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Making social protection work for climate variability and change

Agriculture and other types of natural resource-dependent societies in developing countries are coming under increasing pressure due to climate change. This is predicted to have knock-on effects for rural livelihoods and attainment of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1, which is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. To date, consideration of how best to protect the livelihoods of the poorest and most vulnerable from these impacts has not been a priority for the international community. However, with large amounts of financial assistance for climate change adaptation and mitigation now being pledged by the industrialised countries to help developing nations (US $27.9 billion in ‘fast-start’ funding as of August 2010) this task is becoming increasingly important. One response option is social protection, which offers a promising approach through which to channel adaptation assistance to those who need it the most. For example, social protection instruments such as cash transfers can protect those with the lowest levels of adaptive capacity, whilst instruments such as public works programmes can promote resilience through livelihood diversification.

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