Vulnerability to climate change can exacerbate the impacts of non-climatic stressors such as increased migration, rapid urbanization, uncertain energy security, unsustainable management of natural resources and the loss of traditional coping mechanisms. Responding to climate change is not simply a matter of reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions into the earth’s atmosphere, but is also about helping countries to build adaptive capacity and develop a sense of preparedness to reduce its negative impacts. In order to achieve this, it is important to understand the framework of analysis for gender, nutrition and climate change that addresses vulnerabilities, adaptation, mitigation and the manner in which engagement can take place.

Climate change has considerable impacts on rain-fed agricultural productivity and expected future climate change by 2050 is foreseen:

  • Temperatures are very likely to increase 0.5 – 2°C;
  • Rainfall highly variable (-25% to +30%), highly influenced by El Niño events;
  • Some areas slightly warmer & wetter, others much hotter and drier;
  • Impacts to fall hardest on most vulnerable famers.

Climate change issues have traditionally been thought as being scientific in nature with technical solutions. However, as social considerations (and the realization that social issues are intricately linked with climate change) infiltrate this narrow conception, such beliefs are slowly being altered to reflect a more complete and realistic reflection of the climate change paradigm. There should be more leverage and lobbying undertaken along with the promotion of women’s participation in climate change decisions-making at all levels. There are opportunities to ensure women’s participation in climate negotiations through partnerships and to strengthen capacities in crisis-related gender analysis, including the incorporation of gender statistics into assessments of disaster risks, impacts and needs.

Climate vulnerabilities and risks

Climate change impact scenarios are to be linked to gender, existing livelihoods, to identify key climate vulnerabilities and risks at community level. To addresses climate vulnerabilities and risks, it is important to realize that the way programs are developed, planning processes are designed and implemented, the HOW, is as important as the plan of activities, the WHAT, which are ultimately identified and implemented.

As part of the capacity development systems approach, assessments to which extent national level strategic plans, policies and budgeting processes (enabling environment) create conducive conditions, mandates and accountabilities at the local government level for “good quality” local planning processes are to be developed. At the same time the quality of community development processes and the capacities for integrating climate vulnerabilities and risks into participatory planning processes needs to be well considered, as these are key in developing appropriate local level annual development plans and budgets, and which will help identify areas for public private partnerships.

National partners’ approaches have to be built on the premises that local (government) implementation capacity for mainstreaming climate change into planning and budgeting largely depends on how well the planning process is designed to interlink with community and national level processes. While building upon existing planning and budgeting processes, key elements within the local planning process to ensure meaningful local development, whilst addressing climate vulnerabilities and risks are to be strengthened.

Key elements of a “good” local planning process identified are:

  1. Downscaling climate change scenarios and localizing impacts;
  2. Using climate vulnerability and risk assessment (CVRA) methodologies to the inform local planning process;
  3. How asset-based planning processes lead to community self-action and build resilience and adaptation capacity;
  4. The importance of ensuring that identified community demand is prioritized in annual (local) development plans;
  5. Ensuring that proposed project for climate resilience sub-grant funding are indeed clearly linked to climate change and not mainstream development pressures;
  6. The need for approved annual local government budgets and a clear link between annual development plan and budget;
  7. How local government planning can benefit from a vibrant civil society and private sector engagement through multi-stakeholder process design;
  8. The importance of addressing climate vulnerabilities and risks at the right scale, e.g. household, community, sub-district, district, watershed, and national;
  9. The usefulness of strategic local government planning processes, framed within national strategic development frameworks, for informing multi-year and annual plan development processes on climate vulnerabilities and risks; and
  10. The usefulness to identify other CVRA and planning processes at the local level, e.g. sector, NGO or project driven, to inform the annual local government planning process.

Since climate change is a cross-sectoral issue, it is important that local government plans integrated climate change scenarios, impact projections and climate vulnerabilities and risks. For the development of such plans an intense CVRA methodology can be utilized to adapt to new developments and climate change information and to provide concrete inputs to specific programs.

Many countries developed National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA) to address immediate climate change adaptation needs. Much of the funding remained however at central levels and within large projects. In order to bring down the adaptation action and funding more to local levels the Local Adaptation Plan of Action (LAPA) were introduced, as a means to analyze specifically climate change impacts and  vulnerabilities as part of the a bottom-up planning process, often implemented through parallel project resources. The challenge is thus how to integrate the identified LAPA projects within national programs and the annual development planning and budgeting process of local governments, so as to in future finance them through decentralized grants (for example) instead of through project funding.

The solution

Required climate change adaptation strategies and actions may go beyond the existing reality and thinking of communities, e.g. research on more resilient crops, or more comprehensive “technical” solutions are required as e.g. larger watershed management interventions. Solution finding for identified community challenges and ensuring long-term sustainability, thus needs to be complemented by further assessments and solution finding at higher plan levels. This is especially valid where climate change impacts and vulnerabilities manifest themselves at a scale beyond communities, through e.g. up-stream and downstream linkages of impacts (deforestation, flash flooding, slope erosion, and coastal erosion), or where adaptation solutions require comprehensive action and larger resources (e.g. watershed management and conservation planning, large-scale water storage facilities, coastal protection works and coordinated disaster preparedness interventions).

Vulnerability and risk mapping at higher plan levels (federal/woreda in Ethiopia, DDCs, VDCs in Nepal) could be an important addition to the CVRA approaches at community level. Each planning level, household, community, district and national has its own role and mandate, ensuring that lower level processes are facilitated and empowered within the context of a larger level understanding of challenges and opportunities.