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DM2009 Finalists Could Be Models for Climate Adaptation

Tom Grubisich's picture

The big question of whether developed nations will get serious about funding climate adaptation in developing countries was at least partially answered by the "Accord" at the recently concluded U.N. negotiations in Copenhagen.  Big global warmers -- the U.S. and the OECD nations primarily -- will pony up billions.  Exactly how much money and how it will be divided between mitigation (measures to hold  temperatures increases to under 2 degrees Celsius) and adaptation (proofing people, ecoysystems, and economies against the destructive impacts of worse weather) is not detailed.  But the developing world seems sure to get major help.

There's another big question that doesn't have even that half-answer: Will the unspecified billions that go to adaptation be effectively spent to do their intended work?  With adverse weather trends intensifying flooding, drought, and rising sea levels, especially in poor and other developing countries within the equatorial belt, adaptation is urgent -- particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, low-lying parts of South Asia, and among the Pacific island states.  Much of the adaptation will require capacity development -- learning and knowledge that must reach broadly through the organizational fabric of government and civil society and foster innovative adaptation.  But developing nations and donors alike are having a hard time doing that. The World Bank Institute's new "Capacity Development Results Framework" (published in draft form in June 2009), says bluntly: " ...the results of efforts to develop capacity have persistently fallen short of expectations."

At a June 2009 forum co-sponsored by the WBI, consultant Robert Theisohn said: “You cannot do capacity development for others. Learning is voluntary and capacity development must be home-grown so we need to move from supply to demand, from delivery to acquisition.”

Interestingly, the projects of the 100 finalists at DM2009 were very focused on active as opposed to passive learning -- where participants don't just sit and take notes but become players in change that aims to protect people and natural resources and energize often faltering rural economies.  The DM projects would be great models for developing countries that want to start implementing their adaptation plans -- once those pledged funds from developed nations start to materialize.

DM2009 Finalists Rank Far Down as CO2 Emitters

Tom Grubisich's picture

The 44 developing countries represented among the hundred DM2009 finalists produce very modest amounts of carbon dioxide (the major man-made source of global warming) on a per-capita basis.  The World Bank data visualization (above) divides the 44 countries into low income (green balls), lower-middle income (orange), and upper-middle income (blue).  For comparison, the high-income U.S. is represented by the purple ball in the upper-right-hand corner.

The vertical axis shows emissions per capita in metric tons among finalist countries.  A group of Sub-Saharan African nations -- represented by the green balls at the far left -- produce the lowest per-capita emissions -- as low as a fractional .10 metric tons.  Russia --  the highest blue ball -- has the highest CO2 emission rate among finalist countries -- 10.5 tons.  The U.S. rate is 19.5 tons.  Per-capita emissions by India -- the largest orange ball -- are among the finalists' lowest rates, although the South Asian county is a major emitter overall because it is so populous.

Climate change's adverse affects, including drought, flooding, and rising sea levels, will hit developing countries the hardest, and that includes their economies as well as people (particularly the poor and other vulnerable) and natural resources.  The effects are already being felt.  The horizontal axis of the chart shows gross domestic product per capita in finalist countries.  Many countries' per-capita GDP is already precariously low -- below $500 -- and some others, including India's, aren't much higher.

The DM2009 finalist projects' triple objectives are to protect people at the community level -- particularly the most vulnerable -- and the natural resources on which they depend, and energize generally faltering rural economies.

A Graphic View of the Wide Split in Copenhagen

Tom Grubisich's picture

This World Bank data visualization shows how the lowest-income countries compare with the highest-income ones on carbon-dioxide emissions (the main man-made contributor to global warming) and energy use.   The lowest-income countries -- blue, purple, and pink balls -- are clustered at the low end of both axes.  CO2 emissions per capita are visualised horizontally and energy use, vertically.  The highest-income countries -- orange -- are at the higher end of both axes. 

The big purple ball in the lower-left-hand corner is Bangladesh, the most populous of the 49 Least Developed Countries.  It's per-capita CO2 emissions are .030 metric tons and its energy use per capita is the equivalent of 160.5 kilograms of oil.  By comparison, the U.S. -- the biggest orange ball toward the upper-right-hand corner -- produces 19.50 tons of CO2 per capita --- 65 times Bangladesh's - and its energy use is the equivalent of 7,760 kilograms of oil -- 48 times Bangladesh's.

The size of each ball reflects the population of the country it represents.

The visualization also includes the fast-growing middle-ncome countries of China (the biggest pink ball),  India (the biggest purple ball southwest of China), Brazil (the green ball to the left of China), and the Russian Federation (the blue ball in the middle of all the smaller orange balls).  All those countries are becoming major emitters of CO2.

National Governments and NGOs: The Friction Point

Tom Grubisich's picture

Ann Kendall represents the Cusichaca Trust's winning entry in DM2009 that would use pre-Hispanic water-management systems to respond to the adverse affects of climate change in an Andean community of 2,350 families in Peru. In this mini-interview she has some very interesting things to say about the competition and how it could better help finalists, winners and non-winners alike.

Q. What impressed you most about DM2009?

A. The variety of levels of knowledge, experience, issues focussed, and the finalists' desire to contribute. Plus the effort and thought the World Bank staff had put into creating a program to encompass this range.

Q. What improvements would you like to see?

A. This year’s agenda and the series of sessions were very intensive and had all the strains of a crash course in order to communicate/educate at all levels of experience. It provided lots of opportunity but was perhaps too intense for some, so that there was less space for taking initiatives and advantage for more specific choices of dialogue developed with individuals and concerning more project specific interests, which could have included a deeper exploration of connections between fellow finalists objectives and appreciating the points of value of their issues and presentations and how these might interact with their own objectives. In 2006 I remember there was more collegial, general interaction with World Bank staff who took the time to visit and take a relaxed interest in the stands. Their conversations and reactions to the finalists about their specific presentations were most useful, as were their own matured interests and concerns, sharing their World Bank experiences and views. The interaction in 2009 with the World Bank managerial staff...was excellent and greatly appreciated. It would have been good to have had a couple of free hours one afternoon and some info on book shops in Washington for acquiring/reviewing available published materials. Maybe this was available on the Friday and the winners missed out on it!

Q. Should there be a bigger money pool to produce more winners or to extend winning projects beyond the early-stage period?

How Can Sri Lanka take Advantage of its Demographic Dividend?

Susrutha Goonasekera's picture

Much has been said about Sri Lanka’s uniqueness among developing countries; no one can deny that the oldest population pyramid outside of wealthy countries.

The demographic transition implies an aging of the population, but before old-age dependency becomes an issue, there is an intermediate period of a demographic dividend when a larger proportion of the population will be at the prime working age. The success to managing the long-term age-dependency effects of the demographic transition is to use this intermediate period of demographic dividend to conserve resources for future use and to plan for a more cost-effective strategy to deal with the future age burden. This will allow older people to live a happy productive life.

The challenge is to develop a strategic approach that takes advantage of the demographic dividend period both in terms of making strategic decisions for future cost-effectiveness and save resources for future use.

The Freedom to Choose What’s Right

Antonio Lambino's picture

I attended a fascinating session recently on Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) in a developing country which shall not be named for various reasons.  Let’s call it Cadania for present purposes.

CCTs, simply put, “are cash payments to poor households that meet certain behavioral requirements, generally related to children’s health care and education” (The World Bank).  In other words, money is given to a qualified household if it can be demonstrated that children are in school or brought in for regular medical check-ups.  It is, therefore, conditionality at the individual household level.

A massive media content analysis, conducted on thousands of newspaper articles over several years, suggests that press coverage was largely favorable toward the project.  Positive and neutral stories outnumbered negative stories by a large margin over a five year period. 

Innovation: An Un-Level Playing Field for Developing Countries

Tom Grubisich's picture

Innovation has always been crucial to economic growth, and never more so than in this era of globalisation.  But globalisation can create innovation winners and losers.  The new book Innovation and Growth: Chasing a Moving Frontier, published jointly by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank, describes how innovation -- not principally from newer science but the penetration of older, infrastructure-intensive technologies like improved water source and sanitation -- puts developing countries on an un-level playing field compared to developed countries.

A book launch and seminar are being held today from 9:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the World Bank Main Complex (Room MC2-800).  It will feature the book's editors -- Pier Carlo Padoan, Secretary-General and Chief Economist, OECD; Carlos A. Primo Braga, Director, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network (PREM), World Bank; Vandana Chandra, Senior Economist, PREM and Development Economics (DEC), World Bank; and Deniz Eröcal, Coordinator, Enhanced Engagement with Non-Member Economies, OECD.

This blog will have more on this event, but here's an excerpt from the book's Introduction summarizing the innovation dilemma:

"In the past few decades, as the international flows of trade, capital and labour have expanded across the global marketplace, the competitiveness and prosperity of high-income economies has come to rely increasingly on their innovative capability. Unlike OECD countries, developing countries’ competitiveness and prosperity remains largely tied to their endowments of natural resources. Their governments have been less successful in fostering technological innovation. Moreover, low productivity levels continue to constrain their competitiveness in the global market.

 "The unique nature of innovative activity and the growing interconnectedness of the world economy call, however, for greater attention to the interplay of openness and technological innovation not only in OECD countries, but also in developing economies.  Innovation systems increasingly rely on 'open' platforms and collaboration side by side with competition. At the same time, the geography of innovation is being redrawn as economic interdependence grows, emerging economies accumulate immaterial assets, and modern communication networks redefine opportunities for 'leapfrogging.' The experience of the so-called 'BRICs' (Brazil, Russia, India and China) is illustrative in this context.

After Copenhagen: DM2009 Winner Has a Message for World Leaders

Leonardo Rosario (beneath banner in photo) of the Philippines was a winner at DM2009 with his Trowel Development Foundation's project to protect subsistence fishing communities from climate change, while also improving their production and marketing and restoring mangrove forests.  Here's his message for leaders at the international climate talks in Copenhagen.

How I wish the finalists of DM 2009 could have presented their “100 Ideas to Save the Planet” to international leaders gathered at the U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen.

What those leaders would have seen would have been not only passion and commitment but also solutions that were innovative, pragmatic, and cost-efficient.

It’s too late to go to Copenhagen.  But Copenhagen is only the beginning of the search by world leaders for climate adaptation solutions that are worthy of their support. 

The DM2009 finalists’ projects meet all the objectives of that search.  They enhance and strengthen people’s capacity to manage climate risks and adapt to changing climate patterns, and even to build community resiliency among the most vulnerable – Indigenous Peoples, women and children, marginalized farmers, and small-scale fishers.

Building disaster-resilient communities may seem far-fetched to skeptics, but it is do-able.  With innovative, community-based management of natural resources as well as the synergy of ancient and traditional knowledge systems combined with modern technology, a quarter of the DM finalists showed how it can be done.  The main objective of the projects was to show how food, which is most important in times of disaster, can be secured.  The techniques included climate-adapted production systems, participatory plant breeding, introduction of “Family EarthBox,” bioculture systems, cultivation of drought-resistant rainforest tree food, and merging traditional indigenous production practices with environment-friendly modern farming technologies.

DM2009 as 'One of Washington's Best-Kept Secrets'

Tom Grubisich's picture

We've been exchanging emails with many of the hundred DM2009 finalists to get their collected thoughts on the competition.  Many of them had good things to say about the event and its programs, and how Development Marketplace could better their projects' chances, even if they weren't among the 26 winners.  But sprinkled among the positive assessments was some criticism.

Ben Stein, who heads a reverse-osmosis desalinization project to provide drinking water for 48 households on Rah Island in the Pacific nation of Vanuatu, praised Development Marketplace for "starting to understand what social entrepreneurship is," and singled out the knowledge exchange sessions.  But Stein says something important was missing: "People.  The World Bank is not a very 'people-friendly' or public place.  As there are no more Peoples' Choice awards [given in previous years' competitions], it appears that most Bank employees aren't willing to spend the time to look at the DM.  Perhaps future DMs should be held at a more public venue and really marketed to the interested public, or find some way to make the Bank a more accessible place and really market the event to the interested public.  Also, there was so much talk about social media, social marketing, and networking one would think that everyone in DC knew about DM, but in fact it seems to have been one of DC's best-kept secrets."

How to Make a Billion Dollars Work

Parmesh Shah's picture

Large-scale public services and expenditure, especially those specifically designed for the poor, are vulnerable to leakages. Whether it is access to quality health care or education, clean water or entitlements under a development scheme; the poor face many barriers in accessing the public services and programs that are intended for them.

Social accountability interventions aggregate citizen voice and strengthen their capacity to directly demand greater accountability and responsiveness from public officials and service providers. Such interventions include the use of tools such as community scorecards, citizen report cards and social audits.

In 2007, three social accountability interventions were introduced in India in public programs on a pilot basis, representing budgets that run into the billions of dollars. With social accountability as the common denominator, three different states with three different service delivery contexts have been able to precipitate a series of impacts in just one year.