Climate extremes and poverty reduction: Development designed with uncertainty in mind

The global climate is warming and there is growing evidence that climate variability is increasing in many places; extremes are becoming more frequent and intense in some parts of the world. 

This report explores the relationships between climate change and poverty, focusing on climate extremes, on the basis that these manifestations of climate change will most affect attempts to reduce poverty over the next 15 to 25 years. Three detailed case studies, on drought risk in Mali, heatwaves in India and typhoons in Philippines, illustrate the relationship between climate change, climate extremes, disasters and poverty impacts.

All three case studies show the disproportionate impact of climate extremes on those living below the poverty line and those who suffer from non-income dimensions of poverty. Immediate impacts on poor households include loss of life (and associated loss of household earnings), illness, and loss of crops and other assets. Longer-term effects include increases in the price of staple foods, a reduction in food security, malnourishment, malnutrition and stunting in children, as well as lower educational attainment.

Climate information and services in BRACED countries

This paper looks at the opportunity to integrate climate services into resilience programming. By adapting climate information to specific contexts and within an overall resilience programme, BRACED will create an enabling environment for better access, use and application of weather and climate information.

Key messages

• Access to, use and application of weather and climate information in Africa and Asia is increasing.

• Yet end-users face various challenges in applying the information they receive. This is related to the quality of the information products, not having information at appropriate scales and difficulties in communicating and interpreting the information produced. Climate information should be service-orientated and integrated into decision making from national through to the community level.

• The success of resilience programmes will depend on their ability to create opportunities to strengthen climate services in country. Additional support is needed to (i) strengthen the capacity of information providers, so they are able to produce more localised, timely and accurate climate information; and (ii) institutionalise two-way communication, between producers and endusers, so those who need it can continue to use information over time to build resilience.

 • BRACED presents an opportunity tointegrate climate services into resilience programming. By adapting climate information to specific contexts but within an overall resilience programme, BRACED will create an enabling environment for better access, use and application of weather and climate information.

Gender and resilience

The contribution that external interventions make to individual, household and community resilience to climate extremes and disasters will largely depend on the suitability of those activities to the local context and the extent to which implementing agencies address existing social dynamics and power relations.

Exploring the gender dimension of resilience to disasters and climate change encourages researchers and practitioners working in these fields to focus on people's different relationships to the environment and access to resources. It also encourages them to assess how projects aimed at managing risk and building resilience are affected by social norms, including those pertaining to gender-based inequalities.

The analysis of NGO approaches in this paper reveals different levels of ambition, from recognising gender-based differences to targeting gendered interests and ultimately transforming gendered power relations. Several challenges were however identified within the gender elements of these projects related to their design, operational feasibility and the practicality of monitoring.

The authors set out recommendations for the implementation of resilience-building projects with a gender equality lens, based on examples from the literature and the NGO project documentation. They emphasise in particular the need to analyse the connections between the 'mini-theories of change' concerned with the ambitious goal of transforming gender relations and the overall theory of change for the resilience project as a whole. In doing so, implementing agencies can improve the coherence, gender impact and effectiveness of monitoring approaches. This exercise will require a thorough examination of the two-way causal relationships between women's empowerment and community or household-level resilience.

The 3As: Tracking resilience across BRACED

This paper presents an explanatory framework for measuring resilience outcomes that embraces and makes sense of the current diversity in resilience approaches. Here, outcomes from BRACED projects are understood to be a set of interrelated resilience capacities – the capacity to adapt to, anticipate and absorb climate extremes and disasters (the 3As). The 3As framework can organise practical actions or processes for resilience building and offers a new and innovative means for doing this. In acknowledgment of the growing discourse on ‘transformation’, this paper also presents a workable approach to analysing the potentially transformative impact of BRACED interventions.

Connecticut SB No. 1013: Special Act 13-9: An Act Concerning Climate Change Adaptation and Data Collection

Section 1. (Effective from passage) Not later than February 15, 2014, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and The University of Connecticut shall, in accordance with section 11-4a of the general statutes, report to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to the environment on the joint efforts of said department and university to establish a Connecticut Center for Coasts. Such report shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  1. A detailed description of the mission for such a center that shall include, at a minimum, conducting research, outreach and education projects to guide the development of technologies and regulatory provisions that increase the protection of ecosystems, coastal properties and other lands and attributes of the state that are subject to the effects of rising sea levels,
  2. the proposed governance of such center, including appointment of a center director, establishment of an advisory board and the requisite staffing level for such center,
  3. a plan for the center's performance of:
  • (A) Mapping exercises to assess and visualize key characteristics of shoreline resiliency, such as shoreline changes,
  • (B) pilot-scale engineering and impact assessment studies,
  • (C) consensus building efforts to determine state-wide uniform guidelines for planning and development purposes, including the expected rate of sea level rise for the next one hundred years,
  • (D) ways to develop state-wide, science-based planning and management alternatives,
  • (E) development in science and information-based outreach and technology transfer programs for state and local agencies and officials involved in planning and development,
  • (F) an assessment of soft shore protection strategies in Long Island Sound and the development of instructional guides for the use of such soft shore protection strategies,
  • (G) a comprehensive coastal infrastructure inventory and risk assessment,
  • (H) an analysis of the impact of seawalls in urban and rural communities,
  • (I) the development of uniform, state-wide models that predict inundation flood scenarios under slow, constant sea level rise and under storm surges,
  • (J) projects that lead to the development of rapid storm damage assessment technology,
  • (K) developing design guidelines for the construction and repair of seawalls, and
  • (L) developing tools for determining appropriate shore protection strategies and providing coastal protection information to a diverse range of end users,

  4. a listing of the existing university and department resources that will be utilized in the performance of the center's responsibilities and a description of the specific ways in which each resource will be used to perform such responsibilities, and (5) the sources and amounts of funding that the department and university, either jointly or individually, intend to secure or secured for the purpose of establishing such center.

Samoa National Adaptation Programme of Action

The necessity to communicate Least Developed Countries’ (LDC) most urgent and immediate adaptation needs from the adverse impacts of climate change was formalized at the 7th Conference of the Parties in 2001. Samoa was one of the first countries to receive funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) under the LDC Fund to develop its National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA). After two years of comprehensive information and data collection, as well as countrywide consultations, Samoa’s NAPA preparation project has achieved its objectives.

The ‘Samoa Climate Change Synthesis Report: National Adaptation Programme of Action 2004’ (The Synthesis Report, 2004) has been completed and this report has created opportunities for synergies with other multilateral agreements particularly the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) for collaborative and integrated actions in adaptation responses. A nationally driven set of criteria for prioritization has also been developed and utilized to prioritize the adaptation actions in the national programme. The development of Samoa’s NAPA has been an exceptional learning experience for all those involved, particularly the National Climate Change Country Team (NCCCT) and National Task Team (NTT). By adopting an integrated approach, all the relevant stakeholders (both in government and non-government organizations) have been able to work hand in hand to ensure that those whose livelihoods are most vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change impart the urgency and immediacy of the adaptation needs.

The purpose of this report is to examine Samoa’s main environmental pressures within each highly vulnerable national sector, including the livelihoods of communities. These sectors have been developed into project profiles which include issue statements and provide a summary of the profile’s objectives, activities, inputs, outputs and outcomes (see Annex I-1 – I-9) that have been set and agreed to by government, the private sector and most importantly the village communities, using nationally driven criteria.

It is intended that the contents of this document will provide the GEF with indications of Samoa’s most urgent and immediate climatic adaptation needs. Moreover, it is envisaged that partnerships which Samoa has established with its other development partners will be strengthened to explore additional opportunities and support for implementation of the NAPA.

The Government of Samoa gratefully acknowledges the assistance of GEF and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in extending the financial assistance towards the development of its NAPA.

City of Portsmouth, New Hampshire Coastal Resilience Initiative: Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan

Research shows how the climate of New Hampshire and the Seacoast region has changed over the past century, and predicts that the future climate of the region will be affected by human activities that are warming the planet. The most current climate report for New Hampshire (Wake et al, 2011) describes historic trends over the past century and likely changes in New Hampshire’s climate over the next century and is designed to help residents and communities plan and prepare for changing climate conditions.1

Overall, New England has been getting warmer and wetter over the last century, and the rate of change has increased over the last four decades according to detailed analysis of data collected at four meteorological stations (Durham and Concord NH; Lawrence, MA; and Portland, ME).

  • Since 1970, mean annual temperatures have warmed, with the greatest warming occurring in winter.
  • Average minimum and maximum temperatures have also increased over the same time period, with minimum temperatures warming faster than mean temperatures.
  • Both the coldest winter nights and the warmest summer nights are getting measurably warmer.

The Coastal Resilience Initiative (CRI) is the City of Portsmouth’s first look at the potential impact from a changing climate. Coastal communities like Portsmouth are most vulnerable to impacts of sea level rise and coastal storm surge.

The objectives of the Coastal Resilience Initiative were to:

  • Describe the range of climate change and sea level rise scenarios that researchers have identified for the New Hampshire Seacoast region;
  • Map four sea level elevations to show how these scenarios would impact the City of Portsmouth in the next 40 to 90 years;
  • Using these maps, identify physical assets (buildings and infrastructure) and natural resources that are vulnerable to sea level rise and coastal storm surge;
  • Develop preliminary strategies for adapting to future conditions, and estimates of the costs of these adaptation actions;
  • Provide recommendations to guide adaptation planning, including policies and regulations.

The study products include a set of flood elevation maps, a vulnerability assessment, a preliminary outline of potential adaptation strategies, and recommendations for future planning, regulation and policies. This report represents a starting point for the City to identify avenues to implement adaptation measures that impart resiliency in the built environmental and protect natural systems.

Study Purpose and Limitations

The purpose of this report is to provide a broad overview of spatial and temporal risk and vulnerability of public and private assets as a result of projected changes in climate. This report should be used for preliminary and general planning purposes only, not for parcel-level or site- specific analyses.

The best available predictive information about future climatic conditions specific to sea level rise were utilized in the preparation of this report which with LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data collected by aircraft in 2011 serves as the primary source information for this project. That said, the vulnerability assessment performed for the project was limited by several factors including the vertical accuracy of elevation data (derived from LiDAR) and the static analysis applied to map coastal areas subject to future flooding which does not consider wave action and other coastal dynamics. Also, the estimated damages to buildings and infrastructure listed in Table 4 of the report are based upon the elevations of the land surrounding them, not the structure itself.

The modeled information in this report is based on the best understanding of the current and predicted future climate for this region. As model results and climate based projections are improved this report and reports of this type will need to be updated to reflect that new information, which could change the predicted amount of sea level rise and future climate impacts.

Tracking Coastal Adaptation: Implementing California’s Innovative Sea Level Rise Planning Database

Sea level rise presents a significant climate change adaptation challenge for California. The state has over 3400 miles of coastline, millions of coastal residents, and an economy dependent on coastal natural resources. Higher sea levels threaten residents, public and private development, critical infrastructure, and natural resources with increased risk of flooding, inundation, storm damage, shoreline erosion, saltwater intrusion, and beach loss.

Although California has long been a worldwide leader in mitigating global climate change through reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the state has only recently begun to focus seriously on adaptation actions, which aim to reduce or adjust the adverse impacts of climate change. California’s coastal communities, agencies, and public and private entities are largely in the early stages of planning for and addressing climate-related changes on the coastline.1 Because the coast is an integrated system, and entities throughout the state have similar adaptation needs and challenges, coordination in sea level rise adaptation across sectors, jurisdictions, and scales of governance is not just beneficial but essential. Yet recent reports on sea level rise have cited a lack of integration between the many actors engaged in adaptation in California and consequently have called for improved information-sharing.2

In response, the California Legislature recently enacted one of the state’s first laws designed to advance climate adaptation. A.B. 2516,3 which Governor Brown signed on September 21, 2014, directs the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) and Ocean Protection Council (OPC) to publish information about state and selected local efforts to respond to sea level rise in a publicly accessible online database. The law requires the following entities to submit relevant information to the database biannually: airports and ports in the coastal zone or San Francisco Bay area, investor-owned utilities and publicly owned electric or natural gas utilities in the coastal zone or San Francisco Bay area, regional water quality control boards, and several state entities with relevant jurisdiction (see Box 5 below).4 Notably, municipalities and counties do not fall under the reporting requirements of A.B. 2516.

The CNRA and OPC are currently in the process of developing an implementation strategy for A.B. 2516. A.B. 2516 was not accompanied by an appropriation of funds to support its implementation. With sufficient resources, however, the database has the potential to become one of the most robust sea level rise planning information portals in the country, and an example that other jurisdictions may wish to duplicate.5

Importantly, the law grants the agencies broad discretion to determine which types of sea level rise planning information to include in the database, whom to survey, and how to organize the data. These decisions are not insignificant. Creation of the database offers an opportunity to help establish a coastal adaptation survey and dataset that may be useful not only for state and local planning but also for broader assessment of California’s preparedness for sea level rise. And although mandatory reporting is limited to a discrete list of entities, all public and private actors engaged in coastal climate change adaptation—in California and beyond—stand to gain valuable knowledge and insight from the database. Furthermore, because California’s database is the first of its kind, the agencies’ choices about which information to survey, whom to survey, and how to structure the database have the potential to influence the form and scope of future adaptation databases in other jurisdictions.

This policy brief provides recommendations to the CNRA, OPC, and California Legislature regarding how to harness A.B. 2516 to enhance coastal climate change preparedness in California. The authors and contributors to these recommendations collectively bring expertise in coastal law, climate change adaptation, program evaluation, and survey research. Overall, acknowledging that the CNRA and OPC have limited resources to devote to implementation of A.B. 2516, we urge the agencies to work over the next several years to the best of their capacity toward developing a database that can play an integral role in the development and promotion of coordinated, integrated, and effective state adaptation policy.

Florida House Bill 7207: Growth Management

Growth Management; Redesignates "Local Government Comprehensive Planning & Land Development Regulation Act" as "Community Planning Act"; revises & provides intent & purpose of act; revises definitions; revises scope of act; revises & provides duties of local governments & municipalities relating to comprehensive plans; deletes retroactive effect; encourages local governments to apply for certain innovative planning tools; authorizes state land planning agency & other appropriate state & regional agencies to use direct & indirect technical assistance, etc.

Regional Climate Adaptation Planning Alliance: Report on Climate Change and Planning Frameworks for the Intermountain West

Major cities in the arid and semi-arid areas of the Western US have developed a Regional Climate Adaptation Planning Alliance to develop a common regional approach to adaptation planning – including a collective vision of resilience, planning frameworks and information sharing opportunities. This Alliance is founded on its members’ shared goal to make climate change adaptation a priority at the local level and the collective understanding that successful climate change adaptation requires regional collaboration. Subsequent sections of this report lay out a vision for resilience in the West; suggest common adaptation goals for municipalities in the region; describe the rationale for action on adaptation; establish common assumptions about climate change scenarios; and identify common focus areas and planning frameworks.

Sections 1 and 2 outline a collective vision for a region resilient to changing climate conditions. The vision describes a positive future in which Western communities identify the trends and hazards that threaten quality of life, and take the initiative to respond locally and regionally in building stronger communities, economies, and ecosystems. Section 2 outlines the principles that can guide Alliance members in achieving its vision of resilience.

Moving from the vision toward planning steps, Section 3 elaborates on the following six reasons to engage in climate change adaptation:

  1. The climate has already changed and future changes are highly certain.
  2. Climate change poses a threat to existing community priorities and commitments.
  3. Today’s decisions have long legacies, thereby shaping tomorrow’s vulnerabilities.
  4. Planning now can save money, while inaction now will lead to higher costs in the future.
  5. Planning for uncertainty is not new, and can be integrated into current planning frameworks.
  6. Adaptation has co-benefits for other community priorities.

Section 4 is a focused summary of current climate change science that is relevant to the broad region of the Intermountain West. It provides the scientific basis for planning and outlines the historic and projected shifts in two primary changing climate conditions – temperature and precipitation. Additionally, information on snowpack and streamflow, secondary climate change condisioins, is provided due to the significant role these factors play in the region. The report draws on existing academic literature and finds overwhelming evidence that the region will experience a trend toward higher temperatures with a projected rise in 2020 to between 1.9 and 3 °F above a 1960 – 1979 baseline.1 The report also found significant evidence that the region will likely see declining snowpack and streamflow over the long term. While projections for temperature and snowpack are more certain, the variability of precipitation patterns currently prevents to scientists from discerning a definite trend for the region. The section concludes with key information for understanding climate change including shifting averages, increasing extremes, and the timing of change.

Although temperature, precipitation, and snowpack projections are important to understand in themselves, communities are often most concerned with the impacts of climate change to communities. Section 5 presents key climate change impacts for the region, covering five different sectors – Water Resources; Agriculture and Food Security; The Built Environment and Extreme Events; Public Health; and Economic Impacts. The section also includes key information about the interdependencies of climate change impacts.

Water resources will be severely impacted by a number of key factors, but the ability to meet consumer demand in multiple sectors could be most threatened by increasing dryness. The built environment is most threatened by future increases in flooding, wildfire risk and energy disruptions. The report finds that the biggest concern for the public health sector is likely to be the increase in heat-related morbidity and mortality over the coming decades. Although the secondary impacts to the regional economy are not as clearly understood, the costs of inaction are likely to be very high. For water supply alone, the cost of climate impacts could be as high as nearly 1 trillion dollars annually by 2100.2 .

The final three sections provide additional information to help the Alliance pursue its next steps. Section 6 uses ICLEI’s Climate Resilient CommunitiesTM (CRC) Five Milestones for Climate Adaptation planning framework to describe the general approach of climate adaptation planning. The section also outlines three different options for local governments to work through this framework: 1) Stand-alone adaptation planning 2) Integrated adaptation planning and 3) Sector-specific adaptation planning. Section 7 provides guidance and options for information-sharing among Alliance participants. Finally, Section 8 identifies the following near-term objectives for Alliance activities:

  1. Establishing a regular dialogue by conference call or online meeting; 
  2. Creating a resolution articulating the group’s intentions and goals;
  3. Adoption of the resolution by local governing bodies; and
  4. Developing an online platform for information-sharing.