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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.)

DM Finalist Digital Divide Data Keeps on Winning

Tom Grubisich's picture

 

The good news for DM2003 winner Digital Divide Data keeps on coming.

DDD, which trains the disabled, orphans, migrants, and vulnerable women in Cambodia and Laos to become digital operators for overseas clients, has received a US$50,000 grant from the Boeing Co. to advance its socially attuned IT job training and placement in Southeast Asia.

In its most recent quarterly statement, non-profit DDD, whose 650 employees and trainees make it the largest technology company in Cambodia and Laos, reported:

"...we increased earned revenues from clients to US$2.2 million for the year ending June 30, 2009. This was up 50% from the previous year of US$1.5 million.

"For the fourth straight year DDD covered its business costs through earned revenue. We then used generous support from our donors to support our social mission related expenses, particularly the recruiting and training of disadvantaged young people and educational benefits."

Digital Divide Data was founded in 2001 by Jeremy Hockenstein, then a management consultant for McKinsey & Co.  Struck by the "mix of poverty and progress" in Cambodia on a trip to Angkor Wat, Hockenstein saw "the opportunity to make a difference."  He put together a team of friends from his college days (he graduated from Harvard), and they started an IT training program -- modeled after outsourcing operations in India -- whos graduates would do digital work for foreign institutions and companies. Their first contract was digitizing the Harvard Crimson at Hockenstein's alma mater.  The details of DDD's outsourcing work for academic institutions, libraries, and other clients are here

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.

Will There Be a Battle Over Climate Change Funds in Developing World?

Tom Grubisich's picture

We now know the price of climate adaptation in developing countries –- US$75-100 billion per year between 2010 and 2050.  The recently published costs were explained by their World Bank estimators in a panel discussion at the Bank on Tuesday.  But who, exactly, will do the adapting?

Most of the developing countries that will be hardest hit by climate change are poor (20) and some of them are classified as fragile (six).  Poor –- and especially fragile – countries are already hard pressed to effectively implement current economic growth strategies because their governments don’t have adequate capacity in launching projects (e.g., local ownership, rigorous monitoring and evaluation, focus on results, feedback mechanism).   Multilateral development banks, like the World Bank, are increasingly turning to non-governmental organizations to close the capacity gap.

Climate-adaptation spending – if it’s fully funded – would equal what’s now spent on “official development assistance” (ODA).  Besides, climate adaptation, because it's unexplored terrain in many respects, will require a lot of learning, knowledge, and innovation.  So how would the doubling of development funding be matched by capacity?  The new cost-of-adaptation study says, very confidently: “For all sectors, adaptation costs include the costs of planned, public policy adaptation measures and exclude the costs of private adaptation.” 

Does that mean that NGOs wouldn’t get a share of the billions of dollars in annual climate-adaptation funds that are expected to flow from developed to developing countries in coming years as part of the recent Copenhagen “accord”?  Not necessarily.  After Tuesday’s panel, I asked the chief author of the World Bank cost study, Sergio Margulis, if his numbers covered only climate adaptation carried out by national and regional governments, or might they be a “hybrid” that included NGOs. “A hybrid,” he said.

Are African women having too many babies?

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Twenty-five of the 28 high-fertility (more than 5 children per woman) countries are in Africa. This and related facts have revived the concern that Africa will miss out on the “demographic dividend” –the rapid economic growth rates associated with declining fertility, as experienced by many countries in Asia. But Africa is also the continent with the slowest economic growth in the past. And, as The Economist (and others) pointed out, economic growth is probably the best contraceptive. 

For Social Entrepreneurs, All Expenses Paid

Tom Grubisich's picture

If you're a social entrepreneur, the Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI) program wants to consider you for its 2010 all-expenses-paid course on how to create a business plan for a sustainable, scalable project that will connect with donors and other investors.  The deadline for applying for the mostly distance-learning program is Friday, Jan. 15.

Development Marketplace finalists especially will want to consider applying to GSBI.  Leonardo Rosario of the Philippines, a DM2009 finalist winner, received this invitation from GSBI:

“Dear Leonardo,  Because of your recognition by World Bank’s Development Marketplace, it is my pleasure to invite your application for the 2010 Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI™).

Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu of Nigeria, who was also a winner at DM2009, says: "As an alumni of this program I highly recommend it for social entrepreneurs and other interested development professionals."

 

The first step in the application is a "value proposition" exercise where potential participants describe their organization and "articulate why the target customer/beneficiary will 'choose to buy' or 'consume' your product or service offering(s) over other alternatives.  (Note: the alternative may be 'non-consumption')."

 

World Bank Showcases DM2009

Tom Grubisich's picture

Development Marketplace got marquee treatment from the World Bank website this week.  It was featured in the top spot on the Bank's homepage, with a photo of Alejandro Agumedo, director of the Association ANDES project, and researcher Katrina Quisumbing King of the winning Peru finalist project Adapting Native Andean Crops for Food Security to Indigenous Peoples.  The World Bank package included, besides the main story, profiles of three past finalist winners and their subsequent successes.

 


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