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Latin America & Caribbean

How to Help Least Developed Countries in Climate Crisis

Tom Grubisich's picture

Least Developed Countries, we know, will be heavily impacted by climate change.  Indeed, drought, storm-caused flooding, rising sea levels, and heat waves are already taking their tolls in those 50-some nations.  But LDCs don't have enough resources to adapt adequately to adverse weather that regularly devastates communities and their ecosystems, reinforcing poverty.   The International Institute for Environment and Development details this mounting problem on its website.  It's not just the costs of adaptation for LDCs, but also a shortage of human resources, which, as the Institute says, are needed for "pressing and clearly definable issues such as health, employment, housing and education."

One way out of this bind is what the Institute is doing through its climate-change initiative -- "supporting, increasing and utilising the capacity of development practitioners, government agencies, NGOs and community-based organisations to enhance resilience to climate change."

DM2009 and its finalists are a perfect fit.

The IIED was founded in 1971 by economist Barbara Ward, a pioneer in promoting sustainable development, who frequently wrote about the disparities she saw in global wealth distribution.

The above graphic -- from the IIED -- lists LDCs, including Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which are especially vulnerable to rising sea levels.

'I Explained It to My Daughter, and She Understood'

Tom Grubisich's picture

If Sergio Margulis didn't grow up to be an environmental economist, he could have, no doubt, become an equally successful stand-up comic.  Who else could get some laughs when trying to explain the econometrics of climate-change adaptation?

The occasion was the recent World Bank-sponsored panel discussion on the draft report "The Costs to Developing Countries of Adapting to Climate Change," of which Margulis was co-author.  Of course, Margulis' primary intention wasn't to get his audience to laugh, but to understand a complex but increasingly important issue that's going to occupy global attention for perhaps the rest of the century as developing and developed countries try to put a ceiling on more global warming.

Margulis, Lead Environmental Economist with the World Bank's Environment Department, was joined at the panel by report co-author Urvashi Narain, Senior Environmental Economist at the World Bank; Otaviano Canuto, Vice President and Head of the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) Network at the World Bank, and Warren Evans, Director of the World Bank's Environment Department, who moderated the standing-room-only event.

Here's the video of the discussion.  (Sorry we couldn't embed it.)

Filling Another Need for Haiti - Information

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

As the Bank and others prepare their response plans for Haiti, it is worthwhile taking a moment to stress the importance of media and communication in the aftermath of the disaster, as well as in the more long-term post-crisis reconstruction period.
 

In both post-conflict and natural disaster situations, donors focus on filling people’s basic needs: shelter, sustenance, medical care. But there is another basic need that people have in emergencies: information. People need to find out if their loved ones are safe, and if so, how they can communicate with them. They need to find out where they can access basic services. They need to find out if it is safe to go back to their homes, and if not, where they can stay. And in the longer term, they need to reconnect with others in society, to come together to rebuild a nation.
 

DM2009 Winner Sees Public-Private Gap on Climate Adaptation

Carlos Daniel Vecco Giove's picture

In my country of Peru, climate adaptation planning at a national level isn't effective.  In fact, there aren’t any plans to speak of.

It would be great if all civil society groups could help to build an effective national plan that would produce results benefiting people and resources.  But this will require a process, and there is a lot to be done.

This not only a problem for government.  Even among NGOs there are factors that limit the participation of all organizations and people.

In our experience as a small organization, we were able to bring change in a concrete way at the regional level after a long and big effort. Our achievements were ignored during a long time by the main public institutions and big NGO.  Only after 10 years of hard work with scarce resources are we beginning to see results in terms of a change in the attitude of politicians that govern the region.

We are supporting in a very important way the regional political environment. But it is necessary to show how a small project like ours, which is being co-financed by DM2009, will contribute to this objective.

(Vecco [photo above] was team leader on the winning DM2009 finalist project in Peru that  will use its US$200,000 grant to help1,500 indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon better manage their agricultural production systems, protect their forest, and increase their income.)
 

From Sumatra to Haiti, the importance of increasing government capacity in responding to disaster

Cut Dian's picture
In Indonesia, a national disaster management agency was set up in 2008 to serve as a guardian of disaster risk management. The agency's important role was clear in the aftermath of a West Sumatra earthquake in 2009.

Helping Haiti through migration and remittances

Dilip Ratha's picture

A laudable measure that will benefit Haitians, more than any other aid and assistance, is the decision by the United States to grant them temporary protected status (TPS) for 18 months. This will allow about 200,000 Haitians currently residing in the US without proper documents to live and work here legally, without a fear of deportation. It would also allow them to send money home quickly and efficiently through formal remittance channels.

Haiti receives between $1.5-1.8 billion in remittances each year (some estimates are even larger, over a half of its national income).  If the TPS resulted in a 20 percent increase in the average remittance per migrant, we would expect an additional $360 million remittance flows to Haiti in 2010! What is more, if the TPS were to be extended once beyond the currently stipulated 18 months – the extension is almost certain to happen, judging by the history of extensions of the TPS for El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia and Sudan – additional fund flows to Haiti would exceed a billion dollar over three years. That would be a billion dollar of financial help coupled with goodwill and advice, tailored to the needs of the recipient. Financial help in the form of remittances from family members abroad is always the first to arrive in times of distress. Remittances to Haiti this year will surge, as they have done whenever and wherever there has been a crisis or natural disaster (see paper).

Climate Threats Hit Low-Income Countries Hardest

Tom Grubisich's picture

As the table shows, many low-income countries face the most climate threats, as identified by the World Bank.  A number of the most-threatened countries are also in the Least Developed Countries category, and six of them are in "fragile situations," also as identified by the World Bank.

Among the hundred finalists in the recent DM2009 competition, 26 of them came from most-threatened countries.  Bangladesh, which ranked first among most threatened, had five entries, but no competition winners.

Pledges of Adaptation Collaboration Need a Close Watch

Tom Grubisich's picture

Many developing countries are busy planning to adapt to climate change that is already heavily impacting their people, natural resources, and economies, especially agriculture.   But what actually works in particular countries, and at what cost, are often questions that National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPAs) and other strategies don't adequately answer.
 
To find answers that can be tailored to the conditions of individual developing countries -- there are 130 -- the World Bank is leading a pilot study of climate adaptation in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Samoa, and Vietnam.

The concept note says "overall oversight of study progress" will include, besides the six national governments, "civil society representation."  But some DM2009 finalists say they see little evidence, based on their own experiences, that governments in their countries are serious about collaboration with the private sector.

Successful climate adaptation depends on public-private collaboration, especially on the community level, where so much adaptation integrated with economic development has to take place.  NGOs with strong community roots -- like many of the DM finalists -- can also help close the capacity gap that hampers public programming in developing countries.

DM2009 Finalists and Other NGOs Must Tell Their Story

Tom Grubisich's picture

With global warming heating up, will non-governmental organizations be major players in forging and implementing climate adaptation as developing countries struggle to cope with the adverse effects of climate change on their people, resources, and economies?

The answer should be a no-brainer yes.  Many NGOs -- pre-eminently those that populate the DM2009 finalist roster -- have strong local roots.  Community connections are an essential ingredient of effective climate adaptation action.  But many DM2009 finalists express frustrations in their attempts to collaborate with governments in their countries.  Those frustrations have been detailed in this blog -- here, here, here, and here, among other places.


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