Making Climate Adaptation Work for Everybody: Insights from the Webinar Series

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Authors: Peter Laderach and Ibukun Taiwo (CGIAR Focus Climate Security, The Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT)

The world is grappling with a convergence of crises, where multiple risk factors, including climate change, chronic poverty, inequality, conflict, and displacement, coalesce. Compounding this complexity is the rapid depletion of limited financial resources allocated to address these crises. Against this challenging backdrop, there is a critical need to assess financing mechanisms, examining their efficacy in addressing the multifaceted nature of these risk factors. Specifically, can these mechanisms generate synergies across climate action, development goals, peacebuilding, and displacement prevention?  

This forms the central theme of a three-part webinar series titled “Making Climate Adaptation Work for Everybody,”. Hosted by CGIAR Focus Climate Security, the series explored how investments in climate adaptation can yield multiple benefits across the interconnected objectives of climate action, development goals, peacebuilding, and the prevention of displacement 

Over three exciting episodes, experts shared diverse strategies for harnessing climate adaptation’s cross-cutting benefits. This blog post highlights insights from these discussions, offering a roadmap for navigating our complex world and inspiring hope for a more resilient future. 

Episode 1: Multiple benefits of climate adaptation for poverty reduction and gender equality 

In this episode, we delved into the pivotal role of social protection in advancing climate adaptation, poverty reduction, and gender equality. 

Climate change disproportionately affects vulnerable populations, particularly the poor, women, and girls. Despite their crucial roles in food systems and potential contributions to climate adaptation, women and girls bear a disproportionate burden due to heightened exposure, sensitivity to climate hazards, and lower adaptive capacity rooted in social inequities. This imbalance manifests in health impacts and maladaptive coping strategies. 

Social protection, comprising diverse programs and policies, aims to alleviate poverty and vulnerability in low and middle-income countries. These initiatives, including cash transfers, school feeding, and public works, often supplemented by training activities, serve as a promising platform.  

In recent years, social protection stakeholders increasingly explore adapting programs to intentionally address climate hazards. However, thoughtful design is imperative to simultaneously achieve multiple objectives, particularly addressing gender disparities and context-specific needs.  

INSIGHTS from the episode 

  • Social protection plays a crucial role in climate resilience by reducing vulnerability through risk mitigation for women and children, with cash transfers enhancing coping capacity. Additionally, it supports adaptation at various levels and aids disaster recovery, especially through public work programs, yet there is a need for more rigorous gender-specific evidence. In the emerging area of accelerating green transitions, social protection shows potential in creating jobs and supporting affected households, although evidence remains limited. 
  • Limited understanding persists on optimal migration timing versus coping and rebuilding in climate-affected areas. Gaps in knowledge extend to effective livelihood diversification for reducing climate vulnerability, especially for women, whose non-farm work may be less effective in extreme weather. Evidence gaps also persist on social assistance roles in gendered resilience against slow-onset climate events, necessitating more research. 
  • We need to mainstream social protection impact on climate adaption by: strengthening social protection systems, harmonizing climate and social protection goals, integrating climate vulnerability analysis and projections into social protection programs, enhancing financial protection for women through digital financial inclusion, and much more. 
  • Currently, few countries have robust disaster risk financing structures linking shock response to social protection. For example, Malawi’s social cash transfer program is connected to disaster risk financing instruments, like insurance. This introduces a shock-responsive mechanism, scaling up cash transfers for vulnerable households affected by issues like food insecurity from droughts. 

Watch the webinar episode here or listen to the podcast here. 

Episode 2: Multiple benefits of climate adaptation for peacebuilding and human security 

This episode explored the synergies between climate adaptation, environment, peacebuilding, and human security, identifying opportunities to invest and implement interventions strategically to yield multiple benefits across various objectives.  

Research by CGIAR and UNDP reveals that individuals most vulnerable to climate change are frequently located in fragile and conflict-affected settings. However, securing sufficient funds for effective climate interventions in these areas proves challenging. Key obstacles include a lack of conflict sensitivity among financial institutions, donor risk aversion, and insufficient absorptive capacity in recipient countries. 

Yet there is also a positive shift underway as the international community is increasingly focused on developing a financial ecosystem that is better equipped to handle such complexities.   

INSIGHTS from the episode 

  • Recent studies indicate that countries with higher levels of fragility receive less climate finance, even though these countries are more vulnerable to climate impacts. Evaluations of the UNFCCC financial mechanisms have further emphasized this disparity. To address this, we must acknowledge that existing initiatives to enhance climate resilience lack specificity for fragile and conflict-affected settings. There’s a crucial need for the UNFCCC financial mechanisms to recognize this gap and the significant number of people currently being overlooked. 
  • It’s not solely about the available financial resources; developing countries, particularly those facing fragility and conflict, encounter numerous barriers and challenges. These include cumbersome accreditation and application procedures, which are time-consuming, bureaucratic, and resource-intensive. 
  • Existing efforts in addressing climate impacts on land, water, and ecosystems had overlooked a significant aspect—the contribution to peace and security. There’s a pressing need to recognize the cascading impact of climate on the root causes of fragility and conflict. There’s still relatively very little understanding among the climate change community about conflict and fragility and peace and security and how they relate to adaptation and peace. 
  • In emergencies, immediate humanitarian aid is crucial, yet long-term adaptation investments are also essential. Balancing short-term and long-term needs is vital to ensure timely access to humanitarian finance without impeding necessary investments in adaptation. Short-term capacity-building efforts should contribute to meaningful, long-term economic adaptation. 

Watch the webinar episode here or listen to the podcast here 

 Episode 3: Multiple benefits of climate adaptation for disaster-related displacement 

Speakers in this episode shared some wisdom on how climate adaptation can contribute to displacement prevention and protection. 

Climate change disrupts food, land, and water systems, leading to increased displacement and fragility in rural and urban areas. Investments in climate adaptation can mitigate disaster-related displacement, yet national and international policies are slow to adapt. Existing frameworks, such as the UNSCC Protection Agenda and the Global Compact on Migration, specifically highlight the need to address drivers of displacement and implement anticipatory actions, such as planned relocation due to climate risks.  

Careful design is crucial to ensure effective policies that simultaneously promote climate adaptation, prevent displacement, and provide protection, recognizing the context-specific nature of climate risks and their interactions with displacement, as well as the varied needs and constraints of individuals.  

Speakers in this episode also highlighted actionable pathways for targeted climate adaptation financing, especially in conflict-affected regions for displacement prevention. 

INSIGHTS from the episode 

  • Humanitarian agencies can contribute to climate resilience. The Protection-centered approach, rooted in human rights, provides a holistic view of resilience factors, vulnerabilities, and capacities. It particularly highlights the unique vulnerabilities of groups like women, children, and people with disabilities, ensuring tailored adaptation efforts for marginalized individuals. 
  • Many National Adaptation Plans and commitments lack concrete provisions for displaced populations, raising concerns about effective implementation and tangible outcomes for those affected. Promoting regional cooperation on transboundary issues introduces an often overlooked element in national plans – addressing aspects such as population movements and cross-border displacement. 
  • Directing funding to cities is important for climate adaptation and migration, given that cities are significantly affected and often lack the resources to address the impacts of climate change and migration. This is particularly important for assisting internally displaced communities in relocating from flood-prone areas to safer ones. 
  • We need to develop resource recovery and reuse strategies for local stakeholders, aiming to reduce dependence, increase income, and enhance food security in both displacement camps and surrounding neighborhoods. Solutions are required which are integrated with nature-based interventions to improve environmental health and mitigate disaster risk, contributing to global strategies. 

Watch the webinar episode here or listen to the podcast here. 

In conclusion  

Making Climate Adaptation Work for Everybody” transcends the singular focus on climate threats, presenting a holistic exploration of interconnected global challenges. Over these 3 episodes, we had experts converge to dissect financing mechanisms and explore synergies across climate action, development, peacebuilding, and displacement prevention. 

The insights shared not only illuminate strategies for navigating our complex world but also inspire collective efforts toward building a resilient future that encompasses the diverse facets of our global community. It is imperative we weave together climate adaptation initiatives with broader objectives, as we all share responsibility for a sustainable and inclusive tomorrow. 


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