My foray into climate change in the World Bank Group started with the drought-affected regions in Andhra Pradesh, India in 2003. The WB had just started thinking about adaptation to climate change and was trying to begin a dialogue with developing countries dealing with overwhelming challenges of poverty. With my colleagues in India, we began looking at drought-proofing in Andhra Pradesh without labeling this a `climate change’ study. In many ways, this was probably the first attempt to integrate adaptation into a Bank rural poverty reduction project. Two years later, the study was well received and became the pilot for drought-adaptation, to be linked to India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Program.
This experience served as a laboratory for us to learn lessons that have helped mould Bank’s engagement with climate change. It went on to shape the key features of the Strategic Framework on Development and Climate Change (SFDCC) that was approved a year ago. Connecting with client countries and listening to their concerns became the cornerstone for the SFDCC. The Framework was formulated through an extensive global consultation with both World Bank Group staff and external stakeholders. It was the process itself that helped build ownership for climate change work inside the Bank Group and among client countries.
One important decision that came out of the process of developing the SFDCC was the primacy of the country-based assistance model. It meant not looking at particular targets but building collaborative relations with developing country partners and providing them customized demand-driven support -- from financing and technical assistance to policy dialogue. The result is that over 60 percent of the Bank’s Country Assistance Strategies now have a climate change element. The Framework has facilitated many bottom-up initiatives in energy and financing by staff and clients across sectors.
To me, it seems that we’ve come a long way from the days when we were apprehensive of even mentioning `climate change’ projects.