial resources for global public goods remains narrow, but the demands escalate, there is a temptation to rob Peter to pay Paul.

There has been an assumption in arguing for the separation of climate and development finance that this will lead to a higher aggregate amount of finance overall for both issues[2]. Whilst the potential to create synergies between adaptation and development is widely recognized conceptually, in negotiations, proposals for such mainstreaming are viewed with deep suspicion by developing countries[3]. This distinction in the negotiations is creating more barriers to effective synergies for building resilience.

Reconciling the artificial division between development finance and climate finance is essential in order to achieve greater resilience and higher quality development outcomes across economies and ecosystems. Focusing on resilient programme outcomes, as opposed to what money comes from which pot, can provide a useful entry point to create consensus amongst countries. There will be a variety of venues that will touch upon this issue, but the post-2015 process is a core venue where this consensus can be created at technical and political levels.

Integrating climate change into development priorities will be essential if we are to allay the grave futures WG II projects.

References

[1] Summary for Policy Makers – Draft

[2] http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/publications/Policy/docs/PP-climate-finance-fund-Romani-Stern.pdf

[3] http://elibrary.worldbank.org/doi/abs/10.1596/9780821379943_CH01

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