Launch of report on adaptation decision making under uncertainty for development agencies

Posted on 14 Jun 2013 in

Nicola Ranger, our Senior Research Fellow, has produced this topic guide.

The purpose of the guide is to stimulate thinking about two major issues: first, how climate change may alter the long-term outcomes of development interventions today, and, second, how such interventions can be better designed from the outset to have outcomes that enhance climate resilience and are themselves robust and adaptable to long-term stresses, like climate change.

The guide offers an overview of the latest thinking on how to manage the changing and uncertain climate in development decisions today. The key premise is that climate change will affect the long-term outcomes of many development interventions. Indeed, interventions that are beneficial today may prove to be damaging in the long term if they do not take account of climate change.

This gives a strong rationale for ensuring that programmes and projects are robust and adaptable to climate change. Importantly, climate change and its uncertainties should not be an after-thought in development interventions – they must be addressed from the outset of the process and throughout the project cycle.

The specific challenge addressed in this topic guide is that the future climate is deeply uncertain. This is not just a scientific issue – it has real implications for development agencies. If uncertainty is not tackled properly from the outset today, there is a significant risk of taking not enough, too many or the wrong types of interventions. This could mean a lower value for money of investments, or in extreme cases, wasted investments or adverse outcomes.

The central message from this topic guide is that accounting for the changing and uncertain climate need not be complicated and should not paralyse action. This guide introduces a range of concepts and tools for dealing with the changing and uncertain climate in designing and implementing development interventions – many are suitable for all development professionals, but in the final chapter we also include a set of more involved methods for those interested in quantitative options appraisal.

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