Universal Meters for Climate Adaption

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, saw climate adaptation and resilience (A&R) in the limelight, acknowledged as a global goal of the highest priority. Developed countries reaffirmed their (so far unfulfilled) commitment to devote $100 billion annually to A&R in developing countries. But while money is essential, it should be spent as effectively as possible. And here we run into a problem: what exactly is A&R and how will we – investors and stakeholders – know if we are achieving it? For climate mitigation, there is a straightforward metric: tons of CO2 abated. In contrast, there is no standard yardstick for appraising the A&R ambition of an investment or measuring its actual success. This impedes efficient investment; complicates the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) task of a global stocktake of A&R progress; and inhibits our ability to learn what works, in what contexts, and why, in promoting A&R. This paper outlines an approach to two related goals:

Incorporating A&R impacts into investment project1 appraisals (and into evaluations of completed projects): climate projects can provide a wide range of benefits, and many development projects contribute to A&R. The Global Innovation Fund (GIF), like some other investors, appraises project proposals based on a single, comprehensive measure of all the social benefits the project delivers. GIF has recently launched a sub-fund (the Innovating for Climate Resilience fund) focused on A&R. How should GIF incorporate A&R benefits into its impact assessment methodology?

To allow investors and the global community to track, with a common yardstick, contributions to A&R: impact-oriented investors who make commitments to advancing A&R need a mechanism for tracking impact and holding themselves accountable. Commercial investors wish to be recognised, as part of an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) framework for A&R co-benefits.

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