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Document Abstract
Published: 1 Feb 2010

Screening tools and guidelines to support the mainstreaming of climate change adaptation into development assistance

Comparing contemporary climate risk screening tools and mainstreaming guidelines
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This report, commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), takes stock of the numerous climate risk screening tools and mainstreaming guidelines. It presents their relative strengths and weaknesses, with the aim of providing a useful resource for future projects and frameworks in the challenge of mainstreaming climate change into development plans.

A spectrum of tools and methodologies from the conceptual to the specific and practical, offering a diverse choice across scales, exist. There is also variability in the level of detail and the extent to which approaches are readily operational in practice. However, produced by a wide range of national and international donors, non-governmental organisations and institutions, there is an issue with consistency in definition of terms.

The paper introduces the rationale for mainstreaming climate into development plans and discusses definitions for a variety of concepts, including 'adaptation' and 'climate risk screening'. Different categories of climate risk screening efforts (analysing project concepts with a view to identifying climate risks and vulnerabilities) are reviewed, covering screening tools, generic guidance documents and examples of systematic portfolio screenings. They differ in levels of analysis, target audience, aims and approaches. The paper also provides a comparative overview that assesses the scope and objectives of these tools and guidance. Of the 27 efforts examined within these categories, a majority include consideration at more than one level (though primary focus is distributed widely). These are fairly evenly split between project and programme levels.

The paper also highlights gaps in the available screening tools and mainstreaming guidelines. These include:

  • only six included costing exercises, a vital component for the broader mainstreaming process. This is an example of the need for more analytical work, something emphasised in both scientific and policy-oriented literature.
  • There is a need for a more unified common language as an urgent priority.
  • There is also a need to harmonise approaches to assessment and integration of climate change into development. A possible first step would be a detailed comparative analysis of the various pilot projects currently utilising the methodologies presented herein.
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Anne Olhoff; Caroline Schaer

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