As countries move forward to deliver their NDCs and associated programmes and policies for climate compatible development, it is not just about getting the right finance in place (Chapter 4). It is also about getting the right ‘people skills’ in place and the right institutional structures. This is the case whether a government wants to implement a nationwide climate compatible development policy, or whether it is about expanding a successful local pilot initiative to deliver at greater scale.

Deepening people’s capacity and skills is important because climate change and its impacts on development are evolving fast – and so, too, is our understanding of how we should respond. Good flows of information and appropriate institutional structures and mandates are also vital because climate change cuts across geographies and sectors, affecting many facets of development and its delivery. This chapter is about what it takes to deliver results in climate compatible development and to build upon success.

Coordination across government is vital to delivering policies effectively

Achieving results calls for a commitment to for cross-government working, driven from the highest political levels and reinforced by institutional arrangements, training and targets for government departments.

Rwanda’s Government, driven by the President’s office and championed by the Ministry of Environment, has made considerable efforts to craft new institutional arrangements to help put its Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy into action. New cross-cutting bodies were created to drive forward, support and monitor climate-related policies. Setting up these new bodies has helped different government departments to avoid overlap, especially when it came to donor reporting, and to make the most of their given resources. In Kenya, the process of developing the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP), helped to raise awareness on climate change across ministries, including the Ministry of Planning. This included the appointment of individuals as focal points on climate change in different ministries. The NCCAP engagement process helped to make linkages between climate change and planned development activities, including medium- and long-term planning.

WORKING PAPER: Climate compatible development in the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’
WORKING PAPER: Climate compatible development in the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’

A case study from the Philippines tells a similar story from a city-level perspective. The city of Malabon is in Metro Manila, the national capital region of the Philippines. Malabon is one of the most densely populated cities in the country and its low-lying, flat terrain makes it prone to frequent flooding, especially during high tides, heavy rains and when rivers and dams overflow. Malabon’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, and its achievements in building resilience, demonstrate how the involvement of, and coordination among, different levels of government – from national to subnational and even to village level – yields more positive results. A CDKN Inside Story by the Partners for Resilience describes how local officials not only coordinated across jurisdictions to plan and implement an early warning system for hazardous floods in the city, but also worked to make development in the low-income neighbourhoods more climate-resilient by discouraging settlement and working to improve sanitation in the most flood-prone areas. The authors conclude, “The strong relationships among the members of the Partners for Resilience programme; the barangay council of Potrero and its committees; national Government and line agencies; and even partnerships with contiguous Local Government Units within the same river basin, all contributed to the successes of this project.” Another subnational example comes from the city of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia (see Box).

INSIDE STORY: Understanding the risk of flooding in the city: The case of Barangay Potrero, Metro Manila
INSIDE STORY: Understanding the risk of flooding in the city: The case of Barangay Potrero, Metro Manila

Coordination across government for climate compatible development in Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena's, Colombia municipal government took the lead when a vulnerability assessment, supported by CDKN, indicated that projections of climate impacts to the year 2040 showed how the coastline of Cartagena will move several hundred metres inland, affecting most of the coastal areas where human settlements and the main economic activities are situated (hotels, industries, ports, airport and tourism in the Old Town centre and islands).

This will impact all people from the poorest to the wealthiest, and jeopardise investment in the long run in a World Heritage Site. Cartagena’s authorities, together with its main economic sectors, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, the Chamber of Commerce of Cartagena, the Marine and Coastal Research Institute (INVEMAR) and CDKN have engaged in preparing for the Cartagena of the future by developing ‘Plan 4C: Cartagena de Indias competitiva y compatible con el clima’ (competitive and climate compatible Cartagena).

The development of Plan 4C has transcended different political administrations and leaderships, to position climate compatible development as a long-term strategic pillar for city planning. Five different administrations have played a crucial role in developing Plan 4C to ensure that a local government decision turns into a city policy that transcends political leaders and their administrations.

Time and again lessons from CDKN experience show that coordination across sectors and across different levels of government is more likely to deliver results.

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Legislation helps lock in commitment to climate action

Legislation on climate change plays two critical functions at national level. First, when climate change laws are passed, they provide the basis for long-term commitment to action. Although no decision in politics is truly irreversible, to a certain extent legislation can lock in a direction of travel and counter the vicissitudes of political turnover and change. Depending on the nature of a country’s political landscape, and assuming a multi-party democracy, the passage of climate laws also involves rigorous parliamentary debate and often a degree of cross-party consensus on the issues.

Second, climate change legislation can provide a framework and departure point for the development of further policies, regulations and voluntary measures for climate compatible development at a country level (and in federal systems, at state level).

CDKN has assessed key lessons learned from the processes of mainstreaming climate change into medium-term economic and development planning in Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Mozambique. According to CDKN Africa’s Lisa McNamara, who has managed this process, “political will and active government champions are the main drivers behind Rwanda’s climate compatible development strategies. In addition, environment and climate legislation created a critical, political enabling environment for the development and implementation of progressive climate compatible institutional arrangements, policies and strategies.

National climate compatible development planning in Rwanda, Kenya, Mozambique and Ethiopia
National climate compatible development planning in Rwanda, Kenya, Mozambique and Ethiopia

“Both the Rwanda and Kenya cases highlight how both good leadership and strong institutional and legal frameworks for climate compatible development are necessary for climate action, and are mutually supportive. Leadership in an institutional vacuum, or where institutional frameworks don’t support decision-making for climate compatible development through the clear allocation of mandates and responsibilities, isn’t as effective. In fact, institutionalisation may be a key indicator of government ownership and the strategic importance of climate compatible development, relative to other pressing issues.”

In Chapter 7, we explore how national climate legislation can act as a building block and a political impetus for greater ambition for countries – individually and collectively – in the international climate negotiations.

Kenya’s Climate Change Act: A springboard for greater society-wide progress on climate compatible development

On 6 May 2016, Kenya’s Climate Change Act, 2016 became law. President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to Kenya’s Climate Change Bill, 2014 after it was approved by both houses of Parliament (the National Assembly and the Senate).

This Act provides a framework for action that promotes low-carbon, climate-resilient development in Kenya, and is an important milestone on the country’s path towards developing its economy while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The outcomes will include:

  • mainstreaming climate change responses into development planning, decision-making and implementation;
  • formulating programmes and plans to enhance the resilience and adaptive capacity of human and ecological systems to the impacts of climate change;
  • reinforcing climate change disaster risk reduction in strategies and actions of public and private entities;
  • mainstreaming intergenerational gender equity in all aspects of climate change responses;
  • providing incentives and obligations for private sector contributions to achieving low-carbon climate-resilient development;
  • promoting low-carbon technologies to improve efficiency and reduce emissions intensity;
  • mobilising and transparently managing public and other financial resources for climate change responses;
  • providing mechanisms to facilitate climate change research and development, training, and capacity building;
  • mainstreaming the principle of sustainable development into planning and decision-making on climate change responses; and
  • integrating climate change into the exercise of power and functions of all levels of governance, and enhancing cooperative climate change governance between national and county governments.

The Act establishes a National Climate Change Council, chaired by the President, and provides an overarching national climate change coordination mechanism.

A major lesson learned from the process of developing Kenya’s Climate Change Framework Policy and Bill is the importance of stakeholder involvement and engagement. Governments often focus on stakeholders from outside government at the expense of those within government. The Kenyan experience underlines the importance of bringing on board both categories of stakeholders. Within government, the involvement of Parliament, county governments, and key national government ministries such as the National Treasury, and Devolution and Planning, have proved invaluable. It is also informative that membership of the National Climate Change Council cuts across the whole spectrum of stakeholders, with representation from both government and non-state actors.

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Capacity development plays a role for government workers

Delivering climate compatible development policies may call for information campaigns and even specialist training for personnel in government departments and a country’s civil service, if they are to deliver on national commitments. Governments’ self-identified need for awareness-raising and more specialist training has come up in the context of CDKN’s demand-driven way of working (we ask governments what they need to be able to design and deliver climate compatible development and then identify and mobilise the expertise, as requested). The need for capacity strengthening is also considered so vital by government representatives that this requirement forms a key pillar of the Paris Agreement. This emphasis in the Agreement has spawned a supporting Coalition on Paris Agreement on Capacity Building.

Article 11

Capacity building under this agreement should enhance the capacity and ability of developing country Parties, in particular, countries with the least capacity such as the least developed countries and those that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, such as the small island developing States, to take effective climate action including, inter alia, to implement adaptation and mitigation actions, and should facilitate technology development, dissemination and deployment, access to climate finance, relevant access to education, training and public awareness, and transparent, timely and accurate communication of information.

Paris Agreement (December 2015)

In developing countries, as in developed ones, the skills base for transitioning to a more climate-resilient, low-carbon economy is weak. The number of trained personnel with the understanding to ‘climate-proof’ investments for future climate-resilience and to design and shepherd low-carbon policies through implementation is generally low, and clustered in a few government departments in capital cities. Even if ministers and technical experts working at national level are well versed in the issues, it can be a significant job to educate and upskill the larger national, provincial and municipal government apparatus to deliver climate-related policies.

Sustainable Development Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
“Target 3.b Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.”

Sustainable Development Goals (2015)

Notwithstanding decades of structural adjustment programmes, most developing countries still have a sizeable civil service. It is often to these government departments that the main burden of implementation falls – including branches at state, provincial and district levels. The important point here is that when training and capacity support are mobilised, whether it comprises local or foreign support, it must be well-grounded in local political realities.

CDKN has learned that you can ‘fly in’ the knowledge or experts but not much changes unless and until it builds on local capabilities and capacity.

Sam Bickersteth, CDKN Chief Executive

In the state of Madhya Pradesh, India, government departments were charged with delivering the State Climate Change Action Plan. However, the state government lead on climate change recognised that one of the greatest challenges to uptake of the action plan was civil servants’ low awareness and commitment. CDKN worked with the state government to produce policy briefs tailored to each economic sector and helped them to disseminate the briefings to the relevant departments. The Madhya Pradesh Climate Change Knowledge Portal presents the action plan as a compelling resource and toolkit for a range of government and public audiences.

Training programmes aimed at building the skills of government planners for investment decisions in climate-proofing may be helpful. A regional initiative in Africa has recognised that comprehensive capacity building is needed in government to make water sector management more climate compatible. CDKN has been supporting the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) and the Global Water Partnership to meet a commitment to improving freshwater and sanitation access for their citizens by delivering the Water, Climate and Development Programme (WACDEP). The programme aims to increase African countries’ capacity and knowledge to integrate water security and climate-resilience into development planning.

AMCOW Capacity Building – Building capacity for climate resilient decision-making in water investments
AMCOW Capacity Building – Building capacity for climate resilient decision-making in water investments

From 2011-2013, the partners produced a framework to help decision-makers develop finance strategies and investments that would promote water security in a changing climate. They also created a technical tool, users’ guide, capacity-building plan and tailored policy briefs to help policy-makers apply the framework. The framework has guided a pilot phase of the Water, Climate and Development Programme in eight countries – Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Ghana, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tunisia and Zimbabwe. In these countries, the framework has helped define national water planning. Two critical elements come into play in defining this initiative: it has political backing through the ministers of the AMCOW alliance, which provides the space, time and resources needed for civil servants to take initiatives forward.

A learning brief about the Water, Climate and Development Programme capacity initiative underscored the importance of political backing, and drew a second, important conclusion: “by having programme management located in each country, it is possible to close the gap between training and participants’ work duties. This enables capacity development to be a process that slides in between training and implementation, and over time, support activities can turn into tangible outcomes and impacts.”

Monitoring and evaluation work by CDKN indicates that in many contexts evidence of real change emerges when training programmes are twinned with longer-term mentorship and partnership arrangements. In other words, as Nigel Simister, CDKN’s senior monitoring and evaluating advisor has said, “Mentoring and accompaniment are often the more important skills that can foster capacity development; in many places, the key seems to be long-term, systemic partnership” (for more detail, see Box). Such is the case in CDKN’s technical support programme to the Government of Ethiopia, where advisors are available to give rapid support on, for instance, options for national response to international policy and finance opportunities.

Developing the capacity for climate compatible development

Change in capacity occurs when you get:

  • Motivated individuals and institutions who are eager for
    change (character)
  • + quality inputs (applied, experiential, contextual) from trusted suppliers/staf
  • + the responsibility and opportunity to take action
  • + link with key stakeholders in the system.

CDKN works in partnership with agencies and individuals, which
already helps create the conditions for capacity to grow. Our aim is that all our projects: are locally owned and demand-driven; use local suppliers where appropriate, which helps adapt projects to local contexts and supports follow-through; encourage accompanied, ongoing engagement;and encourage collaboration among key external stakeholders.
What do we see as ‘quality’ inputs to cultivate capacity? To catalyse
genuinely sustainable change, we and others must:

  • focus on where there is already commitment and movement toward climate compatible development outcomes;
  • take an experiential approach that is rooted in the local culture and contextappreciate;
  • the interrelationship among individual, organisational and systemic forms of change;
  • involve learning from peers or local resource people rather than international experts;
  • use mentoring (or ‘accompanying’) support to provide ongoing follow-up;
  • provide opportunities for longer-term engagement, not just one-off, one-year projects; and
  • promote inter-organisational linkages with key actors in the wider system.

Cultivating capacity is about leaving individuals and organisations better able to support climate compatible development in the future. Like many other donor programmes, CDKN is concerned about what is left after CDKN support. We therefore assess carefully and monitor regularly whether our well-intentioned interventions are actually supplanting or undermining the growth of independent local capacity.

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Large-scale capacity building in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is one of the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to mainstreaming climate resilience measures in national policies

Bangladesh is one of the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to mainstreaming climate resilience measures in national policies, as documented in the CDKN Inside Story Bangladesh’s Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme.

Since 2007, over 25,000 officials from the national to the local
level have received disaster management training. In addition, the
Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme (CDMP) established
numerous collaborations and training partnerships to enhance the
technical capacity of government officials. The government is also
engaging Bangladeshi universities in the development of disaster
management curricula. Fourteen national universities had been
engaged by the end of the first three years.

Capacity building is also taking place at the local level. For example,
the Livelihood Adaptation to Climate Change (LACC) programme,
which focuses on areas prone to drought and saline intrusion, helps
rural communities adapt to climate change. Since 2009–2010, LACC has
been directly implemented by the Department of Agricultural Extension,
exemplifying the institutionalisation of CDMP goals throughout the
government. These, and other CDMP initiatives, are designed to increase
the nation’s capacity to proactively address its vulnerability to natural
hazards and threats. Although it is too early to tell whether they will have
a long-lasting impact, the final evaluation of Phase I (to 2009) found
that the Disaster Management Information Centre played an important
role in information management during Cyclone Sidr and floods in
2007. Effective early warning systems coupled with public awareness
campaigns and evacuation systems are credited with keeping the death
toll from Cyclone Sidr below 4,000.

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INSIDE STORY: Bangladesh’s comprehensive disaster management programme
INSIDE STORY: Bangladesh’s comprehensive disaster management programme

China’s embrace of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) provides a large-scale case study. Belinda Kinkead describes how the Chinese Government was at first slow to respond to the market opportunity provided by the CDM. However, once it committed to engaging, the government endorsed several donor-led capacity-building initiatives to raise awareness and capacity in its regions. It mobilised its large civil service apparatus to establish and support provincial CDM service centres to identify opportunities and provide project assistance.

INSIDE STORY: Harnessing market mechanisms to promote sustainable development – Lessons from China
INSIDE STORY: Harnessing market mechanisms to promote sustainable development – Lessons from China

Secondments and fellowship programmes pay dividends

Internship, fellowship and secondment programmes have all been incorporated as important features to encourage policy delivery in CDKN focal countries. In Rwanda, in spite of good progress in implementing the Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy, “National and subnational agencies still struggle with nascent institutional arrangements for environment and climate issues, and they have limited capacity to implement national policies and plans”, find Caldwell, Dyszynski and Roland in their country study.

One of the approaches trialled in Rwanda, which has helped address the skills shortage, is the Rwanda Environment and Management Authority internship programme that “places talented young graduates with relevant experience as environment and climate focal points in key ministries and districts.” In fact, it has been so helpful that Caldwell et al. recommend that the programme should be expanded and institutionalised.

And this is not the only place where this approach has proven fruitful. An action research project in Gorakhpur – a flood-prone district of Uttar Pradesh, India, described in a CDKN Inside Story – found that by seconding a technical expert from a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) to the District Disaster Management Authority for the entire project duration, the programme established an effective mechanism for day-to-day coordination of its activities. This helped integrate climate change concerns with existing disaster management activities, including flood risk reduction.

INSIDE STORY: Integrating climate change concerns into disaster management planning
INSIDE STORY: Integrating climate change concerns into disaster management planning

Gender-sensitive approaches to implementation yield better results

Had women not participated actively, the outcomes would have been considerably less, maybe around 10-20% of what was achieved. It is largely because of women … that the project has been sustainable so far, as well as effective in resilience building.

ACCCRN project staff, India

A three-country comparative research project into the outcomes of gender-sensitive approaches for development and climate programme goals, found that gender-sensitive approaches lead to more sustainable outcomes in terms of the length and effectiveness of activities (see box for a definition of terms). When decision-making processes have been opened up to include women, as in Peru, initiatives tend to be better organised, and results to be more transparent and comprehensive. In these cases, initiatives have more detailed information on the day-to-day climate change and poverty challenges families and communities face. By contrast, the evidence base presented by this project revealed that where women’s active involvement was lacking, it negatively affects the implementation, monitoring and overall sustainability of interventions to enhance people’s climate resilience.

10 things to know: Gender equality and achieving climate goals
10 things to know: Gender equality and achieving climate goals

Key definitions of gender approaches in climate compatible development

Projects and programmes should at minimum adopt a ‘gender-sensitive’ planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation approach. On a scale from weakest to strongest gender approaches, we may define projects and programmes as:


Project description/proposal does not refer to any particular gender aspects or differences between men and women.


Project description shows an awareness of gender issues by mentioning differences that need to be taken into consideration, but actual activities do not follow a gender approach consistently, from design to implementation to monitoring and evaluation.


Project follows a gender-sensitive methodology (gender-analysis, gender disaggregated data are collected, gender-sensitive indicators in monitoring and evaluation, etc.) and aims to promote gender equality.


Project follows a gender-sensitive methodology, aims to promote gender equality and also to foster change and challenge gender discriminatory norms and/or root causes of vulnerability to climate change, and of unsustainable development. In other words, the project aims to address the underlying causes of environmental
or development issues.

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The social impacts of policies must be monitored

It is essential to monitor the impacts of policies on women and socially disadvantaged groups – and adapt policies if needed. Ongoing social impact assessment is not only important for tracking poverty reduction outcomes. It is also important for making sure there are not social biases in policy implementation which undermine the achievement of climate and environmental goals.

Two desk studies by the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) for CDKN demonstrate how programmes for climate compatible development were not achieving as well as they could, due to lack of gender sensitivity – once these aspects were addressed, the results improved.

Mali’s Household Energy and Universal Rural Access Program – a renewable energy initiative backed by the Global Environment Facility – aimed to reduce poverty and boost economic growth. In its initial years, however, fewer women than men sought electricity for small enterprise development. A programme assessment recommended that more female extension agents should be involved to target women-run businesses and provide them with access to microfinance. The ‘missed opportunity’ identified by programme managers provided important lessons for future renewable energy programmes in Mali. The Malian agency concerned “developed a partnership with UN WOMEN to work jointly on promotion of income generating activities for individuals through the rational use of energy sources and technologies, and on increasing the availability of functional equipment tailored to needs of women and men. The findings of the gender assessment were also integrated in the preparation of the Scaling Up Renewable Energy (SREP) investment plan [in Mali].

In another example, a programme in Nepal aimed to replace unsustainable fuelwood use with renewable biogas for household use. The Nepal Biogas Support Program (BSP) – supported by the Government of the Netherlands and non-governmental organisation SNV – was intended to increase household access to energy services while tackling deforestation and land degradation. The programme had great potential to alleviate women’s hardship:

“Since women are primarily responsible for household cooking and fuel supplies, they benefit significantly from the BSP – especially through time savings (less wood collection), reduced workloads and improved energy services. This opened up more opportunities for women to earn income and increase their economic contributions to the family.”

Reaching women to encourage them to join the programme was therefore of great importance. Following an evaluation of gender aspects, programme leaders recognised that more female extension agents were needed to reach out to women – for awareness-raising, training in the biogas stove systems and to test the suitability of new designs with them. At the time of writing, the BSP was on track to deliver its targets of 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent avoided every year. Reaching 250,000 households as of 2011, it is one of the largest biogas programmes globally.

Policy change may be needed in light of market response to subsidies

As discussed in Chapter 3, fiscal policy measures in the form of taxes, charges, subsidies, incentives and budget allocations can help generate revenue for environmental and social purposes, shift behaviour towards low-carbon activities and stimulate green investment by pricing environmental externalities. However, economics is an inexact science and the effectiveness of all these measures in attaining their goals is influenced by producer and consumer behaviour – as well as unforeseen external economic shocks such as the dramatic rise or fall of global oil prices.

CDKN analysis shows how producers have responded to levels of subsidy and economic incentive and how this, in turn, has led policy-makers to fine-tune fiscal instruments to accelerate uptake of green behaviour. The CDKN Inside Story on the expansion of renewable energy technologies in Thailand documents how the Government of Thailand’s favourable feed-in tariff rates led to very high and effective levels of uptake of solar photovoltaic technology – to the extent that the subsidy payouts created a burden on the country’s Treasury. Programmes for small and very small power producers created predictable conditions for renewable energy investors to sell electricity to the grid. The feed-in premium guarantees higher rates for renewable energy, making the investments profitable. The Thai Government is now adapting its policies to take account of recent technological progress and market growth. It is considering a sophisticated feed-in tariff to better control costs, while continuing to offer an enabling environment for renewable energy investments.

INSIDE STORY: Pioneering renewable energy options: Thailand takes up the challenge
INSIDE STORY: Pioneering renewable energy options: Thailand takes up the challenge

In Zambia, a research study explored how a reliable, cost-effective and equitable carbon offset scheme could be devised, using a randomised controlled trial with smallholder farmers. The project, implemented by the NGO Innovations for Poverty Action, aimed to shed light on the factors that determine in which ways climate-smart agricultural technologies are adopted by smallholder farmers in developing countries. It teased out the causal relationship between input costs, offset incentives and farmer characteristics on the one hand and outcomes, including programme take-up and tree survival rates, on the other. The Government of Zambia’s Department of Forestry is taking the research results into account in the implementation of a very large-scale tree-planting programme across the country – considering how to re-design the input and reward schemes associated with tree planting.

Carbon offsetting for Zambia’s small holder farmers
Bringing water to the crops thanks to an irrigation project – DFID, UK Department for International Development
Bringing water to the crops thanks to an irrigation project – DFID, UK Department for International Development

Better monitoring and evaluation systems are needed to measure how climate compatible development policies deliver across adaptation, mitigation and development

At the start of this book, we said that CDKN’s mission is to support climate compatible development, which delivers triple wins across poverty reduction and human development, together with mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. However, the job of assessing whether triple wins are happening is difficult – because, generally, programmes are not well monitored and evaluated across all three areas.

In CDKN’s own portfolio and among case studies CDKN has published of others’ experiences, there is evidence of ‘triple win’ benefits, particularly in natural resource sector-based policies and programmes: in REDD+ pilots, rural agroforestry and reforestation programmes. One of the clearest case studies to demonstrate these multiple benefits is ‘Going after adaptation co-benefits: a REDD+ programme in Fiji’ (other strong examples are in urban and peri-urban agriculture and forestry– see box above– and Smart Energy Paths in West Africa, see Chapter 3).

INSIDE STORY: Going after adaptation co-benefits: A REDD+ programme in Fiji
INSIDE STORY: Going after adaptation co-benefits: A REDD+ programme in Fiji

Often the evidence of ‘triple win’ outcomes is only strong in one area (i.e. development or mitigation or adaptation) and the evidence of ‘wins’ in the other areas is thin or purely anecdotal. For example, Ecuador’s Socio Bosque programme was created in order to safeguard rural livelihoods and in view of the broader sustainability benefits of conserving forest. From the outset, only the socioeconomic benefits were closely monitored and evaluated. The Government of Ecuador has collected household economic data to demonstrate improved development outcomes. Latterly, the government recognised the potential for securing REDD+ financing for the programme and is now ‘retro-fitting’ REDD+ readiness requirements, so greenhouse gas emission data will eventually be collected. It is well documented elsewhere (see, for example, Ward’s case study on Fiji, above) that forest conservation initiatives like the Socio Bosque programme deliver significant climate adaptation benefits. Largely intact, healthy forest ecosystems are more resilient to climate extremes than degraded ones. They therefore provide a steadier flow of environmental goods and services to dependent human populations, helping to buffer them from slow-onset climate change and extreme events. However, given the Socio Bosque scheme’s economic roots and more recent climate mitigation approach, there is not yet a systematic analysis of the programme’s climate adaptation benefits.

INSIDE STORY: Ecuador’s Socio Bosque Programme
INSIDE STORY: Ecuador’s Socio Bosque Programme

The same general point may be made with regard to the REDD+ related case studies from Tanzania and Viet Nam. These programmes are driven by the interest in mitigation financing through REDD+. Without adaptation objectives being flagged in a programme’s design, these benefits are unlikely to be measured and fully acknowledged.

INSIDE STORY: Working together for REDD+ – developing a national readiness strategy in Tanzania
INSIDE STORY: Working together for REDD+ – developing a national readiness strategy in Tanzania
INSIDE STORY: Distributing the benefits from REDD+ – the case of Viet Nam
INSIDE STORY: Distributing the benefits from REDD+ – the case of Viet Nam

Many of the energy sector cases CDKN has documented demonstrate, or have the potential to demonstrate, outcomes both for cutting or avoiding emissions and to bolster economic growth. The story of solar water heating expansion in Barbados is particularly instructive because excellent data exists to show the energy generated by the solar water heating sub-sector, the approximate fossil fuel use displaced by solar water heating, and the costs of imported oil that were avoided. South Africa’s Renewables Initiative provides a large-scale but nascent example where the metrics of avoided greenhouse gas emissions and green jobs will be monitored carefully as the country attempts to shift out of polluting coal-based power generation into renewable alternatives.

INSIDE STORY: Seizing the sunshine – Barbados’ thriving solar water heater industry
INSIDE STORY: Seizing the sunshine – Barbados’ thriving solar water heater industry
INSIDE STORY: Making renewable energy affordable – the South African Renewables Initiative
INSIDE STORY: Making renewable energy affordable – the South African Renewables Initiative

Neither of these cases, nor those like them, clearly articulate the climate adaptation benefits, which are not easy to measure. The intellectual challenge lies in assessing the counterfactual: how vulnerable would Barbados’ or South Africa’s energy systems be to climate impacts such as extreme hot days, sea level rise and new, disruptive precipitation patterns, without the renewable energy programme in question? What choices would they have made otherwise? In most cases, it may not be possible to document a clear decision trail whereby an energy ministry chose to invest in decentralised renewable energy systems with reduced climate vulnerabilities, compared to a named fossil fuel alternative where the climate vulnerabilities of the generation and transmission infrastructure can be clearly shown.

CDKN’s Inside Stories document a number of national policies that aim to achieve climate-resilient development – in the Philippines, for example. In Mainstreaming climate resilience into government: The Philippines Climate Change Act, Katharine Lofthouse concludes that admirable progress has been made on developing systems and financing for climate adaptation and resilience; but, until now, the policy’s low-carbon objectives have not been harmonised and integrated with mainstream economic activity.

INSIDE STORY: Mainstreaming climate resilience into government – the Philippines Climate Change Act
INSIDE STORY: Mainstreaming climate resilience into government – the Philippines Climate Change Act

If anything can be learned from the modest evidence assessed here, it is that ‘triple win’ approaches are rarely articulated in policy and programme objectives. For those policies that appear to demonstrate ‘triple win’ outcomes, sometimes more by luck than by design, there are data and methodological challenges to quantifying the benefits on all three fronts. Major donor and government programmes, including research programmes, should invest more time and effort in developing these methodologies.

Tompkins et al. reach a similar conclusion from their in-depth research into climate compatible development projects in Belize, Ghana, Kenya and Viet Nam. They recommend, “A more strategic assessment of the distributional and financial implications of ‘triple wins’ policies” in donor programmes and national government policies.

POLICY BRIEF: An investigation of the evidence of benefits from climate compatible development
POLICY BRIEF: An investigation of the evidence of benefits from climate compatible development