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AfDB Mainstreams Climate Change Adaptation into Development Finance


The African Development AfDB (AfDB) is at the leading edge in putting climate change adaptation into the mainstream of development.  The AfDB is also on the forefront in creating tools to climate proof AfDB-financed investments, and to mainstream climate change adaptation into development.

Also, it has developed a climate change action plan in partnership with the Global Climate Adaptation Partnership (GCAP).

Panel heard about these developments at a discussion at the climate change conference, or COP 17, in Durban.

Called the Climate Safeguards System (CSS), the plan assesses climate vulnerabilities and identifies adaptation measures, which can then be mainstreamed into the project cycle.

“We invest a lot in Africa, and we needed to look at what effect climate change has on livelihoods of communities. If this is not addressed, then it wouldn’t be worth investing”, said Dr Mbarack Diop, AfDB’s chief safeguard specialist.

Tom Downing, the GCAP’s chief executive officer said, “The AfDB’s projects must meet investment safeguarding standards. Our purpose was to give the AfDB relevant climate information.”

CSS consists of measures designed to prevent, mitigate and compensate undesirable ecological and socio-economic consequences of climate change.

The AfDB recognises the need to update it with emerging issues and adapt it to its changing priorities, said Diop.  He expanded: “There’s a need for simplification and integration. Climate, weather conditions and air quality are parameters that need to be addressed in more detail.”

The AfDB believes its Climate Risk Management and Adaptation Strategy highlights the need to integrate climate change into the development process. “Thirty-two percent of AfDB projects are sensitive to climate change vulnerability”, said the AfDB’s Al Hamdou Dorsouma. “The tools for mainstreaming are mostly analytical, others are generic and not easy to apply.”

The CSS has four modules: climate screening to assess for vulnerability; adaptation review and evaluation procedures to identify adaptation measures for a project; country adaptation factsheets with climate projections and country indicators, and also an information base giving access to information sources on adaptation

Explaining it further, Downing described the system as a scorecard. “Selecting a scorecard, adding the relevant information and asking questions will give a project score which will then determine the steps to be taken.”

Doursoma further said: “The scorecard method is used on sector and project characteristics. The safeguard system brings additional analysis, and identifies key considerations to be taken into account.”

Cinzia Losenno, a senior climate change specialist at the Asian Development Bank said their screening tool is similar to the AfDB’s, but not as sophisticated. “Ours is a three-track approach which integrates climate change concerns at strategy level, and has a country risk profile, adaptation, development and sectoral assessments.”

She said that the process needs to be simplified, and that the tools are complex from the reality on the ground.

Losenno said mainstreaming must identify mitigation opportunities too, not just the risks.

Kanta Kumari of the World Bank congratulated AfDB on the initiative, saying his institution is keen to learn from them. “It should be a requirement to do climate change risk analysis for all investments.”


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