The purpose of this book is to synthesise lessons from the first seven years’ work of CDKN – the Climate and Development Knowledge Network. Established in 2010, CDKN has funded research, policy advice and knowledge programmes, globally and in more than 70 countries. It has also supported negotiators and negotiating groups.

The book is written for policy-makers. It has been prepared by CDKN’s experts and programme managers. However, it is backed up by the published work of dozens of independent analysts and researchers, drawn from CDKN’s global network. Their work is referenced throughout the text.

The guiding idea of CDKN since its inception has been ‘climate compatible development’. This is the idea that tackling climate change cannot be at the expense of reducing poverty and achieving human development. Indeed, synergies must be found wherever possible.

The idea of climate compatible development is intuitively attractive, and has gained widespread traction since we first proposed it in 2010. It is now an idea that has become central to the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and that is reflected in the Paris Agreement. The global goals are transformative in scope precisely because they require action on climate change to be mainstreamed in all aspects of development work. The Paris Agreement articulates the necessary level of ambition.

CDKN’s work demonstrates that climate compatible development offers great potential for strategic action by governments, civil society and the private sector. There are many win-win benefits as new technologies are disseminated and as new investments are made to boost resilience. Those opportunities and benefits are explored in the text.

No-one should pretend, however, that achieving climate compatible development will be friction free. We have seen that there are inevitably choices to make, trade-offs to consider and political battles to win. There are also leadership and management challenges aplenty as finance is raised, programmes scaled up, and public and private sector actors held to account. Much of the analysis in the book, and many of the case studies, deal with these questions – offering not just a diagnosis of problems, but also stories of change which can inspire and inform action elsewhere.

As CDKN has worked with governments and others, seven issues have come to the fore and have demanded solutions.

  • First, eliminating ambiguity in the concept of climate compatible development, and exploring complementarities and trade-offs in the implementation of climate and other policies to deliver the SDG goals and targets.
  • Second, making the case and winning the argument, in countries where leaders face many competing demands on political capital and resources.
  • Third, managing climate compatible development planning in ways that mainstream climate concerns into development planning and ensure cross-government coherence.
  • Fourth, finding the resources to cover the additional costs of climate compatible development, drawing on international as well as domestic sources.
  • Fifth, creating the right culture and instruments for implementation, to ensure that plans are not blown off course.
  • Sixth, delivering at scale, so that impact is transformational in scale and irreversible.
  • Seventh, linking the national to the global, so that national interests are well-represented in global negotiations, and global agreements reflected in national action.

Chapter 1 sets the scene by exploring the multiple linkages between climate change and the SDGs. It goes without saying that poor people will be most affected if temperature rise leads to more extreme weather events – and that securing the livelihoods of poor people must be a key consideration in mitigation plans. Even more challenging, the core framing of climate compatible development, post-Paris, needs to be that a start has been made in curbing emissions, but that much more remains to be done. Adding up all the national pledges at Paris, the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) promise no more than a third of the emissions cuts needed by 2030. Far more ambitious pledges will be needed in the subsequent assessment rounds.

Action on the scale required will be highly disruptive of existing economic and social models. Indeed, action on climate change will trigger a new industrial revolution. Terms like ‘disruptive innovation’, ‘insurgency’ and ‘creative destruction’ are frequently used. Inevitably, there will be winners and losers, nationally and globally, as between geographies, generations and genders, as well as sectors. Leaders know that ‘Business As Usual’ will not be enough to deliver climate compatible development. Do they sufficiently understand how different ‘Business Unusual’ is likely to be?

Chapter 2 is designed to help leaders make the case and win the argument. In some countries where CDKN has worked, it is the impact of disasters that has given leaders the impetus they need; in others, it has been economic opportunity; in still others, it has been concern for energy security. In some countries, of course, it is the existential threat to the very territory of a country that has driven a passionate engagement with the topic. The idea of ‘co-benefits’ often offers a hook for engagement: cleaner air, for example, or reduced congestion. Sometimes, leadership originates at national level. In other cases, the original impetus comes from regional administrations or cities, or from the private sector. In no case with which CDKN is familiar, however, does consensus ‘just happen’: political skills and alliances need to be harnessed to the cause of climate compatible development.

CDKN’s experience is that it becomes easier to build a consensus when the facts are clear. That is why it has been important to ‘translate’ and disseminate the findings of independent bodies like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); but also to commission and share detailed, national-level studies of present and future impact. Knowledge brokers play a crucial role. The availability of data and analysis, often sketchy at first, but always improving, allows leaders to begin to build a consensus, a movement for change.

Chapter 3 addresses the question of how to build on the entry points created by the political process. If mainstreaming is to be successful, climate compatible development planning cannot be the prerogative of Ministries of Environment, however vital those are as catalysts of progress. In the countries where CDKN has worked, climate compatible development becomes credible only when Ministries of Finance, Planning, Energy, Infrastructure, Industry and Agriculture become fully committed. All stakeholders need to be involved, including the many private sector actors and civil society groups. Careful attention is needed to the incentive and regulatory framework as well as to public expenditure. Gender issues need to be central throughout. None of this is easy to manage, though the best cases supported by CDKN show what can be done to mobilise interests and help them work together. Locally and nationally (and also globally), it is important to think about pathways to transition, identifying who might gain and who lose from policy change, and crafting policy packages which ease the pain of losers as well as smoothing the path to innovation.

Chapter 4 tackles the question of resourcing climate compatible development. Aid, and especially official climate finance, is one instrument, but far from the only one. Spending is dominated by national budgets and private sector flows. Climate compatible development will cost trillions not billions, and these amounts will only flow if the right regulatory frameworks are in place, and if public finance is used in imaginative ways to overcome market failures and leverage other funds. That is why CDKN has supported climate finance readiness in many countries, with a special focus on blended finance, to reduce the risk of innovation for the private sector. It has also been important to support decentralised and smaller-scale innovations. There is much more to do in this field, however. For example, there is likely to be more attention in the future to restructuring fiscal policy in ways which capture the externalities of carbon pollution. CDKN has supported innovative approaches to payment for ecological services.

Chapter 5 deals with the transition from plans and pilot projects to sustained implementation. In CDKN-supported countries, and in many others, legislation has played an important part, whether focused on national or sectoral carbon pollution targets, or on specific regulations for vehicle emissions or the like. Successful implementation has also depended on strong cross-government coordination, and this in turn has benefited greatly from having sufficient numbers of people exposed to climate change issues and trained in relevant analysis. Capacity can be built in various ways: internally, through on-the-job training, or via fellowships and secondments, including internationally.

Chapter 6 is about scaling up, how not be trapped in a ‘pilot phase syndrome’. This is certainly not a problem unique to climate compatible development. Lessons from CDKN experience, and from development programmes more widely, point to the importance of telling good stories, supporting project champions, and providing leaders with compelling evidence from monitoring and evaluation. Once a snowball effect can be induced, professional networks play a role through learning and peer exchange. Again, none of this happens on its own. CDKN has demonstrated that careful early planning, combined with strategic investment, is necessary to secure a multiplier effect.

Finally, chapter 7 deals with the interconnection between local and global. Both are necessary, neither is sufficient. It is necessary to ‘think global, act local’, but also to ‘think local, act global’. CDKN has demonstrated that bottom-up approaches deliver results locally, as one might expect, but also resonate nationally and globally: stories of change in one locality inspire change in others. At the same time, action locally is much harder, often impossible, without global frameworks. A global price for carbon may still be some way off, but international negotiations need both to provide a consensus on destination and a practical commitment to the means of implementation, including financial and technological. That is why CDKN has supported climate negotiators, and shared many lessons about how to manage global interactions. For example, climate diplomacy cannot be left to climate specialists alone, but needs to benefit from the full panoply of a country’s diplomatic skills and instruments. Non-official voices have played an important role everywhere, especially in making the moral case and emphasising the urgency of action. Leaders have many natural allies in support of action – and need them.

This book offers much more detail to elaborate these arguments. As a final point, however, it is worth emphasising one key lesson from CDKN experience – and one deeply embedded in the work underpinning the book. This is that there is no single blueprint, applicable everywhere and for all time, to the challenge of climate compatible development. Climate change is a threat everywhere, and hopefully action on climate change is an opportunity for most. Mitigation, adaptation, resilience and transformation will be key themes as countries strive to attain the SDG goals and targets. However, progress at country level, and subnationally, will be idiosyncratic, progressive, and probably uneven, characterised by sudden leaps forward and occasional, unexpected setbacks. The challenge for leaders, and indeed for all those engaged in climate compatible development, is to prepare for such a process. The accumulation of cases and experiences in this book provides reassurance that others around the world are facing similar challenges; and encouragement that progress is possible.

Simon Maxwell
March 2017