Select Committee on International Development Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1 - 19)




  1. Good morning. Mr Manning, thank you very much for coming this morning with your colleagues. As the record shows, you are the Director-General, Resources at DFID, Andrew Bennett is the Chief Natural Resources Adviser, Adrian Davis is the Head, Environment Policy Department and Mr Warrilow, you are from DEFRA. Would you just like to tell us your role there?
  (Mr Warrilow) My role is to provide scientific advice on climate change and to ensure that the scientific and technical aspects cover IPCC for example.

  Chairman: I should just like to read you a bit of our brief because we have quite a long brief. If I read you what our agenda is, then that might help you in terms of answering the questions. We shall try to keep our questions as short as possible. It would be useful if this evidence session could help: to understand how DFID deals with an issue whose nature and impact is uncertain; to understand how much DFID knows about climate change and the impact of its projects and programmes relating to climate change; to determine whether DFID is able to forecast the level of effort it will have to put into dealing with climate change issues; to understand what role DFID intends to play in mainstreaming climate change considerations; to discover whether enough is known to be able to enact strategies to help mainstreaming now. The DFID memorandum talks in general terms about what DFID is doing but has few real examples of work which is being undertaken. It would be helpful if during the course of the evidence session the witnesses could be encouraged to give actual examples to illustrate what DFID is doing. Wherever possible, if you could give current examples that would be much appreciated. For example, paragraph 3 of DFID's memorandum lists reasons why environmental considerations have failed to be incorporated into sustainable development but gives no examples. At paragraph 13, it gives no examples of how it is helping countries to integrate environmental issues into Poverty Reduction Strategy Programmes (PRSPs). It does not include any examples to illustrate the kind of work the multilateral agencies DFID is partnered with are carrying out as part of the poverty-environment partnership. At paragraph 26 DFID outlines some work it intends to do raising awareness and describes a "portable model" to assist with planning. Examples of how this might work could be useful. Paragraphs 27-29 deal with mitigation but again give no concrete examples of the actions DFID is taking. I hope that gives a flavour. What we are keen to do is try to relate the general principles to the exact policy work which you are doing.

Mr Khabra

  2. This session is on the Committee's inquiry into global climate change and sustainable development and trying to find out what DFID is doing. Some of the questions will be to identify who is vulnerable. Where are the vulnerable livelihoods and which countries has DFID prioritised for action? How does DFID identify vulnerable communities and vulnerable countries? Is DFID's assessment of vulnerability based only on current environmental risks such as: threats to livelihoods, environmental degradation or natural resource depletion; or is account taken of future risks arising from climate change?
  (Mr Manning) We take as our basis the work which is being done internationally by the IPCC and you have attached to our memorandum the summary of how the IPCC feel that the regional impact will be felt. We take that as the basis for looking at this. Our mandate in DFID is to try to act on world poverty. What we see is that on the whole the most vulnerable people are likely to be the poor people. We see that partly because the regional spread of effects given by the IPCC shows more negative effects in areas of the world where a lot of poor people are living, for example the way in which climate is already changing in the Sahel region of Africa—and I think you will be visiting some of the Sahelian fringe countries in March—similar effects in southern Africa, the possibility of more variability in the monsoon in India and the effect of potentially rising sea levels on areas particularly vulnerable to that, of which Bangladesh would be a particularly good example. We can see a number of countries and regions which look vulnerable; within those we certainly expect that poor people will be particularly vulnerable because of the circumstances where many of the poor people live. How do we prioritise? In general the aim of our programme is to put as much of our effort as possible into those countries where there is a significant number of poor people—that is how we look at the world—and particularly those countries where we see the opportunity of sustainable development and those countries where Britain perhaps has something particular to offer. If you look at the shape of the British aid programme, you will see heavy concentration on parts of sub-Saharan Africa, on South Asia and in a more selective way in other countries, including countries which have traditional links with the UK. We will look at vulnerabilities to climate change, particularly with reference to those countries where there are significant numbers of poor people, because that is our mission. You asked whether we look at it on the basis of present risks or future risks. A crucial factor in the way we look at this is that the direction of climate change is now fairly clear, but the pace of climate change is highly uncertain. What we do expect to see is an intensification of what we already see. For example, everybody expects that hurricanes and cyclones will over time be on average of a higher intensity and that has clear implications for areas like the Caribbean, areas like the Bay of Bengal, where such events already take place and one may expect them to be more significant. In terms of rising sea levels there are obvious parts of the world which are particularly at risk. We should and do take account of the fact that things we already see manifestations of will become more serious over a longer term and hence we try to plan interventions with that in our minds.

Mr Robathan

  3. Do your policies concentrate more on the long-term impacts or on the immediate climatic disasters of which you have spoken or both? How is it reflected and do you think the policies adequately address what are after all the less well understood effects that long-term climatic change will have? It is easy to deal with a hurricane or a typhoon in the Caribbean, but it is much less easy to concentrate on the longer-term impacts and the connection between the increased instance of climatic disasters and long-term impact.
  (Mr Manning) It is difficult to respond directly to the question of whether we pay more attention to the shorter term or the longer term. We are running a programme which is gradually rising. We obviously have a long tradition of trying to respond to immediate emergencies, for example the major event in Orissa a couple of years ago. At the same time we have for several years been looking at the longer term, particularly in terms of disaster preparedness: there has been a long history of working in the Caribbean; we have done work over the years in the Philippines and elsewhere. We are now starting a five-year programme of work with key partners in Bangladesh, which will involve capacity development for government officials in the legal, diplomatic and technical skills needed to negotiate on climate change. It will include installation in Bangladesh of the regional climate model which has been developed by the UK's Hadley Centre, which will help the Bangladesh Government with prediction of impact, with adaptation and awareness raising. We shall be helping the Bangladesh Government to identify funding opportunities under the clean development mechanism which you will be aware of as part of the Kyoto Protocol and in coordinating the institutional response of government and civil society organisations to help ensure that climatic change is seen as a developmental issue with implications for national planning and policy. I should like to stress the importance we see of integrating a consideration of climate change into other national planning processes. There is always an international tendency to look for a specific set of plans to deal with one particular thing and the world is awash with sectoral plans of one sort and another which have not proved very effective. The direction of our policy is very much to try to integrate these considerations into the overall national strategy process, so we are arguing for example for better understanding of environmental and indeed climate change factors, in the way that reduction strategies and other documents which set the agenda for governments among our partners are developed.

Mr Khabra

  4. You mentioned sustainable development. Where sustainability is not possible, what is your attitude to help those countries and conditions such as the ones you mentioned?
  (Mr Manning) What we see in the real world is a great deal of adaptation by people. People in drought conditions do not on the whole stay put. Although it has not been very much publicised, there has been continued deterioration in the rainfall in the Sahel over the last decade compared with previous decades. One knows that the Sahel has had a long history of drought. People have not stayed put under these conditions, there has been a large amount of migration from the Sahel as people adapt to the year by year changes in the climate. We see a lot of adaptation going on and as we look at ways of helping people with their livelihoods we try to help them cope with that. To give you another example, we are developing a programme for working with very poor people on the char lands of Bangladesh, which, as members of the Committee will know, are these extremely vulnerable and often shifting islands in the delta, where, given population pressures in Bangladesh, a lot of people actually live and try to subsist. We are trying to come up with a medium-term programme to work with some of these communities, to help them make themselves less vulnerable to events of all sorts and help them develop their livelihoods. It is not going to be a case of some blueprint which we are going to drop on them: it is going to be a question of working with communities to see what makes sense in circumstances in which they find themselves, in which a whole series of coping mechanisms are likely to be necessary.

Mr Robathan

  5. Climatic change does bring some opportunities for change which can be beneficial to developing countries. Does DFID policy recognise this and assist countries to change crops or whatever it might be? What are you doing to help developing countries ameliorate the negative impacts? You mentioned some things but could you be more specific and in particular could you just for the record clarify one point? You said that you integrate climatic change into the whole of the PRSP. The trouble is that climatic change being a long-term thing people tend to let it drop off the focus. How do you ensure that it is not marginalised by policy makers in developing countries?
  (Mr Manning) May I first of all invite Andrew Bennett to give some examples of the kind of work we are doing under our research programmes to look at the way in which the natural resources sector, for example, can adapt to increasing stress and then I will come onto your question about integration.
  (Mr Bennett) Poor people have a range of assets which they can draw on: themselves, communities in which they live, natural assets of land, physical assets of infrastructure and their own financial assets. When one looks at their livelihoods and their vulnerabilities there are things which they are already doing to cope with extreme and unpleasant events: drought, flood, salt and other things which are already there and which they are coping with. The question is whether these traditional systems which have stood them in such good stead will be able to cope with more frequent and more rapid or longer duration extreme events. The things which emerge very quickly in discussions with these societies is that community cohesion, social capital, is extremely important. The way in which communities respond and work together is a very important tool and one needs to build with that grain. The other extreme events they will have to handle are increasing flood, increasing drought, problems of salinity building up, higher temperatures, greater incidence of pests and diseases and a change in the productivity of coastal zones on which they depend. It is possible—and we are already doing it—to help communities adapt their own varieties and farming systems to cope with drought, with flood, with higher temperatures. In many cases, if you look at the Sahelian zone, what in fact has happened is that the Sahel has moved 100 kilometres south. The varieties of crop which were traditionally grown further north are now moving down. It is possible to help communities use their own knowledge and understanding but also to start to augment it through doing research. For example, techniques of zero tillage, which means that you do not plough the land, save not only energy but water and it makes it easier for farmers to do it. This is being done now in vast areas of the Gangetic plain in India and elsewhere in Central and South America. Simple techniques of rainwater harvesting allow communities to trap water. They often need help doing it, not necessarily because they did not know it needed doing, but in the dry season many of them had to migrate. In India large numbers of people migrate to urban areas because it is the only place they can get work to pay for food. If you can provide them with food and support in the country they can build up their own water harvesting techniques, dig their own wells and remain on the land and retain social cohesion at the same time. Very simple techniques like seed priming—soaking the seed before you plant it—improves germination can increase yields at the back end of the year considerably. Salt tolerance—here we are looking primarily at the mechanisms for salt tolerance. How is it that some plants can grow in salty areas and not others? Drought resistance—there is a thing called a grass pea which is often seen as a famine food in many parts of the world but it is actually toxic. It contains an alkaloid which makes you feel very unwell. You can now breed out that toxicity and we have worked with ICARDA (International Centre of Agricultural Research in Dry Areas) to do this; this is one of the international research centres. What I am sketching a picture of is that there are many things which are already happening. You have to start where the communities are, you have to keep that social cohesion, you have to work with the grain, but there are many techniques and technologies which are now coming in which will allow them to do better because we hope that the changes will come gradually. Many of them will choose in the end not to farm; they will seek non-farm and off-farming work but that is looking at other parts of the economy and the work going on under the poverty reduction strategies.
  (Mr Manning) You asked about how well able we are to help people integrate longer-term considerations into what are often seen as quite short-term decisions such as poverty reduction strategies which are very here and now in the context of debt reduction and the rest of it. The answer is that it is never going to be easy to get fully appropriate balance here, but—and this is a crucial point for the Committee—many of the things which countries should be doing anyway are likely to be positive in a world of climate change. For example, basic things like good governance, free access to the media, better educated population, are all going to be investments which are going to stand countries in good stead in the kind of stresses which climate change will bring on. A lot of the good policies which we would be encouraging any way are policies which will help resilience to climate change. It is fair to say that the origin of the policy reduction strategies, very much in the context of HIPC and the very severe financial short-term difficulties faced by many developing countries, have meant that in many developing countries the activity, at least initially, was seen very much as a kind of Finance Ministry exercise. We have worked quite hard with the international agencies, with other donors, with recipient countries, to try to broaden the dialogue which goes into poverty reduction strategies, particularly as we move from interim poverty reduction strategies to the full PRSP. If the Committee agree, I should like to invite Adrian Davis to say a word or two about the way in which we have worked in Uganda to try to integrate the environmental dimension, not specifically the climate change dimension but the environmental dimension, into the PRSP in that country because it is quite an interesting example that we would like to see used more widely.
  (Mr Davis) The Uganda example is given in our target strategy paper on page 49, but we were instrumental in ensuring that the poverty eradication action plan involved the national environmental management authority. We got them involved in trying to integrate longer-term environment and sustainability issues. This would encompass climate change but not necessarily focus on it specifically. We have been working more generally on this issue in partnership with others because it does not really make sense to try to do things by ourselves and the two examples are particularly specific co-operation with the World Bank. There is an analysis which shows that environmental sustainability considerations have improved as we move from an interim to a full PRSP and the document you had by the World Bank on poverty reduction strategies and environment illustrate this by means of a numerical scoring system. You could argue with the method but it shows an improvement. We have been co-financing with the World Bank a series of workshops in Africa and Asia and we shall do a series in Latin America too, bringing together Finance Ministry officials and Environment Ministry officials to talk around the general issues along with civil society and the private sector, to talk around the issues of integrating longer-term considerations into the poverty reduction strategy process. The whole sort of ethos of the poverty environment partnership, which is referred to in the memorandum, and on which we have the first draft of the report which will be submitted to the next preparatory committee of WSSD and we shall make available to the Committee, looks at both the micro issues which we have been talking about and the macro issues of integrating environment into PRSPs and it is quite powerful set of organisations which all have the same message. Obviously we are talking from the environmental side, we are therefore people who are committed to trying to get environment into PRSPs. We think it is a sufficiently influential bloc to make sure that the message is understood and received. It is really raising awareness and showing how the environment can be integrated and the relative importance of environmental issues in relation to other actions to reduce poverty. It is clear that you cannot have sustainable poverty reduction without taking account of the environment and natural resources constraints more generally.

Mr Battle

  6. May I ask about the internal workings of DFID and how you handle this agenda? Do you have a unit which deals with climate change? Are they research specialists? Do they then feed information across to the programme departments? Do you rely on the IPCC or the Hadley Centre or advice from experts in DEFRA? How do you ensure that the advice you are getting feeds into the programme part of the Department so that it really is mainstreamed?
  (Mr Manning) That is a very important set of questions and one which we often reflect on internally to try to get it right. I would say this is not an issue specific to environmental climate change. You could take almost any subject which might be of interest to the development and ask yourself how you mainstream it. To give you another obvious example, take disability, clearly a major problem in developing countries, what is the right amount of attention which we should be giving in our programmes to disability? We have to make a series of judgements. The way in which we seek to do this is that we have the side of the office which is managed by our chief advisers—Andrew is here as our Chief Natural Resources Adviser and we have advisers in education, health, economics and so on. Under their control are resources for research and development, some of the research Andrew has talked about, which helps us to understand the science, to understand the social science and try to make sense of whatever the subject happens to be. It is fair to say that DFID is one of the bilateral agencies which has invested significant amounts broadly speaking in the research side of our work over many years. There has been a long tradition going back over decades of paying serious attention to these issues. Secondly, chief advisers play a very important role internationally in trying to work with others in the international community to move opinion forward. You can see that in many areas. You can see it in malaria research, you can see it in the way the debt thing was handled and so on. Andrew has important links with his colleagues in other agencies, the key multilaterals Adrian has referred to and so on. We try to work very much with our international partners in this. At country level, as the Committee knows, we have a series of strategies for our various country programmes. Choices are made as to what priorities should be that we operate in those countries. I have brought with me the strategies for Ghana and Nigeria as I know you are going there shortly and climate change does not loom very large among them. We are doing work which is relevant to that. For example, no doubt you will see the work we are doing on the forestry sector in Ghana which is an interesting example, but we have to make choices at country level as to what is most important in the here and now, given our role is usually as a modest, medium-sized donor to the country concerned in response to the overall priorities that country has. We are increasingly trying to build our programmes and priorities around these poverty reduction strategies based on the experience of many years that interventions do not work unless they are seriously owned by the countries concerned. Getting the countries themselves to give the right kind of weight to these various issues, as it might be disability or as it might be climate change, is a very important part of this. We are also looking at a higher level of aggregation as to the sort of objectives we should be achieving in our programmes as a whole and our programmes in particular regions. This is linked very much in our objective setting in the Department to the international development targets and the millennium development goals. In both the White Papers we have published we have made very clear our commitment to reducing poverty and measuring our progress against these international development targets which have now been enshrined in the millennium development goals. Increasingly we are holding our programme managers accountable for the progress they are making against these quite hard edged objectives. If you look at our present public service agreement, you will see that we have quite specific targets, for example for raising the proportion of children in primary education, decreasing child mortality by very specific amounts over a period. We are in the process at the moment of designing a new public service agreement which we shall need to agree with the Treasury as part of the spending round which takes place this year and we are looking at how to ensure that these millennium development goals and these national development targets are properly rooted in our system so that we can be accountable against them. These goals include environmental objectives and as part of this process we shall need to ensure that we as a department are sufficiently credible in demonstrating programmes which deliver against the environmental objectives in the millennium goals and international development targets as well as to all the others.

  7. In the Foreign Office there is a unit as well dealing with environment which informs programmes where climate change could be of strategic interest; initiatives in water management in the central European states for example. Do you have meetings with them and co-ordinate with them and liaise with them so that it is seen as an inter-departmental concern?
  (Mr Manning) Yes. I personally feel that the Whitehall linkages in this area are pretty good but I should like to invite Adrian again to speak to this. I should say that Adrian heads our Environment Policy Department, which is where these environmental and sustainable development interests come together. Adrian has in a way two key jobs. One is the international influence involved, this work with other agencies to which he has referred. That includes of course managing important things like our contribution to the global environment facility which is one of the largest single contributions we make in this area. Secondly, it is very much about consciousness raising within the Department and trying to get more understanding of these issues and greater buy-in across the Department. I may say that as one attempt to improve the way we do this my colleague David Warrilow is coming over to address our senior management committee next month and to give us an update on current scientific thinking on climate change and the way that impacts on the programme. I think that will also be a useful intervention in trying to get a better understanding among senior managers as to how significant these issues are.
  (Mr Davis) There is very close co-operation between the government departments, tribute to that co-operation is that the Foreign Office actually changed its name to replicate ours. They were Energy, Environment and Science and they have now become Environment Policy Department. Before I reply on the specifics, may I draw your attention to an omission in the memorandum. We should have mentioned, and I thought we had, that we have launched a major study on the impact the climate change may have on the millennium development goals, how it might affect the millennium goals. It is a consultancy study. We agreed consultants towards the end of last year and we are having our first steering committee meeting next month. When we discussed this within DFID about six or nine months ago at the genesis of it, we got a lot of interest—unusually I have to say—from our geographical programmes and from other sectoral specialists. This kind of long-term strategic thinking is a relatively new construct, climate change is also a long-term issue. The combination of the two engendered quite a lot of interest. The consultants we have engaged are a consortium from Environmental Resources Management (ERM), but other partners include the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), the Meteorological Office and Oxford Policy Management. It is in its early stages. We have agreed terms of reference, we have agreed the first phase work. It is going to be a relatively long study over a couple of years and it is going to be broken into three phases. If the Committee is interested, we shall make available the terms of reference and our assessment of what we hope to achieve in the first phase. We will do that.[7] The other thing to say is that there is not much significant difference between the set of International Development Targets and the millennium goals except with respect to environment. We have quoted the Millennium Development Goal in the memorandum, but it is a significant difference because it talks about integrating the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reversing the loss of environmental resources. That is different from the IDT and it is worth saying why it is important, because the IDT statement of a national strategy for sustainable development in all countries acted as a barrier to integration. People did not understand why there should be a separate strategy, what the genesis of the strategy was. From our point of view the Millennium Development Goal is very important. Our public service agreement talks about incorporating the principles of sustainability in ten key partner countries. It is the public service agreement that we are using as part of a kind of carrot and stick approach—we do not really have any sticks in DFID of course; it is mainly carrots. A key thing is to try to create incentives for people to do things, not really force them to because it does not work, but, within the public service agreement we have agreed with country desks that there will be 11 key countries that we will specifically concentrate on working with in looking at incorporation of environment, sustainable development and climate change as part of that nexus of issues. It is not in the memorandum, but from memory the 11 countries are Kenya, India, China, Russia, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Nepal and Ghana; a heavy preponderance on Africa, which reflects the number of PRSP processes and incorporation of environmental considerations; the two big emitters and obviously very influential players on the environmental scene, India and China and of course Russia. It gives us an ability to discuss and take forward some of these issues with country programmes who profess themselves willing to do this and that is of course very important.

Mr Colman

  8. I am assuming there is a twelfth country, which of course is the UK. I see you list them in your annex as one of the five countries which you are working on. In showing the weakness within the millennium goals, in terms of dealing with issues of climate change and sustainable development and the need to unpack that and to get more specificity there, do you think that one of the goals which should be at the Rio+10 summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg this year should be to split out and have more detail in terms of the millennium goals rather than the rather weak goal which is there at the moment?
  (Mr Davis) There is this famous road map behind the millennium development goals which talks about specific actions. You cannot really quantify this Millennium Development Goal, which may be both an advantage and a disadvantage and any environmental issues need to be looked at on a country specific basis. There is no real substitute for taking the millennium goal as a call for action and using that to influence and persuade people that these issues are important and of course to unpack the issues relevant and relative to what the country circumstances are. There will be further discussions within the UN system. I am not sure WSSD will do that unpacking because it needs to be done in a country context and ideally in the context of the PRSP kind of negotiations.

  Mr Colman: Might I suggest that every single millennium goal needs to be done on a country basis and there is a need to get measurability but clearly evidence we have had so far is that there is measurability there. I shall leave with you the thought that we have 6 months to go and one of the things which could be there is that the world has within the millennium goals some sort of measurability on climate change and sustainable development.

Mr Worthington

  9. I understand when you were asked how much you had committed to climate change you found it a difficult question and called in consultants and they identified perhaps £200 million which could be devoted. It is a perverse question in a way but do you not think it was right that you should have found it difficult?
  (Mr Manning) Yes, I do and I have looked at this consultancy study and I am not sure that this is quite the right approach. I say that because I do think that many of the interventions we are seeking to make are interventions which are going to strengthen resilience to climate change and I slightly resist the idea of drawing a line round something and saying this is relevant to climate change and that is not. To my mind educating girls is relevant to climate change. These things are all going to help developing countries become more resilient to the kind of pressures on them. I strongly believe in the work Amartya Sen did on famines and Amartya Sen famously said that famines are not caused by shortages of food but are caused by lack of democracy. That is right. We have seen in many countries that when there is information, when people actually think about the environment, when there is an opportunity to challenge governments, when you change systems, this is extremely important to how issues are dealt with. I rather resist the idea that we should have a package of things with a boundary round it called interventions to do with climate change. That is not to say we should not be doing things which are important, for example working with the G7 on the pilot project for conservation of Brazilian rain forests, something which is highly relevant to mitigating climate change. We are funding a programme in China with the World Bank which is going to be quite substantial and will essentially improve energy efficiency in China which is one of the key interventions. You will see in the memorandum that one of the most striking developments over the last 15 years is that the energy efficiency of the Chinese economy has radically improved. We are doing things which are directly relevant to this but I personally feel the most important thing we can do is to promote pro-poor development, particularly as poor people are the people who are going to be most vulnerable to all this. If we can make fewer people poor, there will be less vulnerability to climate change.

  10. So any recommendation which came out of this Committee to establish offices or departments for climate change would be counter-productive.
  (Mr Manning) We certainly need capacity essentially to understand the climate change agenda, to inform ourselves about the climate change agenda and to invest sufficiently in the underpinning research to understand what is going on. We do not need to be experts in all this ourselves, but we need to have access to the expertise which David and others have and we need to use that to shape the programmes and to encourage the way people think. I would not myself counsel the Committee to recommend a certain proportion of the aid programme to deal with climate change, any more than I would encourage you to do that for disability or AIDS or any other subject.

  11. I was struck by what Adrian said about the way you got organised before. You had environment in a box and the fact that it was in a box was preventing environment having an impact. You said something like that.
  (Mr Davis) I would argue that the climate change expertise in the way Richard has mentioned does reside in the Environment Policy Department. What happened was that we were much more focused three years ago on the international negotiations, not just for climate change but for biodiversity, etcetera and we had rather assumed that environmental issues were adequately integrated into DFID programmes. We had an evaluation report which suggested that was not necessarily the case, so we tried to change our efforts to look at how we could be seen to be more credible by trying to mainstream these environmental issues within DFID. It has not been in a box. We lead on general environmental issues, but we can only do so in co-operation with country programmes. One of the most important issues is to raise the level of environmental awareness among DFID staff as well.

  12. I can see the desirability of mainlining environmental issues, but do you not sometimes have to do the opposite thing which is to say that this is not for us, this is going beyond what DFID can do. This is for multilateral activity, it is for European activity, it is for the World Bank, for other people to be tackling because this is expanding development on a country basis beyond what it can cope with and we need other people in there.
  (Mr Manning) That is certainly true and a key observation of the first White Paper in 1997 was that there were very severe limits to what Britain could do on their own, but there was a great deal we could do in working with our international partners. This is a classic case where that is true; it is particularly true of the science. The IPCC has been a very important investment of the global community in a general understanding of the science and a common understanding of the science. It would make no sense to do that on an individual country basis. Equally we certainly do not believe and our Secretary of State does not believe that we should be doing everything in every country where we are operating. We have to be selective as a matter of management and common sense. What we need to help our partners to ensure is that the right kind of attention is given to the longer-term issues when very naturally a lot of our partners are focusing very much on the next six months.

  13. It does seem to me that it is a very, very important issue, if there is a problem about desertification or water management and so on, to get the right international response rather than the right British response. How do you feel about that?
  (Mr Manning) In some areas there is a very strong underpinning for it. The international research institutes for agriculture, of which Andrew is the greatest living expert, are a very important part of this in that particular area. I do not know whether David has any observations about the way in which it works on the international scientific side, but my impression is that that is quite constructive.
  (Mr Warrilow) I could say a little bit about the IPCC process where internationally scientists are brought together to assess what research has been done. It is important to bear in mind that IPCC does what is already there and it builds upon the work which is funded by different countries individually. We fund quite a lot of research in this country and a lot of that research finds its way into the IPCC process. An important point to make is that the IPCC tries not to get involved in the politics of climate change so that it does not deal with specific countries but deals with the regional and general aspects of climate change. Specific examples can be found in the reports but at the summary level it draws on the general approach. At the end of the day it does not put any new research into the system other than assimilating and reviewing what is already there. To develop the science it has to be done at country level or regional grouping level.
  (Mr Manning) Another very important part of the multilateral establishment has been both the Montreal protocol work and now of course the global environment facility and Adrian is leading on the replenishment negotiations for that. The thing for the Committee to keep an eye on over the next few months is how those negotiations finish up. We certainly believe strongly in a multinational approach wherever possible. That is one of the reasons why we built this alliance with the UNDP, World Bank and European Community, together an important player, in an attempt to get the whole international system thinking the same way.

  14. Another question I have is about environmental issues and particularly climate change being given sufficient weight in country strategy papers. Could I take it that the ten countries you have mentioned which are becoming involved are ones where environmental issues are specifically highlighted in country strategy papers? Or is this a general issue?
  (Mr Davis) There are both country strategy papers and annual programme performance reviews. Increasingly I would expect the fact that these countries are focus countries for the PSA would lead to a requirement to start reporting in the APPRs each year against the PSA targets. So yes, there will be a linkage within those papers.
  (Mr Manning) I should perhaps explain the system for you. We write country strategies on a three- or four-year basis. I was glancing at the Ghana one, which is really quite out of date now as it is a 1998 document but there is presumably about to be a new one. We now have a system where for all significant programmes there is an annual programme performance review which, unlike these, are not published documents but they are important internal management documents in which among other things we assess how each country programme is performing against the objectives which have been set in the CSP. We adjust those objectives when it seems sensible to do so ahead of the next main country strategy and we do look at how that country is performing against the various targets in the PSA including the environmental one. This is a process which has started over the last 12 months. We shall see a greater focus in those 11 countries in the direction we are talking about.

  15. So in the second wave country strategy papers the environment is bursting through, is it?
  (Mr Davis) I have not seen many country strategy papers recently. I am not sure what the cycle is. We may be in a kind of fallow period for the production of the major country strategy papers. I would expect it to be highlighted in the 11 focus countries at least. May I just add one other thing we are thinking of doing? Because the poverty environment paper joint production has been well received, the European Commission suggested that we might like to try to replicate that for climate change and we are actively pursuing that as an idea. We have not had comments yet from the World Bank/UNDP but it seems to us a sensible thing to try to do.


  16. May I ask a rather boring machinery of government question? This year we have Rio+10 at Johannesburg. Who in the machinery of government is responsible for working out policy on that, working up objectives? Who leads? Which member of the Cabinet leads? Am I right in thinking that so far the only heads of government to have committed themselves to attending Johannesburg are our Prime Minister, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg and the President of Venezuela? Does DFID have policy objectives for Johannesburg and what are they and how do they relate to what we are discussing this morning?
  (Mr Manning) Government is indeed developing and has developed a core script for Johannesburg. There is an inter-departmental process which is led at official level by DEFRA. To my mind it works pretty well. There is also a ministerial process which involves the Deputy Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Foreign Secretary, our own Secretary of State and other departments in the usual way and which has now had a couple of meetings and will go on meeting regularly in the run-up to Johannesburg. Adrian, do you have an update on which heads of government are coming?
  (Mr Davis) The Foreign Office have done a lobbying exercise. There is some doubt but I think Putin has also said he will attend. Most people are saying it is too early in the replies we get to telegrams etcetera, but they are confident their Head of State will attend. Those are the only ones who have formally accepted.
  (Mr Manning) My impression is that there will be quite a lot of heads of state and governments there, but it is a bit early in the cycle to be sure. What is certain is that the British Government are taking this event seriously. We see it as quite linked to the Financing for Development event which is taking place in Monterrey in March; the same issues will come up in both. Some of these issues will be revisited at the Kananaskis summit which falls between the two and the various departments concerned with all these events are very much in touch with each other and trying to adopt a consistent policy through the whole cycle of events this year.

Mr Colman

  17. Taking us back to the big picture, what do you see as your prime approach as DFID for dealing with the effect of climatic disasters and long-term climate change? Is it adaptation, mitigation or population displacement? Which of the three is really your mainstream forward?
  (Mr Manning) It is a very important question. I was reflecting as I was thinking about this on the way we deal with AIDS, where again the issue is how much is trying to operate on the prevention side and how much is dealing with the consequences. What we do not do in either case is say we are going to spend this much on AIDS and decide ex ante that we are going to spend this much on prevention or research for a vaccine and this much on curative measures. We try instead to optimise mainly at country level what interventions are most useful. Obviously mitigation is very important. I have referred already to the significance of what has been happening in China. To my mind the most important single mitigation factor is the appropriate pricing of energy. The Chinese example shows that very clearly. What has happened in Eastern Europe shows it pretty clearly as well. We need to reduce the energy intensity of production and this is a very wide agenda. It involves lots of new investment, it involves new technology, it involves in particular giving consumers, including notably industrial consumers, the right kind of price signals so that they take sensible investment decisions over the medium term. I have given an example where we are working on that with the World Bank in China. There is quite an agenda of both energy efficiency type measures but also—and this is not captured in the statistics—as you work through poverty reduction strategies, as countries increasingly realise that they cannot afford environmentally unsound subsidies, of which there are many in developing countries, then the energy intensity of production will gradually fall. As long as people are getting energy at very low rates or are being inappropriately subsidised you are not going to see much progress. That is probably the biggest single area, although it is by no means the only one. There is a huge agenda in forestry for example and so on. On adaptation, it is quite clear that adaptation not only needs to take place, but is taking place. People do adapt. I was just being told as I came into the room of a very interesting example in Bangladesh where the loss of life in comparable sized cyclones has fallen very dramatically. Over 300,000 were killed in the events in 1971; something like 100,000 were killed in the event in 1991 and round about 100 killed or something like that in a very comparable event in 1998 and that is because there has been an investment in cyclone shelters, there has been an investment in prevention, people have learned to their cost that they need to heed the warnings. There are better communications and you cannot entirely make it like with like, but it is clear that Bangladesh, because of sensible investment, has made itself somewhat less vulnerable to some of these events than would have been the case even ten years ago. There is a lot more that can be done in this way. For example, we are funding a study to look at the likely impact of climate change on our own overseas territories. This will help the overseas territories consider what they themselves can do in our support to make themselves less vulnerable to climate change. We see that as a sensible investment for many countries. As I have said already, a key part of adaptation is building on things people should be doing anyway and on a lot of the things that need to happen. If you adopt the kind of livelihoods approach that we tend to adopt when we look at area based development, if we are dealing let us say with the rain fed areas of India, where we have quite some experience now, the rain fed areas of India are a classic case where they will become more vulnerable to climate change because rainfall patterns will become more erratic, maybe droughts will be longer, some of these issues about the kind of crops you grow, some of these issues about how far you depend on agriculture and how far you develop other means of livelihood strategies become very significant. As we develop programmes, for example in the tribal areas of Orissa, we have to look at what the main risks to people are, including the risks arising from climate change. So there will be a series of interventions which you will see around the globe which will reflect the way in which the variability we can see already in the natural environment—and our perception of that variability is going to grow—should be informing the way projects are designed.

  18. In a sense you have answered the rest of my question in terms of looking at project and programme evaluations within DFID. May I ask a tangential one? I was interested in your first reply which was mitigation and dealing with energy policy. To what extent are you involved with the OECD convention on export credit agencies and environmental considerations where there is an attempt by the United States to ensure that renewable technology exports get priority over fossil fuel energy technologies, something the UK Government has as yet not backed in terms of signing that convention? Do you get involved when there are in fact export credit approvals for fossil fuel energy technology exports to developing countries? Do you get consulted on that? Do you take an active interest in that?
  (Mr Manning) It is down to the Export Credits Guarantee Department and their sponsor ministry which is the Department of Trade and Industry to take decisions on export credit cases, as you will know from looking at dams in Turkey for example. We have advised ECGD on approaches they might adopt to looking at environmental consequences of export credit but it is for them to take these decisions and to look for advice where they can find it. If they come to us we will help to put them in touch with useful sources of expertise but it is their decision to do that. We certainly strongly support, as indeed do they, the idea of getting better environmental understanding into the export credit business, but I am not aware of the specific distinctions being made here between renewables and fossil fuel exports. I am not aware that there is a proposition which would in any way ban export credits for fossil fuel projects.

  19. Not ban but would certainly give less priority to them and less help. Could we have a note in terms of what DFID and DEFRA are doing in looking at this area on a cross-government basis, dealing with the need to move to less CO2 emitting energy technology with developing countries?[8]

  (Mr Manning) You will be aware that there was an exercise in the run-up to the Naples summit looking at renewable energy and there is ongoing work in Whitehall internationally on how to promote sustainable renewable energy. The economics of renewable energy continue to improve and they are expected to improve further over time. There remains an interesting question as to the case for a degree of public subsidy to enhance the take-up of such technology.

7   Not printed. Copy placed in the Library. Back

8   Ev 37. Back

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