Rich nations fail to assist poorest nations adapt to climate change impacts – Research

Almost a year down the line, developed nations are failing to keep the promise they made at the Copenhagen Climate Change meeting, to provide adequate finance to help the world’s poorest countries adapt to the impacts of climate change, according to the outcome of a research published last week Wednesday.

According to Achala Chandani of IIED, who took part in the research, “In last December’s climate summit in Copenhagen developed countries committed to provide developing nations with US$30 billion between 2010 and 2012, with the money balanced between funding for mitigation and adaptation projects,” but have failed to meet their responsibility to help poorer nations.

He says the research shows that funding pledges made since the Copenhagen meeting are far from balanced, with very little earmarked for projects that would enable developing nations to enhance their resilience to climate-change impacts on agriculture, infrastructure, health and livelihoods.

A press release which announced the research findings, said the paper was published by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and includes a five-point plan to enable developed nations to fulfil their pledges and build the trust needed to advance the next session of UN climate-change negotiations, which begin on 29 November in Cancun, Mexico.

Meanwhile, according to Dr Saleemul Huq of IIED, so far “Only US$3 billion has been formally allocated for adaptation,” adding, “There is also a danger that some of this could come in the form of loans, which would further indebt already poor nations and force them to pay to fix a problem that the developed nations created.”

The researchers warn that it is also unclear how the money will be disbursed, what type of projects it will support, and how the global community will be able to track adherence to pledges and ensure that the funding is truly new and additional to existing aid budgets.

For his part, Dr J. Timmons Roberts, Director of the Centre for Environmental Studies at Brown University and co-director of the AidData project (, said “Currently there is no common framework to oversee, account for and enforce the delivery of the money that rich nations promised to support adaptation to climate change in developing nations”.

“Industrialised nations seem to think they can get away with an “anything goes” approach—where whatever they describe as adaptation funding counts,” adds Roberts. “The danger is that existing development projects that are not specific responses to the threat of climate change will simply be relabelled as climate adaptation projects,” he laments.

“We have technology now that would allow recipient governments and civil society groups of all types to add their own information about the progress and effectiveness of every adaptation project planned and underway,” adds Dr J. Timmons Roberts. “By tracking funds all the way from taxpayers in developed nations to each expenditure in the developing countries, this system could create a new era in global cooperation, avoiding many of the pitfalls of past foreign aid,” he says.

Adding his voice to the research findings, David Ciplet, also a researcher at Brown University adds: “The big promises for adaptation funding made at Copenhagen are not being met. Rather, a fragmented non-system for deciding what counts as adaptation funding is forming, and there is no way to truly measure whether the promises are being met.”

He says “Adaptation funding is absolutely crucial for the billions of people who face the rising intensity of climate disasters, but making promises is only the first step.” “What matters now is that developed countries make good on their promises and provide the funding needed to enable vulnerable countries and communities to increase their resilience to climatic threats such as droughts and floods, rising sea levels and new risks from diseases and crop pests,” he adds.

The researchers say that to rebuild trust on both sides of the North-South divide, industrialised countries should support an independent registry under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UFCCC) and then provide it with detailed and timely data and on all their climate-related projects.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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