An Integrated Response to Climate Change

Climate change poses a serious threat to economic development and human security worldwide. Developing countries are especially vulnerable and widespread impacts such as drought and flooding events, more severe and frequent weather-related disasters, coastal flooding, increased incidence of pests and diseases and, ultimately, political and economic instability, will further compromise the livelihoods of communities across the globe. Integrating development with pro-poor and pro-climate policies such as renewable energy access and responsible management of the ecosystems that support local economies leads to programs becoming more cost-effective, efficient, and sustainable. U.S. programs should be proactive: promoting clean energy, building local capacity to protect carbon-holding forests, and using other ways to help countries pursue development in a low-emissions manner. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) repeatedly stress the importance of the international community proactively tackling climate change including in Goal 6 (clean water and sanitation), Goal 7 (affordable and clean energy), Goal 11 (sustainable cities and communities), Goal 12 (responsible consumption and production), Goal 13 (climate action), Goal 14 (life below water), and Goal 15 (life on land).

InterAction Recognizes

  • Sustainable and resilient climate change programming requires working with local communities, not around them. Participatory approaches are both cost-effective and sustainable mechanisms for reducing risks. Local communities have rich knowledge of the risks they face. Effective strategies should rely on that knowledge, be augmented by scientific research data, and build upon participatory analysis of vulnerabilities and capacities. Full recognition of community rights to resources allows for more sustainable and just outcomes, and avoids costly project delays and conflicts. A people-centered, results- and rights-based approach that empowers at-risk communities as active decision makers and risk managers will ensure they are prepared for future climate change-related disasters.

  • Integrating climate response into development activities is efficient and leads to mutual effectiveness and sustainability. Such integration helps reduce vulnerability, increases resilience, and ensures that healthy ecosystems remain a basis for long-term prosperity and economic activity. Integrated, multisector approaches to climate, environment, and development will deliver poverty reduction and natural resource management benefits in a more cost-effective manner that builds and supports resilient societies. Disaster risk reduction measures, including flood control, will be important for minimizing development setbacks due to climate-related shocks to national systems. Maintaining ecosystem services such as clean water and fertile soils will reduce the burden of disease and malnutrition.

  • U.S. support for the U.S. Global Climate Change Initiative, including bilateral and multilateral funds, helps the most vulnerable countries adapt to adverse climate impacts. For over a decade, the U.S. has helped more than 30 less-developed countries increase their capacity to deal with climate change, championing efforts that have successfully reduced the vulnerability of agriculture, water supplies, transportation systems, and communities. These funds also help countries mitigate greenhouse gas emissions through clean energy development and sustainable landscape management. This initiative is led by USAID and the Departments of State and the Treasury. Activities focus on three priority areas: (1) clean energy—fostering low carbon growth; (2) sustainable landscapes—reducing emissions from deforestation; and (3) adaptation—building resilience to the effects of climate change in less-developed countries. Bilateral investments that address climate change and extreme weather are essential to meet the basic needs of poor people for climate-resilient development.

  • The U.S. commitment in supporting food security must be maintained. Agriculture is both profoundly affected by climate change and is a significant contributor, as a major emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG). When deforestation associated with agricultural expansion is considered, the sector represents approximately 25% of global GHG emissions—more than transport and manufacturing sectors combined. Identifying and scaling-up technologies and practices that simultaneously increase food access, reduce emissions, and allow farmers to adapt to changing circumstances are key. U.S. integration of climate-sensitive activities in Feed the Future (and the forthcoming Global Food Security Strategy) as well as other initiatives, support and promote adaptation efforts at home and abroad. 

Upcoming Opportunities

  • Implementing Power Africa [Ongoing 2017]: Distributed renewable energy is one of the cheapest, fastest, and most efficient options for delivery of electrical power to the more than 1 billion people in the world who currently lack it. The U.S. has made an important commitment to this goal through Power Africa, a government-wide initiative to electrify the continent with the greatest energy poverty. There are opportunities to strengthen funding, pro-poor energy policies, democratic dialogue, and accountability on the issue through various U.S. agency policies, appropriations, and reauthorizations (e.g. the Overseas Private Investment Corporation).

  • Conference of the Parties (COP 23) [November 2017]: The 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an annual meeting to assess progress in dealing with climate change, especially in implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement. In addition to meeting and building upon the Paris Agreement policy commitments that came out of the 2015 COP 21 meeting, the U.S. must meet its Green Climate Fund (GCF) pledge. The GCF began operations in 2015 and is intended to mobilize $100 billion per year by 2020. It serves as the primary global financial mechanism to support particularly vulnerable countries, including the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States, and African nations in their efforts to build low-carbon, climate-resilient economies. The Fund complements other existing multilateral climate change funds (such as the Least Developed Countries Fund, the Special Climate Change Fund, and the Adaptation Fund) because it uniquely focuses on the development and implementation of country-level strategies and plans for climate resilience and low-carbon development, coupled with robust monitoring and evaluation. The U.S. government’s four-year pledge of $3 billion to the GCF builds on previous U.S. multilateral commitments by President George W. Bush that consistently received bipartisan support.

  • High-Level UN Conference to Support the Implementation of SDG 14 [June 2017]: By 2050, the warming and acidification of oceans due to climate change is projected to result in the classification of nearly all coral reefs as threatened. This would adversely affect reef fisheries and the approximately 500 million people who rely on these ecosystems for their livelihoods. This high-level UN conference, co-hosted by the governments of Fiji and Sweden, will coincide with World Oceans Day and seeks to support the implementation SDG 14. Given the impacts climate change has on small-holder producers, including fisherfolk, particular attention should be paid to working with the local fisher communities to meet this goal.

Additional Materials

  • Global Climate Change and Development Strategy, 2012,

  • The President's Climate Action Plan, 2013,

  • USDA Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry, 2016,

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