Africa should receive urgent funding for adaptation to climate change impacts

Posted on 10 Feb 2010 in

Developed countries should focus funds for adaptation to climate change on exposed and vulnerable countries in Africa, and provide 40 per cent more aid to ‘climate-proof’ development, according to two new policy papers published today (10 February 2010) by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy.

In a paper on ‘From adaptation to climate-resilient development: the costs of climate-proofing the Millennium Development Goals in Africa’, published jointly with the Africa Progress Panel, Samuel Fankhauser and Guido Schmidt-Traub calculate that an additional US$30 billion per year in external funding will be needed to ‘climate-proof’ measures to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The external funding needed to reach ‘climate-resilient’ Millennium Development Goals in Africa will be about US$100 billion per year for the next decade, compared with US$72 billion if climate change is not taken into account.

Mr Schmidt-Traub said: “Social and economic development is closely intertwined with adaptation to climate change. Adaptation is increasingly described as ‘climate-resilient’ development or development in a more hostile climate. The priority for Africa over the next decade remains development. However, climate change will make it more expensive to meet and sustain the Millennium Development Goals. Our work shows that the external resources required to meet the Millennium Development Goals in a changing climate in Africa will be around US$100 billion per year for the next decade.”

Dr Fankhauser added: “The Copenhagen Accord, which was noted by countries at the end of the United Nations climate change conference in December, calls for developed countries to provide an additional US$30 billion over the next three years as ‘fast start’ funding for adaptation and mitigation. The focus for adaptation ‘fast start’ funding must be Africa, where it could make a real difference, but only if it is allocated efficiently and combined with existing development assistance.”

In the other paper on ‘The allocation of adaptation funding’ , Rhona Barr, Samuel Fankhauser and Kirk Hamilton conclude that a number of African countries, including Angola, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Somalia should be the primary targets for adaptation funding.

Ms Barr said: “Providing additional finance for adaptation is a key element of the emerging international climate change framework. Our work has explored how adaptation funding may be allocated among developing countries in a transparent, efficient and equitable way. We have proposed an approach based on three criteria: the climate change impact experienced in a country, a country’s adaptive or social capacity, and its capacity to implement adaptation measures. We have proposed rough indicators for each of these three dimensions.”

Dr Fankhauser said: “Physical impact and adaptive capacity together determine a country’s vulnerability to climate change. It seems both efficient and fair that countries which are more vulnerable should have a stronger claim on adaptation resources. It also makes sense to focus financial support for adaptation on countries that have the capacity to use these resources efficiently. In the top quarter of the 131 countries ranked in our work, only two are outside Africa.”

Dr Fankhauser added: “Africa can be better prepared to absorb climate shocks by developing stronger institutions, improving levels of education and providing better access to capital, as happens in island states and nations such as Bangladesh which are equally exposed to the harsh effects of climate change. What makes many African countries so vulnerable is their low capacity to adapt to climate change. And this limited capacity goes hand in hand with their low levels of development. Vulnerability to climate change and under-development are two sides of the same coin.”

Notes for Editors

  1. The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment was established in 2008 at the London School of Economics and Political Science. The Institute brings together international expertise on economics, as well as finance, geography, the environment, international development and political economy to establish a world-leading centre for policy-relevant research, teaching and training in climate change and the environment. It is funded by The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment (, which also funds the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London.
  2.  The Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (, was established in 2008 to advance public and private action on climate change through rigorous, innovative research. The Centre is hosted jointly by the University of Leeds and the London School of Economics and Political Science. It is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council ( and Munich Re (
  3. The Africa Progress Panel promotes Africa’s development by tracking progress, drawing attention to opportunities and catalysing action. The Panel was launched in April 2007 as an independent authority on Africa to focus world leaders’ attention on delivering their commitments to the continent. The Panel places particular emphasis on supporting effective and united African leadership to address challenges to the continent’s continued development. The paper on ‘From adaptation to climate-resilient development: the costs of climate-proofing the Millennium Development Goals in Africa’ has been prepared as a contribution to the Panel’s work on climate change. More information can be found at: