some default text...
Select Committee on International Development Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)


  1.  The overall goal of the programme is to enhance understanding of the linkages between sustainable development and climate change. The objectives of the programmes are to:

    —  Improve the understanding of climate change impacts for poor developing countries including both policy makers and poor groups.

    —  Improve the decision making capacities in vulnerable developing countries to cope with impacts of climate change.

    —  Improve the negotiating capacities of poor developing countries in the climate change negotiations through analysis of issues relevant to them.

    —  Improve the sustainable livelihoods opportunities of poor communities in developing countries in light of possible climate change impacts.

  2.  The focus and approach of the programme is:

    —  To work in collaboration with partner organisations and individuals in developing countries.

    —  To work in partnership with collaborating institutions and individuals in the developed countries for advocacy on behalf of the poor communities in developing countries.

    —  To ensure that lessons learned from research and analysis are transmitted effectively to policy makers in developing as well as developed countries.

    —  To mainstream climate change concerns into national strategies and policies in relevant sectors.

    —  To ensure both south-south and north-south flows of relevant information.

  3.  The priority themes of the programme are:

    —  Enhancing adaptation capacity in developing countries.

    —  Climate Change and sustainable livelihoods linkages in developing countries.

    —  Capacity strengthening in developing countries.

    —  Information dissemination (on both mitigation as well as adaptation).

    —  Equity in relation to developing country emission targets.

    —  Enhancing opportunities for developing countries to take advantage of opportunities offered for Carbon Trading (including CDM).


  4.  The potential impact of global climate change on development and developing countries, and especially on poor people in those countries with particular reference to the benefits and adverse effects of global climate change and how these can be harnessed or mitigated. This will include the extent to which developing countries and particularly the poor in developing countries are more susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change and less able to adapt to any benefits: According the third assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published in 2001 many of the developing countries in Africa , Asia and Latin America and small island states including some of the poorest countries of the developing world are the most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. Thus for these countries the impacts of climate change will likely be to set back their efforts at development for several decades (if action to adapt or cope with climate change is not incorporated into their development planning and strategies from now). IIED has been working with its local partners in many of those countries to ensure that national level activities in response to international environmental agreements (including climate change as well as others) are responded to in a such a manner as to make sense from the sustainable development perspective of the developing country itself. Measures need to be taken to strengthen the (already stretched) capacity of institutions and civil society in those countries to adapt to climate change (in keeping with national sustainable development strategies) as well as support their efforts to develop along a sustainable path. The capacities for enhancing the resilience of such countries include information, infrastructure as well as appropriate investments.

  5.  The extent to which developing countries will be disproportionately affected by climate change and the extent to which it will increase disparities between developed and developing countries: Given that the poorest countries of the world are growing poorer relative to the richest already even without factoring in the impacts of climate change it stands to reason that the adverse impacts of climate change on the poorest countries will increase such disparities as well. However unlike under the normal international aid regime the possibility of international fund flows under a climate change regime could possibly benefit some of the poorest countries (at least those with relatively high populations) if the international targets for greenhouse gas emissions for the developing countries were to be allocated on the basis of per-capita entitlements to the global atmosphere. This will depend largely on the ability of those countries to negotiate effectively in the international negations leading up to the second commitment period (after 2008).The UK government can assist those countries to enhance their negotiating capacity in order to help them play a significant part in the international negotiations.

  6.  The extent to which climate change will affect the likelihood of conflict: In many parts of the world a traditional coping strategy for poor communities has been to migrate, either seasonally or for longer periods. Sometimes these are within different parts of a single country (eg much of the migration to urban areas in developing countries ) as well as across international borders (eg for large populations in the Sahel and Caribbean islands). The number of people migrating (both within countries as well as across international borders) due to environmental factors is increasing rapidly. It is more than likely that climate change impacts will exacerbate this trend leading to greater pressure for poor and vulnerable communities to migrate to cities or across international borders.

  7.  Potential pathways for environmentally sustainable development: IIED's work over many years on assisting countries to develop national sustainable development strategies and learn from that experiences has demonstrated the importance of incorporating national development strategies with all the other external environmental threats, specially climate change (for those countries most at risk). The UK government can encourage and assist developing countries to ensure that their national strategies for sustainable development (nssds) incorporate climate change issues and actions.

  8.  The nature of uncertainty in climate change forecasts, and the extent to which such uncertainty impedes policy formulation at present: Although the issue of enhancing the level of uncertainty in the climate forecasts (specially to make them more reliable at regional and national levels)—the existing model results are sufficient to proceed to focus work on the study (and enhancing of) adaptive capacity in the most vulnerable developing countries. Thus the need now is not so much to enhance the capabilities of the models but to use the existing model results for countries to prepare plans for both mitigation as well as adaptation to climate change. It is also important for the developing countries to be able to carry out such modelling themselves (or at least have access to regionally located centres where such capacity exists).

  9.  Measures for monitoring the adverse impacts of climate change, including present vulnerability and adaptive capacity: Measurement and monitoring of vulnerability and adaptation is of great importance for the developing countries in particular. IIED's own work on measurement of vulnerability and adaptation is focusing on methodologies (including information, analysis, use of multi-stakeholder groups, etc) which are easy and robust enough for local institutions and communities to apply for themselves in the developing countries as they will be the ones most affected and in need of being able to measure and monitor impacts.

  10.  Identification of countries or vulnerable situations that are a priority for adaptation: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has prioritised the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as being the most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change and also amongst the least capable to cope with these impacts. IIED's work with these countries has focused on finding ways to develop adaptation strategies which are compatible with national sustainable development goals and strategies and which build on existing national and local resilience and capacities both in the governments as well as in civil society in those countries. The island states have been relatively effective in the international negations by forming the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) early on and using international development assistance to engage expertise from the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) in London, UK. The LDCs have been relatively slow to organise themselves in the climate change negotiations (they are relatively more active in the WTO negotiations). However they have recently become more active and IIED has been working closely with them, specially on the issue of adaptation to climate change which is of primary importance to them.

  11.  The presence or absence of national or local coping strategies potential linkages and synergies (or conflicts) between adaptation to climate change and other international conventions and planning processes, eg, desertification, poverty reduction. The likely effects on patterns of rural/urban migration: The developing countries have often been asked to prepare separate stand-alone national studies for the different multi-lateral environmental agreements (MEAs) (including climate change) which have been done in parallel and to satisfy needs of the international community (eg each MEA secretariat has its own format for national communications) and has resulted in such national plans of action being of little practical value in the country. This is also recognised by the countries themselves and they are keen to establish methodologies (in which IIED is also assisting some of them) to ensure the integration of the MEAs not only amongst themselves but more importantly into the national level sustainable development planning or goals. The UK government can assist the developing countries to ensure that the MEAS are not only well integrated with one another but more importantly are integrated into their own national sustainable development strategies.

  12.  Progress in developing countries with implementing the millennium development goals and the international development target on environmental sustainability and regeneration, and the effect that these countries' policies for Sustainable Development will have on the environment and global climate change with particular reference to National Strategies for Sustainable Development (NSSD): The National Strategies for Sustainable Development (NSSDs) which countries are promise bound to initiate or prepare by 2002 are a useful instrument to incorporate issues related to climate change as a long term development issue. Unfortunately up to now most countries (both developed as well as developing) have tended to ignore the climate change issue when preparing their NSSDs. There is therefore much scope for the developing countries to incorporate climate change issues into their NSSDS as they are revised leading up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) to be held in September 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

  13.  The impact on the very poorest people in developing countries: Climate change impacts, as with many other impacts of environmental degradation tend to have a disproportionate impact on poorer communities, both because they tend to rely on the natural resource base more and also because of their relative lack of capacity to cope with any negative impacts. Thus any attempts to enhance the capacity of the poorer communities to deal with adverse consequences of climatic events (eg droughts, floods, hurricanes, etc) will also have a beneficial effect of strengthening their adaptive capacity to any future climate change.

  14.  Population growth and its effect on the environment in developing countries; urban and rural environmental problems: One of the major problems facing most developing countries (particularly in South Asia) is the rapid migration of rural populations into urban centres both from push factors (including environmental degradation in rural areas) as well as pull factors (eg jobs). The impacts of climate change are likely to enhance the environmental degradation of the natural resource base in many parts of the developing world leading to enhanced pressures for migration from rural to urban centres.

  15.  The need for capacity and institution-building to support sustainable development and manage natural resources in the face of global climate change: Developing countries need help to develop their own strategies with respect to national development planning (including environmental issues such as climate change) so that they are able to pro-actively address issues of concern to them as opposed to merely reacting to and reflecting the perceived priorities from international agreements and funders. This requires the identification and strengthening of such institutions (both governmental as well as non-governmental) which have such potential and to strengthen their capacities through appropriate support-both technical as well as financial). The UK government can help the developing countries most effectively by assisting them to build their own capacity to carry out the analysis and planning based on their own priorities rather than in response to international donor fashions.

  16.  The need to build sustainable communities and to integrate social, economic and environmental dimensions of development: IIED's work over many years (certainly since the Rio Summit) has been focused on integrating the different sectors including environmental, economic and social into a truly integrated sustainable development pathway of action. This is not easy even in developed countries, let alone in developing countries, nevertheless there has been a wealth of experience on which to build over the years so that a multi-sectoral, sustainable development pathway can be evolved including both governmental as well as non-governmental actors. The UK government can assist developing countries to integrate social, environmental and economic concerns into their own development planning based on their own national priorities with genuine stakeholder participation.

  17.  The role of civil society groups, the private sector, local and central government: Civil society groups including the non-governmental sectors, local government, private sector, as well as local communities by themselves. It has worked with numerous such groups around the world in a variety of settings and on different issues. These are some of the highest potential building blocks for assisting the vulnerable developing countries to enhance their own resilience in the face of a global challenge such as climate change. The UK government can assist developing countries to enable all the different sectors of civil society to engage in the national planning process to ensure that national plans and strategies are truly nationally owned.

  18.  The extent to which the links between poverty and the environment are included in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) and the degree to which PRSPs and NSSDs take account of each other: In most developing countries the preparation of NSSDs or PRSPS have been in response to external (donor) pressure and very few of them have been either nationally owned or able to integrate different issues (specially environmental issues)into the national plans or strategies. However there is nevertheless a great opportunity (which the UK government can assist) to incorporate both environmental as well as climate change issues along with poverty alleviation into both PRSPs as well as NSSDS in future-specially in the lead up to the WSSD.

  19.  The degree to which appropriate policies on environmental management can improve health, employment opportunities, livelihoods and tackle poverty: Policies on environmental management can play a very progressive role in directing investments into specific desired sectors (eg into clean technology)and in a manner that is beneficial to the environment as well as poverty alleviation. However most developing countries (particularly the poorest and most vulnerable to climate change) lack the capacity to develop (let alone enforce) such policies. The UK government can assist countries to take a livelihoods approach to developing policies and making sure that they are both pro-environment and pro-poor.

  20.  The potential offered by donor programmes (both multilateral or bilateral) and international mechanisms for achieving sustainable development, mitigating environmental degradation and lowering greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries; with particular reference to: Given that most of the poorest developing countries (who are also amongst the most vulnerable to climate change) are extremely dependent on the major multi-lateral and bilateral funding agencies it is important that the development funding agencies themselves first realise that they need to take into account climate change impacts to inform their own funding priorities and then help the vulnerable countries to enable them to cope with the adverse impacts (as well as take advantage of any opportunities).

  21.  Potential rules for adaptation funding, whether at the international level (eg, UNFCCC, GEF) or bilateral programmes (of which Canada and the Netherlands have taken a lead): The current status of adaptation funding is primarily through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) which disburses adaptation funding through a three stage process (Stage I being for studies and planning only, Stage II for planning and capacity building and Stage III for further capacity building as well as actual implementation of adaptation measures).This is a rather cumbersome process (and indeed only a very few activities under Stage II have been funded and none under Stage III yet). There is certainly a role for all the interested funding agencies (both bilateral as well as multilateral) to get together to develop guidelines which are simple and straight forward for the most vulnerable developing countries to access funding easily to carry out work on adaptation to climate change. These issues are being addressed through the Climate Change and LDC Funds created by the sixth Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). IIED, together with others has been playing a role in assisting the interested development funding agencies to keep abreast of each other's work and coordinate amongst themselves to the extent possible. However there is definitely a role (e.g. for DFID) to be pro-active in trying to ensure coordination and maximum sharing of knowledge gained in carrying out adaptation work in developing countries in future.

  22.  Mitigation policy and the usefulness and success (or failure) of present pilot schemes (such as Joint Implementation or carbon trading): The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) which is the vehicle for Carbon trading through mitigation where developing countries can get some benefits of project investments has been seen by many as a means of both transferring clean technology to the developing world as well as stimulating private sector investments. However with the United States of America not agreeing to participate in the Kyoto Protocol the market for such projects is diminished considerably. Nevertheless they offer some potential to stimulate some transfer of technology and resources from the developed to the developing countries. IIED has been working on the issue of how market mechanisms can be used to deliver sustainable development benefits (including Carbon benefits) and believes that there is definitely potential if done properly. Although CDM is seen as primarily a vehicle for private sector investments, nevertheless there is a role for official development assistance, specially for the poorer developing countries who are unlikely to attract any such private investment flows unless they are helped to build the capacity to do so.

  23.  The role of international fora and meetings (such as the Commission for Sustainable Development, the Global Compact, Rio +10, the Earth Summit) and the extent to which they reflect development concerns: The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in September 2002, (and its preparatory committee meetings) definitely offer a vehicle for looking again at the inter-linkages between the climate change issue and sustainable development (which exists in the original convention language but have been neglected for so long).The recent COP7 statement on WSSD is a step in the right direction and offers an opportunity to make the UNFCCC process take sustainable development concerns into account more overtly than in the past. The recent decision of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to reject the proposal to prepare a Technical Report on Climate Change and Sustainable Development is, however, to be deplored. IIED along with partners from developing countries is planning to hold a major workshop on the issue of climate change and sustainable development at the ministerial prep-com of WSSD to be held in Indonesia in May 2002.

  24.  The need for private investment that is both environmentally sustainable and links with the wider aim of poverty elimination; with particular reference to: The extent to which aid and investment are focussed to deliver both growth and sustainable development: The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol has an explicit goal of promoting sustainable development as one of its two major objectives (the other being the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions). This offers a way to ensure that investments made under CDM are indeed supporting and contributing towards sustainable development. However the UNFCCC decision gives the responsibility for ensuring the sustainable development objective to the host (ie developing country) and most developing countries have not yet done anything on this issue(or simply lack the capacity to do so). There is therefore a clear role for development assistance to assist (the poorer) developing countries to enable them to develop sustainable development criteria for CDM projects and also to help them to develop CDM feasibility studies for themselves. Other wise there is a real danger that left to the market alone (and CDM is primarily a market mechanism) only a handful of the larger developing countries (such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa) will attract the bulk of CDM projects while the vast majority of the poorer developing countries will not get any. IIED has been helping portfolio funding agencies for CDM projects (such as the Prototype Carbon Fund of the World Bank) to develop sustainable development criteria of their own for CDM projects in which they invest. IIED believes that sustainable development criteria should be developed promptly and be made part of each CDM project feasibility and monitoring protocol.

  25.  The impact of a developing countries environmental policies on investment by the private sector: Many of the developing countries (specially the poorer ones) are reluctant to impose environmental conditions on private sector investments (specially foreign direct investors) for fear of losing such inward flows of investments. However there is a growing realisation amongst many of those countries (often initiated by civil society groups) to ensure that environmental protection should go hand in hand with investments (specially industrial development). The international private sector has a major role to play in also ensuring that any investments made are environmentally and socially sound. IIED has been working with major international corporate sector companies in several fields (eg mining, paper and pulp, tourism, etc) to help them to ensure that their investments in developing countries is done in a manner that is both environmentally and socially sound. Given that the private sector is likely to be the major source of foreign investments in the developing countries in the coming decades (far outstripping official development assistance) it is important to engage with the international corporate sector to ensure that such investments are environmentally and socially sound.

  26.  DFID's policies, strategies and programmes on environmental sustainability and especially global climate change; with particular reference to DFID's Strategy Paper "Achieving Sustainability: poverty elimination and the environment"; Its usefulness, implementation and success: DFID's Strategy Paper makes reference to the support to be provided to the most vulnerable countries to climate change. This indeed a good priority but it must be made more concrete in terms of exactly how such support may be provided. In order for DFID to carry out this task properly it must first develop its own capacity to assess and develop strategies with respect to climate change and development assistance and then be able to prove such support to the developing countries themselves. This will enable DFID to become a major player in the role of making sure that climate change impacts for the most vulnerable countries is minimized and any opportunities presented are indeed taken up.


  27.  The main conclusion of our submission is to reiterate IIED's view that integrating climate change issues with national sustainable development planning and strategies is of utmost importance to most developing countries (but specially so for the most vulnerable and poorest developing countries). Hence dealing with climate change issues should be an integral part of those countries' sustainable development planning and activities (and by implication for the development assistance agencies such as DFID to help those countries to build that capacity).

Dr Saleemul Huq
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

January 2002

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 23 July 2002