Forging a new way forward for development co-operation in the face of the climate crisis

By Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate

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Time is running out. The climate crisis is rapidly altering the systems that underpin life on Earth, multiplying existing threats to development while creating new obstacles. It will influence how countries develop for the rest of this century and beyond. As we head into 2020 — when countries will prepare and submit their next round of commitments under the Paris Agreement to commence its implementation — it is timely to check in on progress so far. Specifically, how donor countries and providers of development co-operation are accounting for climate change and aligning their activities with the objectives of the Agreement to ensure they are not supporting unsustainable development.

The climate crisis is affecting communities across the globe, most recently contributing to catastrophic bushfires in multiple states of Australia.  At the same time in the central and southern parts of Mozambique, at least 1.6 million people are in need of assistance due to the devastating effects of the ongoing drought and increasingly severe weather events linked to climate change. These event have been unfolding just months after disastrous fires in the Amazon, underscoring that we are indeed living in a new normal. Amid these events, at the 2019 United Nations (UN) Climate Action Summit in New York this past September, the OECD brought together over 30 climate and development leaders to urgently discuss the imperative to align the development and climate agendas, reflecting on key messages and priorities for the institutions that provide development co-operation. Continue reading

Can local and sustainable agriculture save biodiversity?

By Marco Maria Cerbo, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. at the Permanent Delegation of Italy to the international organisations in Paris, and Rebecca Graziosi, development co-operation intern

sustainable-agriculture.jpgDuring his speech at the Nobel Banquet, the newly-awarded laureate in Economic Sciences, William D. Nordhaus, declared: “Over the last half-century, the full implications of climate change and its impacts have been illuminated by the intensive research of scientists in different fields. These studies depict an increasingly dire picture of our future under uncontrolled climate change. […] Now, it is up to those who represent us, our elected leaders, to act responsibly to implement durable and effective solutions.”

Data can hardly deny this statement and our planet is now facing an unprecedented emergency. Globally, there is widely-cited evidence that the extinction rate of animal and plant species, as high as 1 000 times the background rate, is increasing rapidly as a result of human activities. In particular, biodiversity in farmland is diminishing, with effects on all of the ecosystem services that are essential to agriculture, including pest control, pollination and climate regulation. Pollution, climate change, over-exploitation of natural resources and changes in land use are the main drivers of biodiversity loss and are clearly related to human activities. Biodiversity is one of the most important legacies we can leave to future generations and its anthropogenic destruction requires urgent action by policy makers and a re-thinking of economic activities. Continue reading

Strengthening development in the face of the climate crisis and environmental degradation

By Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate and Andrew Norton, Director, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

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Aftermath of a Brazilian Amazon fire

The climate emergency and broader environmental destruction — from forest devastation to loss of biodiversity to depleted water supplies — are challenging international aid agencies’ collective ability to support sustainable development.

Despite awareness of these growing pressures, these issues are often peripheral to how development agencies work. True, most members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) have adopted environmental safeguards and are refocusing some of their actions on tackling the climate crisis. Too often, however, development agencies overlook other pressing environmental problems, such as sustainable management of forests, land and water, and related health issues such as sanitation, indoor air pollution and urban slum improvements.  In short, agencies have yet to fully integrate environmental concerns ― including climate change ― in their policies, plans, budgets and actions.

But how? The DAC examined the practices of its members — focusing on the European Union, Sweden and Canada — with support from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and identified five steps that agencies should adopt if they want to effectively tackle critical environmental challenges and threats: Continue reading

The Green Eureka Moment: Investing and Inventing to Stop Climate Change

By Raluca Anisie, Carbon Impact Analyst and Paul Hailey, Head of Impact, responsAbility Investments AG

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A family bakery in Ecuador that used a green loan from a GCPF investee to buy a more energy-efficient oven. Photo: José Jacomo

In the 3rd century B.C., Archimedes declared: “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the world.” This phrase speaks to the potential of the right tools at the right time, but as anyone who has tried to build flatpack furniture will confirm, not having the right tools can derail any project, however grand.

In 2019, our quest to find and use the right tools to move the world is more urgent than ever. As UNEP stated at COP24, we are the last generation that can stop climate change. This challenge requires a mobilisation of investment on an unprecedented scale, yet enormous gaps remain, especially in the developing world. Filling these gaps will require ground-breaking investment approaches like blended finance, a method that uses public money to improve the risk profile of investments to catalyse private funding. However, tools such as blended products will also need to credibly demonstrate impact to attract and retain public and private investors. Continue reading

The Global South’s contribution to the climate crisis – and its potential solutions

By Harald Fuhr, Professor of International Politics at the University of Potsdam, Germany

DEVELOPMENT-MATTERS-emissionsGlobal CO2 emissions in 2017 totalled some 36.2 gigatonnes (Gt), of which the Global South1 emitted some 21 Gt CO2 or 58%. In the same year, the Global North (including Russia) emitted some 13.7 Gt and contributed to some 38% of global emissions. The remaining 4% are mostly emissions from shipping and aviation (international bunkers).

CO2 emissions in the Global South are heavily concentrated. The top 10 countries of the South contribute some 78% of the group’s emissions (see Table 1). With some 9.8 Gt CO2, China is by far the world’s biggest emitter. In 2017, it emitted more than the US (5.3 Gt CO2) and the EU-28 (3.5 Gt CO2) combined. Just two countries, China and India, are responsible for almost 60% of the Global South’s emissions, followed by other countries in the range of only 2-3% each. In 2017, 56 upper middle-income countries contributed to 46% of global emissions, while 34 low-income countries, most of them in Sub-Sahara Africa, contributed to only 1% of the total. Despite the fact that the latter group hardly contributes to global warming, its countries are likely to be the ones most severely affected by extreme weather events.
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Bold steps to address the global pollution crisis

By Rich Fuller, President, Pure Earth, and Founder, Global Alliance on Health and Pollution

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Image by Yogendra Singh/Pixabay

A sense of urgency for action against pollution is building. Air pollution and climate agendas both acknowledge the immediate threat to human health and longer-term changes to the planet’s habitability. Uncontrolled industrial pollution in some lower middle-income countries is visible worldwide, and citizens in numerous cities, each experiencing versions of “airpocalypses”, fear for their children’s health and are demanding change. Corporate leaders are responding to demands from board members and consumers for clean supply chains and the development of toxic chemical “footprint” metrics. Pollution is a threat to biodiversity, and air pollution contributes to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Such growing public and political attention provides an opportunity for collaborative action to improve health and grow economies.

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We now have a Paris Agreement rulebook, where do we go from here? Insights on environmental policies from randomised impact evaluations

By Iqbal Dhaliwal, Executive Director, and Rebecca Toole, Senior Policy Associate, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)

 

gas-pollutionAt the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2018 (COP24), parties agreed to a rulebook that lays out how governments will measure, report and verify emissions under the Paris Agreement. Now countries need to act — and know whether policies and programmes are meeting their climate goals.

Thanks to innovations in research design, improvements in measurement technology and an increasing political will to know what works, more opportunities to rigorously evaluate and learn from real-world environment and energy policies exist than many might think.

Take, for example, our work at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) to ensure that policy is informed by scientific evidence. J-PAL is anchored by a network of 171 affiliated professors at more than 50 universities who conduct randomised impact evaluations to answer critical questions in social policy. Our Environment & Energy sector measures the real-world impacts of environmental and energy policies on everything from pollution reduction to climate change mitigation and resilience.

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