Safeguarding development aid against climate change: evaluating progress and identifying best practice


Official development assistance (ODA) currently totals around $130 billion USD per year, an order of magnitude greater than international climate finance. To safeguard development progress and secure the long-term effectiveness of these investments, projects must be designed to be resilient to current variability and future climate change. Previous studies have identified where ODA projects are sensitive to climate. This paper goes further, to identify where action now might be justified to ‘future-proof’ these projects, given balance of risks and additional costs. We review 250 recent (since 2007) projects for three countries from two development organisations. In agreement with previous studies we find that around 30% projects have a medium or high potential risk from climate change. Between 5% and 55% of these projects (or 2% to 30% of the whole country portfolio) could require futureproofing now, given that they have long-lived outcomes that are difficult to adjust over time.
We find that in many cases (80% for the World Bank and 13% for DFID) the risks associated with climate change are not mentioned in the documentation of these projects, but there are signs of improvements in integration over the past few years. More in-depth, project-specific study is required to better assess the true level of integration and the barriers that development professionals confront in this area. Finally, we identify best practice examples of how ODA projects can be made more resilient to long-term climate change.

Nicola Ranger, Alex Harvey and Su-Lin Garbett-Shiels