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adaptation

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Climate change mitigation and adaptation investment needs are urgent, significant, and growing. The world will need to devote trillions of dollars into clean energy, sustainable transport, and other green infrastructure to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees C and prevent the worsening effects of climate change. Private sector investment will be critical to achieving the type of low-carbon, climate-resilient growth necessary to secure a sustainable future.

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India struggles with water scarcity, a problem that poses especially huge implications for the country’s food security and rural livelihoods. The country has long-battled its scarcity issues through Watershed Development, a participatory approach to improve water management through afforestation and reforestation, sustainable land management, soil and water conservation, water-harvesting infrastructure, and social interventions. But while watershed development has been employed in communities throughout India, its potential long-term costs and benefits have not been well-understood or studied--until now.

A new working paper from WRI and WOTR finds that watershed development has provided more than $9 million dollars’ worth of food security and water management benefits to the water-stressed community, Kumbharwadi.

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Watershed Development (WSD) in India has been a part of the national approach to improve agricultural production and alleviate poverty in rainfed regions since the 1970s.

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In most developing economies, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) employ up to 78 percent of the population and account for approximately 29 percent of the national GDP. Their presence in communities throughout the world– big and small, rural and urban – allows them to get products and services to hard-to-reach populations. This market concentration and high level of employment means MSMEs are in a good position to contribute to making vulnerable populations more climate-resilient.

But while MSMEs can assist in helping vulnerable households adapt to climate change, they are also extremely vulnerable to the impacts of a warmer world, such as intensification of precipitation and shifts in water availability. It’s important that MSMEs overcome these challenges and capitalize on their unique business opportunities in ways that help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change.

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Multinational companies (MNCs) typically have operations and supply chains in many parts of the world. The way they respond to climate change, therefore, can affect many populations, including poor communities in developing countries, where many people are especially vulnerable to heat waves, sea level rise, and other climate change impacts. MNCs sometimes find themselves in tension with local groups and the environment, but they can also play an important role in making these communities more climate-resilient.

Here are three ways that MNCs can contribute to climate change adaptation in developing countries:

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This year’s climate negotiations in Warsaw, Poland (COP 19) were a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the summit’s outcomes were dramatically out of step with the level of action needed to solve the climate change problem. A tempting metaphor for the talks was the national stadium in which they were held– one could go around in endless circles in search of the right location.

On the other hand, the Warsaw COP did achieve the incremental outcomes needed to move the process forward. Negotiators put in place a work plan for securing an international climate agreement at COP 21 in Paris in 2015. The COP also made progress on scaling up climate finance and addressing the difficult issue of loss and damage, a process for addressing climate impacts that are difficult or impossible to adapt to. These are small but important steps toward bringing countries out of their repetitive, circular discussions and closer to agreeing collectively on how to address global climate change.

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Adapting to the impacts of climate change—like heat waves, increased floods, and natural disasters—is an enormous challenge. It’s also one that comes with an enormous price tag. Although it’s difficult to calculate the extent of the costs, the World Bank estimates that developing countries need $70 to $100 billion USD per year through 2050 to meet their current and future climate adaptation needs.

The Climate Policy Initiative, however, estimates that in 2011, only $4.4 billion USD in adaptation finance went to developing countries. This leaves a gap of anywhere from $65.6 to $95.6 billion USD per year between what developing countries need and what developed nations are giving.

So who can help fill this gap?

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The unexpected rise in food prices in 2008 had a complex causality, with climate variability acting as an important trigger. This was followed by the financial meltdown in 2009 and high food prices again in 2011-12. These complex crises,

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Developed countries committed to provide US$ 30 billion in new and additional climate finance between 2010 and 2012 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

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The issue of "loss and damage" will be a critical component of the discussions at COP 19 in Warsaw. These negotiations could be contentious and emotional—and not surprisingly, given what is at stake. Losses and damages under scenarios well below four degrees of warming could, over time, include the submergence of mega-cities, the collapse of major ecosystems, and the loss of entire island nations. But the loss and damage (L&D) negotiations need to succeed for COP 19 to succeed—and for the global community to get on track to achieve an ambitious, effective, and equitable climate change agreement in 2015.

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The amount of adaptation finance has increased in recent years, at least in part as a result of agreements reached at the U.N. climate negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009. In the past year, Oxfam, WRI, Overseas Development Institute, and civil society networks in Nepal, the Philippines, Uganda and Zambia have been working together to figure out just how much adaptation finance has been flowing to these four countries and where it’s going. It’s a bit like trying to figure out the tangle of plumbing and pipes in an old house. There is money for climate change adaptation coming from different sources, flowing through different channels, and being used for different purposes.

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The amount of international climate finance approved to help developing countries address the impacts of climate change increased considerably between 2008 and 2012.

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Parties to the UNFCCC established the Adaptation Fund in 2008[^1] to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. The Fund has gradually evolved since then, and it’s about to embark on its newest development: a safeguard policy to ensure that its investments do not have unintended negative consequences for people or the environment.

The move represents potential progress in the effort to promote climate justice and adaptation. The Adaptation Fund holds a small but important share of global climate finance, distributing more than US$ 180 million to adaptation activities spanning 28 countries. An Environmental and Social Policy—which the Board recently released a draft of—can help ensure that that these funds do not support projects that generate unintended environmental or social impacts.

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