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Document Abstract
Published: 2009

Closing the gaps: disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change in developing countries

Climate change adaptation: commiting to action at the local level
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The International Commission on Climate Change and Development examines adaptation to climate change and its links with development and disaster risk reduction. It issues policy recommendations on how the resilience of vulnerable communities and countries can be strengthened through official development assistance (ODA) on appropriate institutional and financial architecture, including the  mobilisation of new financial resources for climate change.

The paper argues that the only solution to climate change is a rapid move toward a low-carbon global economy. In poor countries adaptation is inseparable from development, where the capacity to manage risk determines progress. It further notes that while the effects of climate change may be vast, their brunt will be borne locally. Adaptation is shaped by institutions at the local, national, and international levels; adaptive capacity at the local scale depends on developing capacity for adaptation at wider scales. The private sector is a key resource in adaptation.

The authors argue that despite the strong interdependence between economy, environment, and development, governments continue to try to manage issues in silos as if they were separate one from another. The report concludes that there are difficulties in financing adaptation because it is hard to count the costs of adaptation at any given time; costs will only increase as society continues to delay serious efforts on mitigation.

Recommendations given are:
  • local institutions should have the main responsibility for identifying the poor and vulnerable and supporting them in building safe rural and urban settlements. These institutions should ensure that dissemination of climate information reaches the poorest and most vulnerable through appropriate extension services.
  • national policy coordination for adaptation, disaster risk reduction, poverty alleviation, and human development should be led from the highest political and organisational level.
  • regional agencies should become more innovative in helping countries produce regional climate information and knowledge, design common early warning systems for extreme weather conditions, manage shared water resources, control regional infectious diseases, and develop and create various agricultural and ecosystem management systems.
  • international organisations must become more adept at reaching the local level directly and through national governments and regional organisations.
  • there is need for greater coordination of financing mechanisms and monitoring of resources at the global and national levels.
  • there is need to honor ODA commitments which will improve the adaptive capacity of countries and would provide funds to help kick-start urgent adaptation measures.
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