Investigating Climate Compatible Development Outcomes and their Implications for Distributive Justice: Evidence from Malawi

Governments and donors are investing in climate compatible development in order to reduce climate and development vulnerabilities. However, the rate at which climate compatible development is being operationalised has outpaced academic enquiry into the concept. Interventions aiming to achieve climate compatible development “wins” (for development, mitigation, adaptation) can also create negative side-effects. Moreover, benefits and negative side-effects may differ across time and space and have diverse consequences for individuals and groups. Assessments of the full range of outcomes created by climate compatible development projects and their implications for distributive justice are scarce. This article develops a framework using a systematic literature review that enables holistic climate compatible development outcome evaluation over seven parameters identified. Thereafter, we explore the outcomes of two donor-funded projects that pursue climate compatible development triple-wins in Malawi using this framework. Household surveys, semi-structured interviews and documentary material are analysed. Results reveal that uneven outcomes are experienced between stakeholder groups and change over time. Although climate compatible development triple-wins can be achieved through projects, they do not represent the full range of outcomes. Ecosystem—and community-based activities are becoming popularised as approaches for achieving climate compatible development goals. However, findings suggest that a strengthened evidence base is required to ensure that these approaches are able to meet climate compatible development goals and further distributive justice.

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