Trees, cattle and power dynamics in Colombia

What do trees and cattle have in common? Read my new CDKN article on this issue.

Nowhere are development vs. climate change dilemmas and synergies clearer than in the Colombian cattle business. This land intensive system has been responsible for 90% of forest loss in the Amazon region from 2005 until 2010 –mostly in the Southern department of Caquetá, according to a report of the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) and the Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI), published with CDKN´s support.

It is likely that, in post-conflict Colombia, new challenges will grip people´s attention. Facing tough development questions while being true to international environmental and climate commitments will be one of them.


FEATURE: Where does Bangladesh climate policy go, after Paris?

CDKN’s Miren Gutierrez investigates the development trade-offs under hot discussion in Bangladesh as the country contemplates delivering its national climate commitments, following the Paris conference (COP21). 

As countries continue devising their climate action plans, aid for developing countries in order to mitigate and adapt to climate change remains on the negotiating table. For nations like Bangladesh–very much at risk from rising sea levels and other hazards—this is a key and complex issue.

Bangladesh is one of the planet’s most densely populated countries, situated over the large delta where three of Asia’s biggest rivers–Brahmaputra, Ganges and Meghna— meet. While cyclones and flooding have always been a part of life, they now appear more frequent and less predictable. River erosion has intensified and the sea levels have risen, carrying salty water farther inshore. In many places, life as people knew has disappeared.

For example, Bangladesh relies almost completely on groundwater for drinking provisions. Pumping water causes the land to sink; so as sea level rises, the risk of flooding increases even more. The country’s climate scientists have concluded that ‘by 2050, rising sea levels will inundate some 17% of the land and displace about 18 million people’, according to the report ‘Borrowed Time on Disappearing Land’, published in 2014 by The New York Times.

In the face of such challenges, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina warned in 2014 that, although Bangladesh was working on plans to face climate change, ´new and additional resources will be needed for their implementation´.

In the wake of the Paris Climate Conference, the dilemma is not only about the sums that are to be committed as aid, but also how much of this aid is to be translated into policy and practices to cut emissions by shifting to green energy and conserve carbon reservoirs.

However, both challenges require different strategies and perspectives.

Bangladesh’s climate plans include adaptation and mitigation strategies, but will that be enough? And are they compatible? Adaptation is country specific, or even local specific, ‘but mitigation demands collective efforts of global communities,’ says the paper ‘Climate change, sea level rise and coastal vulnerabilities of Bangladesh with adaptation options’ authored by Lokman Hossain and Mohammed Kamal Hossain.

“If Bangladesh stops its total CO2 emissions at once,” conclude the same authors, the problem (climate change) will remain at the same extent, because it is an outcome of excess greenhouse gas emitting countries. Bangladesh is not self-sufficient to face such a large scale problem, either. So, global initiative should be taken to save the country, as it is a global problem, to a greater extent.”

As preparation for the climate summit, all countries worked on their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The objective was to create a new international climate agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that puts the world on a path toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient future. Developing INDCs was a process that identified these efforts, and analysed where there was potential to increase ambition domestically so all countries can work collectively towards reducing emissions.

But what do INDCs actually mean to a country like Bangladesh? Were they just about fulfilling an international requirement? Not quite.

“Sometimes you need to tick a box if you want to have your foot on the door. But once that is done, let´s talk about what others have to offer,” said Kashmala Shahab Kakakhel, an expert and a board member of CAN international. She is the former head of the CDKN initiative to advise the government of Bangladesh in preparing its INDCs.

“Bangladesh is one of the best examples globally of community-based adaptation. They have been taking care of themselves. It also leads the Least Developed Countries (LDC) group in issues such as loss and damage and climate finance. It comes to no surprise that premier (Sheikh Hasina) committed in NY, at the UN climate summit (last year), to realistic INDCs,” added Kakakhel.

Indeed, after every cyclone or flood, people in Bangladesh have rebuilt their homes, they have learned to grow rice and other crops in new ways, they have tried new farming methods to deal with salty water, or they have moved further inland and migrated.

Further efforts are being requested of Bangladesh, but “the idea is that your INDCs don’t hamper your growth, and Bangladesh is committed to becoming a Middle Income Country by 2021… Bangladesh can invest in renewables, put in place mitigation strategies with adaptation co-benefits, etc. and still prosper along an economic trajectory that commits to not go above the 2 tons per capita limit,” said Kakakhel.

INDCs were expected to work combining parts of a top-down system (in which countries together aspire decrease global emissions enough to control mean global temperature rise to 2 degrees C), with a bottom-up system (in which countries set forth their contributions in the framework of their priorities, conditions and capabilities). As a result, it is hoped that INDCs, combined, create a productive response synergy between national and international decision-making on climate change.

In the case of Bangladesh, “the bottom up approach refers to the individual actions on the ground that are good practice for replication at country level. Initiatives that, accumulated, result in a reduction of emissions,” she said. “For example: energy efficient systems in transport systems or LED lighting or the one million households that use solar[1]. While the top down approach consist of reviewing the total net emissions and an objective of where it needs to be to meet targets collectively. And then walk backwards towards those targets.”

Bangladesh has access to climate finance through the Climate Change Trust Fund (government) and the Climate Change Resilience Fund (multiple donors), which could help channel funds towards climate strategies.

But according to Kakakhel, this is not only a question of funds. “There is the transfer of needed technology, intellectual property rights, but also the level of preparedness in the country. Bangladesh needs money, but has to know for what. If you don´t plan properly and allow people to build houses in a flooding zone, it is not a question of putting the blame on climate change. You have to take ownership of your problems.”

For Nazneen Ahmed, of BRAC Institute of Governance and Development, Bangladesh´s efforts to shift to low-carbon growth are already “evidenced by the formation of the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) and also in the formulation of a number of plans and policies. For example, Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2009, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Master Plan 2030, and the Renewable Energy Policy 2008 that targets 10 percent of total electricity generation from renewable sources by 2020.”

However, how Bangladesh intends to exactly reduce greenhouse gas emissions “becomes unclear particularly in the face of the Rampal power plant issue,” she adds in an op-ed in The Daily Star. “This is because the potential threat Bangladesh poses to the Sundarbans by allowing the construction of the Rampal power plant contradicts its INDCs statement to the UNFCC, in which it recognised ecosystem conservation as a mitigation action – subject to the availability of external resources – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The 1320 megawatt coal-fired power station at Rampal Upazila –a joint partnership between India´s state owned National Thermal Power Corporation and Bangladesh Power Development Board— has generated criticism as the proposed project is been planned on an area close to the world´s largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans, which is a UNESCO world heritage site.

In its INDC, Bangladesh projected the costs of ecosystem-based adaptation and conservation measures for 2015 to 2030 to be $3.5 billion –a figure which the country is probably expecting to meet with foreign aid. ´If natural ecosystems like the Sundarbans, which constitutes around 50% of the country’s reserved forests, are lost as a result of short-sighted and expedient policies like the Rampal, what would Bangladesh´s stance be in the global aid discourse?´ wonders the expert.

Ahmed warns also about the importance of the Sundarbans as a significant carbon sink, since the carbon storage capacity per square kilometre of coastal marine habitats, including mangroves, is 50 times higher than that of tropical forests, according to a report by IUCN.

Bangladesh is also developing coal power plants that are supposed to be “carbon neutral” as part of its climate change strategy and action plan (known as BCCSAP), and they have been added to the country’s INDC. However, Climate Home reports a slow progress in a January report.

Like in other countries, the implementation of the INDC is indeed a challenge in Bangladesh that has to do with developing without compromising both the economic and social development, future livelihoods and the environment.

Meanwhile UNDP is supporting the development of a National Adaptation Programme (NAP), which will be integrated with its INDC and BCCSAP; GIZ is revising the BCCSAP and updating it, adding more localised vulnerability assessments; and CDKN is supporting development of mitigation related sectoral action plans for energy, industry and transport sector from INDC, says Areej Riaz, Country Programme Manager at CDKN and Climate Finance and Readiness focal person at LEAD Pakistan.. “Although this shows momentum, there are many externalities yet to be considered,” she concludes.

Image: Bangladeshi woman, credit Amir Jina,

[1] The Bangladeshi government aspires to deliver electricity to all households by 2021. With financial support from the World Bank and other donors, it intends to generate 220 megawatts of electricity for around 6 million households by 2017 by way of a solar home system programme.

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FEATURE: Resilient housing – A flourishing sector

FEATURE: Resilient housing – A flourishing sector

CDKN’s Miren Gutierrez looks at the potential for the prebuilt housing sector to increase the resilience of its products to climate change.

Modular, prebuilt homes are in fashion to the point that, in the United States, the demand for prefabricated housing is forecast to expand 15% annually through 2017, according to a 2013 report. Some of the expertise in the prebuilt housing sector is also dedicated to exploring new ways in which a house can withstand climate-related disasters.

The housing problem is no longer quantitative, but qualitative, according to the Global Compact Cities Programme. The organisation notes that “people tend to constantly improve and adapt their dwellings in order to better accommodate their changing needs.” Because housing is “a process, not and end”, say authors Sandra Moye-Holz and Constanza Gonzalez-Mathiesen in a report about Chile’s case published by the Global Compact Cities Programme.

But what does it all entail? Do all hazards pose the same sort of challenges? Is resistance the same as resilience? Tuan Anh Tran notes in a book about “Developing Disaster Resilient Housing in Vietnam” that there is a lack of consensus in defining resilient housing and a gap in academic literature on this vital matter for many communities around the globe.

For example, with regard to flooding, one of the most destructive climate-related disasters, Planning Practice Guidance  notes that “flood-resilient buildings are designed and constructed to reduce the impact of flood water entering the building so that no permanent damage is caused, structural integrity is maintained and drying and cleaning is easier”, while “flood-resistant construction can prevent entry of water or minimise the amount that may enter a building where there is short duration flooding outside with water depths of 0.6 metres or less.”

Picturing a flood-resistant house, one can think of most constructions along the channels of Venice, which are protected by double, water-resistant barriers. But what does a resilient house look like?

Under the Sheltering from a Gathering Storm project, with CDKN funding, the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-International (ISET-International) –an organisation that works with local partners to build resilience— launched in 2012 a “Resilient Housing Design Competition.”  It called for innovative storm resistant shelters for low-income households, and the winning model selected to be constructed was analysed for its resistance to typhoons, including strong winds and heavy rainfall.

Characteristics of these resilient houses include: the ability to absorb shocks; reinforced spaces that can protect inhabitants even if other parts of the house are destroyed or flooded; escape gateways; the employment of water-resistant materials in sections that are likely to be hit by floods; redundancy and modularity that allow the interaction of different components of the building; solid structures; simple forms easily built locally with local materials; and a flexibility allows expansion and adaptation when needed.

(Double click on the graphic below to increase its size for ease of reading.)

da nang

The competition involved local architecture schools and professional businesses, and called for climate-adapted shelter designs that are low cost, technically effective and culturally acceptable; the best-judged shelters were the subject of the cost-benefit analysis research.

“Shelter accounts for the highest monetary losses in climate-related disasters and is therefore a significant cost for governments, the private sector and non-governmental organisations working on disaster risk reduction or post-disaster reconstruction,” according to findings from the CDKN project.

The Sheltering From a Gathering Storm: Typhoon Resilience in Vietnam – one of three case studies in this project— focuses on key issues related to housing and providing insights into the economic and non-financial returns of adaptive, resilient shelter designs that take into consideration hazards such as typhoons, flooding and temperature increases.

The two-year research programme targeting peri-urban areas in India, Vietnam and Pakistan –where cities face risks from typhoons, flooding and extreme heat— identified practical solutions for resilient shelters and the long-term economic returns of investing in such shelter structures. The project was led by ISET-International in partnership with Hue University (Vietnam), Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (India), ISET-Pakistan and ISET-Nepal.

The Vietnam report concludes that some of the innovative housing solutions are affordable and economically viable, and replicable in other regions. In spite of this, since families with low incomes have limited resources, new public policies are needed to provide subsidies, promote micro-insurance, require multi-hazard construction standards, bridge low-income communities with experts, and improve awareness.

In Pakistan, in 2010, about 12 million homes were destroyed or damaged by heavy monsoon rains, according to a report by the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC). This is especially serious at the household level, since “the shelter is often the single largest asset owned by individuals and families, and the failure of shelters to protect people from hazards is a significant risk to lives and livelihoods,” according to the CDKN project.

Resilient housing is even more important when post-disaster response and relocation is considered. According to HPN, “normally, only 10 to 20% of housing needs are met, frequently with temporary rather than more permanent housing. To cite a few examples: one year after Cyclone Sidr the number of dwellings built by aid agencies in Bangladesh (2007) represented 7% of need; in Padang, Indonesia, after the 2009 earthquake it was 14%; and in the Pakistan floods (2010) it was 2.5%.”

In Da Nang, Vietnam, the community was involved in the “Resilient Housing Design Competition  and participated in voting for the winning designs. “This helped to create awareness of the possibility to build homes which could withstand recurrent storms at little additional cost,” says a CDKN guide[1]. A total of 244 climate-adapted houses were built. And the structures “withstood Typhoon Nari, which hit during the course of the project, and minimised human and economic losses compared with other homes.” The Da Nang city government has since introduced a policy that means all housing plans in the city should apply resilience principles.

[1] The guide’s title is “What does it take to mainstream disaster risk management in key sectors?” And the Da Nang case is already part of the literature on the subject.

Image credit: DFID

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OPINION: After Paris – “Opportunities rest in the space for dynamic interactions”, Farhan Helmy

Indonesia is one of the key developing countries for the success of the Paris agreement, to the point that some speak of it as ´pivotal´. It is not only one of the most populous countries in the world, but also one of the biggest carbon emitters, and contrary to what happens in many smaller developing countries, Indonesia needs to take decisive actions on mitigation to support a shift towards a sustainable development globally. Farhan Helmy, Chair of the Thamrin School of Climate Change and Sustainability, speaks to CDKN’s Miren Gutierrez and Mochamad Indrawan, CDKN’s Strategic Advisor for Indonesia about how the conversation after Paris has been part of an increasingly dynamic Indonesian national process.   This is one of CDKN’sAfter Paris: Perspectives from developing countries.

The Paris Agreement created an ambitious mandate for the global community. Does it change the national conversation in Indonesia about action on climate change? If so, how?

In Indonesia, a substantive outcome will depend on the dynamics of national and subnational entities alike. For instance, in order to be successful, Urban Low Emissions Development Strategies (known as Urban LEDS) need to have the backing of the individual heads of districts and municipalities, and likewise, activities to reduce emissions from deforestation and other forest degradation, known as “REDD+”[1] needs commitment at the subnational level, including enforcing the rights of local communities.

We talk of the ‘means of implementation’ for the national climate plans that were included in the Paris Agreement, and these include funding schemes, capacity building activities and technology transfer. Many of these ‘means of implementation’ are not necessarily within the domain of governments. Non-state actors need to establish systems for monitoring, reporting and verifying progress against national targets.

Eventually, the social media revolution must be factored in since it has helped the public to take a more critical stand on how development should take place. Social dynamics have led the government to increasingly occupy the roles of regulator and facilitator. The government may facilitate and mediate between local communities and their proposed requirements, for instance.

Could you mention some concrete plans being devised in mitigation and adaptation?

Three key institutional elements must be consolidated before 2020: (1) action on mitigation and adaptation, (2) putting in place a monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) system, and (3) generating the means of implementation.

On (1), Indonesia’s 2011 action plans for greenhouse gas emissions mitigation defined no less than 70 activities, including emissions reductions in the forestry and energy sectors.

Regarding (2) MRV systems and other processes, Indonesia has been developing a greenhouse gas emissions inventory. It is also working on its BUR (Biennial Update Report)[2], and SIDIK, which is the country’s system to generate vulnerability information. At the same time, BAPPENAS (the Ministry of Planning) has developed a mechanism to monitor, evaluate and report on development plans which have implications for the environment and the climate. Financing instruments have been developed, included the establishment of the Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund, and markets have been created by the Joint Credit Mechanism, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and the voluntary carbon market.

On (3), the means of implementation, the focus on capacity building and technology transfer is already captured in the national action plan for greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, which also includes training for writing up subnational mitigation action plans.

Taking about Indonesia´s ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’ (INDC)… What will it take to get from ‘intended’ to ‘implemented’? What are the big opportunities and challenges?

Challenges are manifold.  There needs to be effective engagement with multiple stakeholders.  Climate change responses should be integrated in the context of development.  For instance, there is an increasing acknowledgement that emissions reduction can be a good part of development. And this would require effective, consolidated master planning.

Decision processes should be based on the varied interests of the different stakeholder groups. Further, inclusive governance needs to be translated into working plans, for instance, determining how the government and diverse sets of non-state actors could put into place the common greenhouse gas emissions accounting system, or at least a protocol for data and information exchange.

By 2020, all these elements must be consolidated. By then, we must know how to mainstream climate into development plans. Before that, tools must be agreed. However, barriers exist. For instance, it has to be determined whether climate finance should be the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance exclusively, or whether MRV systems should be tackled only by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (known as KLHK), or whether an alternative  mixed approach is needed in order to make things more fluid and functional than structural.

The opportunities rest in the space for dynamic interactions. Consolidation is the beginning.  For instance, multi-sectoral institutionalisation of trust funds is now progressively being discussed.

Indonesia is one of the biggest recipients of climate finance, with more than US$430.9 million according to the Climate Fund Update. Most of it, more than US$412 million, is dedicated to mitigation projects… How do you expect this to evolve? In fact, the Climate Action Tracker rates Indonesia’s Nationally Determined Contribution (‘NDC’ – the plans submitted to the UNFCCC in advance of the Paris climate summit) as ‘inadequate’. Do you see this changing?

Indonesia has developed scenarios both unconditional, and conditional to international support being available. For instance, Indonesia´s INDC had scenarios of 29% and 41%, respectively[3].

Indonesia does not necessarily lack resources. However, its leverage will be stronger if there is substantial pressure from other global players (for instance, this could happen if the funding for the REDD+ agenda comes from international quarters). ‘Development partners’ (Editor: also known as ‘international donors’) actually have a substantial contribution to make. To implement REDD+, governance must be adapted to common norms and values, such as clear land ownership and tenurial rights as well as inclusive processes. International development partners often champion and help to institutionalise these values.

The Paris Agreement calls for limiting average global temperature rise well below 2C, as close to 1.5C as possible. Indonesia´s emissions are among the highest in developing countries, and growing– what hope to see economic growth and human development with lowered emissions in the specific case of Indonesia? Concretely how do you go about reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector, addressing food security and climate change, as well as sustainably increasing agricultural productivity?

To begin with, there must be effective efforts in developing green infrastructure. Here there is also space for consolidation.  For instance, the use of information and communication technologies, and progressive urban engineering can allow an accelerated transfer of goods and services without necessarily increasing energy consumption.  The needs for MRV systems, for example to estimate an individual’s use of motor vehicles, may also be applied in the near future.

Measures are also under way in order to increase efficiency and sustainability in agriculture.  There is an emphasis on adaptation and mitigation as co-benefits, with attention to enhancement of soil carbon stock, and integrated farming systems (including biogas). Integrated field schools promote the systemic intensification of rice production, including organic and bio-pesticides.

On land use, and land-use change and forestry (known as LULUCF), the drive to undertake REDD+ is already an achievement. One particular challenge to watch is the recurring peat fires. The valuable establishment of a national Peat Restoration Agency needs to be backed by strong support, including funding.

Have you any reflections on how the process Indonesia went through to come up with its NDC will affect what happens next?

Firstly, Indonesia’s NDC was made at a time of transition, with the merging of ministries of environment and forestry, which included consolidation of four climate change and REDD+ related institutions into one directorate general under the new Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK). There is also the Ministry of Planning (BAPPENAS), which is tasked to treat climate change as part of development.

The equation for the NDC should represent multiple stakeholder interests. Yet, the NDC had to be formulated before effective consolidation of the KLHK happened, and thus deeper elaboration and consultation would have helped. The NDC process ended up targeting potential sectors for action. It may be updated by taking into account the most recent dynamics, such as increasing forest fires and the birth of Peat Restoration Agency, as well as decreasing prices of fossil fuels and contemporary government policy, which encourages an increase in switch to gas.

One idea that the Ministry of Planning championed is the evaluation of the national action plan for greenhouse gas mitigation prior to revisiting the NDC.

The SDGs have many climate-related components, as well as a dedicated climate goal. What are some of the ways that the SDGs will influence the planning and practice of development in Indonesia in the coming years?

To see climate change as part of planning and development, leadership has been concentrated in the hands of one institution that is responsible for development, in this case, BAPPENAS. Subsequently, climate action must be captured in the larger development framework, e.g. what are the implications of a 29% emissions reduction for employment, health and other areas of development that are part of the SDG commitments?



OPINION: After Paris – “For El Salvador, this is a matter of survival”, Jorge Rodríguez

On her return from the Paris climate talks (COP21) last December, El Salvador’s Minister of Environment Lina Pohl seemed satisfied that the new agreement embraces old demands of the Central American region and other vulnerable countries, writes CDKN’s Miren Gutierrez. Among these: the fact that the agreement is legally binding, and that it includes efforts to maintain temperatures below 1.5C of warming; the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities; and an explicit distinction between adaptation, and loss and damage. Countries vulnerable to climate change seized the moment at the start of the UN climate talks in Paris by challenging Europe, the U.S. and China to increase their aspirations and establish a long-term temperature goal of 1.5C, rather than the 2C, of warming. The Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR–RC) is a principle within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that recognises the dissimilar capabilities and responsibilities of countries facing climate change. Before the Paris Agreement, the issue of loss and damage had been previously treated as a sub-category of adaptation.

In this interview, Jorge Rodríguez, country representative, offers a view on the future of El Salvador´s climate change commitments:

The Paris Agreement created an ambitious mandate for the global community. Does it change the national conversation in El Salvador about action on climate change? If so, how?

In Paris, El Salvador presented qualitative contributions related to its mitigation plans. The Ministry of Environment is expected to start work on its quantitative contributions this year. For the Government of El Salvador, the issue of the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution is very important because it is a way of putting the issue on the table at a national level. Their strategy is to establish the contributions of the country, to have them ratified by Congress, and from there on, to apply the commitments to different sectors.

As you said, El Salvador submitted its INDC – what will it take to get from ‘intended’ to ‘implemented’? What are the big opportunities and challenges?

El Salvador is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change. Besides, it is a country that has failed to grow economically for the past 20 years (the GDP growth rate is similar to the population growth rate). In this context, decisions about how to employ our resources generate a lot of socio-political conflict and tension, and this has become the biggest challenge El Salvador is facing right now.

On the one hand, climate change and weather-related disasters are generating great losses at social and economic levels in El Salvador, as well seriously affecting key sectors, such as agriculture and infrastructure. On the other hand, opportunities are being created as well, since solutions to this quandary can be found in green growth, with the possibility also to access climate finance: this way both economic development and a reduction of vulnerability would be produced.

The Paris Agreement calls for limiting average global temperature rise well below 2C, as close to 1.5C as possible. El Salvador’s emissions are very low, what hope is there to see economic growth and human development with low emissions in the specific case of El Salvador? Concretely how do you go about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, addressing food security and economic development, and climate change, as well as sustainably increasing food productivity?

El Salvador’s motivation is not fighting against global warming per se; this is a matter of survival. The increase in average temperatures in this country already exceeds 1.5 C. Most ecosystems, as well as the soil, are already degraded. We are also experiencing problems with water availability, along with droughts and extreme rainfall, which are causing havoc in the country’s economy.

In this regard, El Salvador does not have a commitment with the world, but a commitment with itself to reduce its vulnerability to climate change. That is why an approach to mitigation based on adaptation has been assimilated.

Under the Bonn Challenge[1], the Minister of Environment pledged to restore one million degraded hectares. In a 24,000 km2-country, this is more than a relevant dimension. With this initiative, the idea is to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases, but really its main purposes are bolstering our water resources, restoring soils so they regain their productive capacity and generating spaces that are safer for the people living in them, among other benefits.

If you check most INDCs from developing countries their emission reduction targets are subject to technology development, international climate finance and capacity building. What would happen if the means of implementation does not flow? 

While international support is important, El Salvador is taking steps as far as its own resources allow it. Some examples include the creation, at an institutional level, of a space for interinstitutional coordination, called Office of Environmental Sustainability and Vulnerability. This highlights how high this matter is in the political agenda. There are other initiatives, for instance, to create funds to encourage the restoration of ecosystems and landscapes, to which the private sector is contributing. The government is changing the regulatory framework as well in order to facilitate these measures.

El Salvador is a highly vulnerable country that has suffered the human and economic impact of a string of tropical storms in the past few years… Meanwhile, the SDGs have many climate-related components, as well as a dedicated climate goal. What are some of the ways that the SDGs will influence the planning and practice of development in El Salvador in the coming years?

The SDGs are already beginning to be incorporated into the planning processes of different areas. This is a process that is just beginning, and I cannot say that it is widely established. It is expected to gather more speed in the coming years. One of the important effects is envisioning is that, unlike the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals), the SDGs have a more holistic approach and reflect interconnections within different issues. In this sense, they are likely to foster joint initiatives, both at nationally and at regional levels.


References and further reading:

Read more about CDKN’s work in the country on the El Salvador page (in English or Spanish)

El Salvador is satisfied with the results of the universal climate change agreement in Paris (in Spanish)

Environmental sustainability and vulnerability cabinet (in Spanish)

Image: maize and beans for sale, El Salvador, courtesy Neil Palmer, CIAT.


[1] The Bonn Challenge is a global aspiration to restore 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded lands by 2020.

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Mujeres, factor principal en la acción contra el cambio climático

Mujeres, factor principal en la acción contra el cambio climático. Por (*) Miren Gutierrez

Miren Gutierrez.- Aunque en los discursos a menudo se hablar de la “perspectiva de género”, frecuentemente solo se trata de un mero recurso retórico. Tras el acuerdo de París, un nuevo informe muestra cómo incluir los puntos de vista y necesidades de las mujeres en las respuestas al cambio climático y las iniciativas de desarrollo no sólo es más justo, sino también tiene más sentido.

Fotografía:  Patricia Espinosa

“Aunque el cambio climático y la pobreza se entienden cada vez más como  interdependientes, las respuestas a estos problemas a menudo se centran sólo en sus aspectos científicos y económicos. Sin embargo, la integración de una dimensión de género puede ser la clave para el éxito”, dice Dr Virginie Le Masson, investigadors en el Overseas Development Institute (ODI) y experta en género del Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN)

Comparando tres estudios de caso en Gorakhpur (India), Ancash y Cajamarca (Perú) y Kisumu (Kenia), una nueva investigación llevada a cabo por Practical Action, en colaboración con Institute for Development Studies y ODI, documenta las experiencias de hombres y mujeres que viven en entornos urbanos afectados por el cambio climático. Los informes se basan en 89 entrevistas (54 hombres y 35 mujeres) y 33 grupos de discusión para reflexionar sobre las estrategias de adaptación.

En las respuestas al cambio climático, las mujeres se perciben generalmente como “víctimas”, lo que contradice la realidad y la contribución que pueden aportar en la mitigación y adaptación al cambio climático.

El Acuerdo de París fue celebrado como un ambicioso compromiso para limitar el calentamiento global a un nivel por debajo de los 2 grados centígrados, y si es posible 1.5C, con el fin de evitar los impactos más peligrosos del cambio climático sobre las personas y el medio ambiente. Para lograr esto, sin embargo, requerirá enormes niveles de cooperación.

Pero ¿qué es lo que se pierde cuando las mujeres carecen de voz en los planes contra el cambio climático? Las mujeres tienden a pensar más a largo plazo, y aumentar la resiliencia. Por ejemplo, el estudio de la India muestra que, en las familias donde las mujeres juegan un papel en la decisión de qué hacer con los ingresos, el dinero se gasta en educación, salud y alimentación. Por otra parte, en todos los grupos de discusión, los participantes coincidieron en que los hombres suelen gastar el dinero en alcohol y alimentos.

En la India, al papel de las mujeres en la planificación y la ejecución de proyectos (en lugar de ser simplemente receptoras de servicios) se le atribuye el logro de una mayor sostenibilidad de los proyectos, incluidos mejor acceso al agua potable, servicios públicos más eficientes y la captación de resistentes al clima agrícola técnicas. Por otra parte, las mujeres a menudo dan prioridad a grupos marginados como los beneficiarios de las intervenciones de proyectos.

Varios miembros del proyecto ACCCRN acordaron que: “Si no hubiera habido mujeres como participantes activas, los resultados del proyecto hubieran sido considerablemente inferiores, entre un 10 y un 20%, de lo que se logró. El proyecto ha sido sostenible  hasta el momento en gran parte por las mujeres involucradas en él”.

En Perú, fueron las mujeres quienes demostraron una mayor conciencia sobre el cambio climático y parecían ser más impactadas por éste.

Los peligros de no integrar los enfoques desde el principio en la planificación se exploran también en el informe.

“Los autores escucharon, por ejemplo, cómo las mujeres de Mahewa, en el distrito indio de Gorakhpur, ayunan durante el monzón, poniendo en peligro su salud, con el fin de evitar peligrosas salidas para defecar”, dice el doctor Le Masson. “Las mujeres dijeron tener miedo a ponerse en cuclillas, ya que grandes gusanos se adhieren a sus piernas”.

Las mujeres tienen que participar en la toma de decisiones y la planificación de los proyectos desde el principio para que sus necesidades sean tomadas en cuenta.

“Otra dimensión que ha sido explorado en el estudio son los diferentes desafíos y oportunidades que las ciudades representan para las mujeres en comparación con los de las zonas rurales, y de hecho este nuevo enfoque constituye un aporte al análisis sobre asuntos relacionados con el clima y el desarrollo”, dijo Sam Bickersteth, Jefe Ejecutivo de CDKN.

El estudio descubre una realidad compleja para las mujeres que viven en las ciudades. Por ejemplo, las mujeres en Kisumu, Kenia, informaron tener más mecanismos sociales de apoyo, en comparación con las zonas rurales. Sin embargo, existen menos redes sociales y más segregación de clases en las zonas urbanas que en zonas rurales, de acuerdo con Reetu Sogani, autora del estudio de la India.

Algunos de los obstáculos para la integración de género incluyen una falta general de voluntad política; el hecho de que la aplicación de la política por diferentes ramas del gobierno a menudo es descoordinada; y que los funcionarios públicos muestran una baja competencia en relación con las cuestiones de género y medio ambiente. Hay una falta general de conocimiento en lo relativo a las herramientas disponibles para incorporar el género en el desarrollo de una manera práctica y coherente también.

Con la creciente presión para la aplicación de medidas eficaces contra el cambio climático tras la firma del Acuerdo de París el 22 de abril, las autoras esperan que se dé una mayor participación de las mujeres y que la lucha contra las desigualdades de género se incorpore para asegurar la pertinencia y la sostenibilidad de la acción climática.

Nota: Puedes registrarte para participar en el evento de lanzamiento en Londres el 4 de mayo, 2016, en 14:00-15:30 GMT, en la sede ODI’s en 203 Blackfriars Road, Londres SE1 8NJ. O participar en línea en

*Miren Gutiérrez es Directora de Comunicación del Programa para el Clima y el Medioambiente del Overseas Development Institute en Londres, Gran Bretaña

Creadores de Opinión Verde #CDO es un blog colectivo coordinado por Arturo Larena   , director de EFEferde y EFEfuturo

OPINION: After Paris – Indonesia’s biodiversity protection efforts also hold climate change solution

How important are biodiversity and ecosystems services in achieving post-Paris commitments? Mr. Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, Senior Advisor for Climate Change, Ministry of Environment and Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia talks about the role of biodiversity conservation in combating climate change, and the importance of such an approach for Indonesia. Mr. Kusumaatmadja is one of the most respected and senior politicians in Indonesia, and has previously served ministerial posts for marine affairs and fisheries (1999-2001), the environment (1993-8), and  administrative reform (1988-93).

The Paris Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP21), with its global commitment to keeping  average global temperature  under 2 degrees Celsius and as close to 1.5 degrees as possible, sets the desired milestone for most of the parties, including Indonesia. Now is the time to act on it, and at the same time, to continue to think critically.

Indonesia’s adaptation and mitigation concerns emphasise energy, water and land-based issues.  The latter include forests, peatlands, agriculture, and biodiversity – on which political economy comes to play.

Indonesia’s own commitment (its NDC – or Nationally Determined Contribution) reflects the importance of forests and peatlands as well as anticipates the country’s quickly accelerating energy use.   Whereas forests and peatlands account for close to 70%  of all Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions, by 2030, energy is likely to catch up,  i.e. through increased transportation.

With Indonesia’s extent of tropical  rain forest (which FAO’s 2010 data puts as 94,432 million ha) remaining, there is no other way to go but to ensure effective implementation of sustainable forest management.  This calls for a ‘nexus’ approach that considers not only the carbon but also the water, energy, and food provided by the forests. In the coastal areas that are battered by erosion, mitigation can only be ensured by safeguarding nature’s own infrastructure, namely the mangroves through restoration and adaptation measures

One may also need to redefine sustainable agri-business with emphasis on the proper use of biodiversity.   Indonesia has relied much on introduced species such as rice, sugar cane, coffee, tea, and even rubber from, respectively, India, Latin American countries, Africa, China, and Brazil. Indonesia’s indigenous plants, such as the multi-purpose sugar palm tree, originating from tropical moist forests, has yet to be developed as proper agribusiness commodity, despite its ability to co-exist with other plants and to  deliver a vast range of ecosystem services.

The problem of adaptation is especially serious for the island nation of Indonesia.  Socioeconomics play a crucial role, especially since decreased food supply associated with climate change does not impact rich communities but poorer folks instead.  Coupled with scarce livelihood resources, this makes for a vicious poverty cycle. Here, again, would be the role for natural forests as a means of adaptation in providing landscape level protection (e.g. from flood and drought) as well as livelihood sourced from non-wood forest products. In other words, sustainable forest management will allow adaptation and mitigation to go hand in hand.

Recurring forest fires in Indonesia has much to do with agriculture in peatlands, especially for palm oil production.  Oil palm companies’ tend to raze and burn degraded forest land (once the commercially lucrative timber has been extracted) as a cheap and easy way of clearing the land for oil palm plantations. However, the fires take hold deep in the peat-based soil and smoulder for weeks or months, and local authorities lack the capability to restrain the fires

The newly established Peat Restoration Agency, reporting directly to the President, is a welcome initiative.  To achieve results, it needs to prioritise its work given the limited time and financial resources available. Priority areas for restoration, for which peatland rewetting technology will be important,  have been identified; namely Jambi, Riau, Sumatera Selatan, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan and Papua. As a matter of course, restoration has to involve local communities and local NGOs, as well as being oriented for developing biologically diverse livelihoods.  Unfortunately, due to ‘palm oil fever’, local people have been abandoning their traditional lifestyle.

Recently President Joko Widodo imposed a moratorium on palm oil plantation expansion on peatlands and high carbon value forests. A transformation of agricultural practise is therefore on its way towards strenghtened sustainability.

In conclusion, Indonesia has a lot to do in order to  deal with in mitigation and adaptation.  With the importance for energy switch and land use reforms, there must also be a realisation that Indonesia is a mega diversity country with rich ecosystems (57  types  in terrestrial ecosystem according to Indonesia’s senior botanist, Dr. Kuswata Kartawinata), and needs to   sustainably utilise  ecosystem goods and services, and  to restore ecosystems accordingly.