January 6, 2012
Andrew Steer, Special Envoy for Climate Change, World Bank
Nancy Birdsall, President, Center for Global Development
Nathan Hultman, Nonresident Fellow, the Brookings Institution
In 2011, 41 million people world-wide lost their homes from natural disasters caused by climate change. Regional, national and international displacements are happening at a larger scale because of an increase of severe weather events caused by climate change. Climate change affects people directly by temperature changes, sea level rise, extreme weather events, and shifts in the hydrological cycle, causing droughts, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. Because of unforeseen natural disasters, people in vulnerable regions may suddenly find themselves without the resources to migrate to safety. Though planned migration in hopes of avoiding a natural disaster can be expensive, unplanned, climate-induced forced displacement is even more costly.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa was successful in launching the Green Climate Fund, with the goal to annually collect $100 million in charitable aid for countries affected by climate change. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change also created an adaptation committee, consisting of adaptation experts from various countries. The Climate talks in Durban, along with the solutions offered by the United Nations, raised numerous questions on how to affectively mitigate displacement caused by climate change.
Highlights of Panel Discussion:
In “Climate Change Adaptation in a Post-Durban World,” three panelists discussed questions concerning the Green Climate Fund, and how best to use those funds to reduce the effects of climate change and international displacement. Questions include the following:
- How do you measure the amount of financial aid spent on adaptation?
- How do you measure the success of the projects that used money raised for adaptation?
- Is it better to channel financial aid into building structures that will help mitigate the damage caused by natural disasters (e.g. seawalls, bridges, etc.,) or is it better to channel money into institutional resources for the population (education, healthcare?)
- How can we best reduce the cost of migration once people have moved and established themselves in new areas? Is it adequate to use financial aid to grant access to public healthcare, education, available housing and accessible jobs?
- How do we best communicate climate change and social responsibility?
- How can we make sure that the Green Climate Fund stays transparent, and that the fund is well run and audited? Donors want to make sure their contributions are well spent, and are well used.
- How can we guarantee that poor countries have access to the Green Climate Fund?
- Should private funders provide financial aid to the Green Climate Fund, or should the fund be public and grant-based?
- Should we allocate the majority of money to only a few countries in order to make an impact, and then use new donations to target a separate country in need?
Suggestions made by the panel:
- Global resources should be used for global challenges. The funds should be grouped into a global pool so they are not used for one country’s individual debt reduction.
- There should be a formula that specifies which country is obliged to transfer money, and how the money is distributed: A country’s history of emissions, plus current income equals the amount that the country should contribute to the Green Climate Fund. The countries with the lowest emissions and lowest national income should be entitled for more assistance.
- Countries with no developed infrastructure should have a 3rd party decide and implement funds for adaptation on their behalf.
An audio presentation of the event may be downloaded here: http://www.brookings.edu/events/2012/0106_climate_change_adaptation.aspx