Earth today | “Marrying adaptation to climate change with social protection” | News

AS THE world seeks to achieve transformative preparedness for the impacts and risks of climate change, a reminder has come to value and pursue the “marriage” between adaptation and social protection programs.

“Integrating climate adaptation into social protection programs, including cash transfers and public works programs, is highly feasible and increases resilience to climate change, especially when supported by services and basic infrastructure,” notes the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). report, Climate change 2022: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.

“Social safety nets are increasingly being reconfigured to build the adaptive capacities of the most vulnerable in rural and urban communities. Social safety nets that support adaptation to climate change have strong co-benefits with development goals such as education, poverty reduction, gender inclusion and food security,” added the report from the United Nations body, which is responsible for assessing the science of climate change. .

Adaptation to climate change is seen as particularly critical for small island developing states, including those in the Caribbean which are among the countries most vulnerable to impacts and risks. These impacts and risks include sea level rise and associated coastal erosion and loss of coastal livelihoods; as well as extreme weather events, such as the hurricanes of recent years that have caused billions of dollars in damage and loss of life.

The IPCC is not alone. A 2008 article, titled Social protection and adaptation to climate change, authored by Mark Davies and others, notes that “Social protection and climate change adaptation have much in common, as they both seek to protect the most vulnerable and promote resilience. Yet they remain somewhat disparate areas of research, policy, and practice.

“While social protection aims to build resilience to certain climate-related disasters, insufficient attention has been paid in the area of ​​social protection to the long-term risks posed by climate change. Similarly, adaptation to climate change has not fully considered the policy and programmatic options that social protection can provide,” the paper notes.

This gap, the document says, should be closed, citing weather-indexed crop insurance as an example of how this can be done.

“…There has been a shift from insurance against poor crop yields to direct weather insurance. A contract is written against an index establishing a relationship between lack of rainfall and crop failure, verified by long historical records of rainfall and yields. Farmers receive an immediate payout if the index reaches a certain metric, or ‘trigger’, regardless of actual losses, so farmers still have an incentive to make productive management decisions,” the researchers explained.

“When designed well, they can also enable farmers to improve their adaptive capacity through greater experimentation with risk-taking in farming practices that is not possible in insurance schemes. -harvest,” they added.

Another example used is that of asset transfers.

“The sale of productive assets such as livestock is a common coping strategy among the rural poor in times of climate stress or shock. The inability to access these assets traps the poor in a persistent cycle of chronic poverty. Thus, a sustainable disaster reduction strategy must focus on activities to help vulnerable people build assets that incorporate climate screening, to ensure that these assets are capable of supporting resilience in a changing climate,” said the paper said, citing a number of other researchers. .

The Global Commission on Adaptation, in its 2019 report, championed the need for more investment in this area, noting that governments should “expand and adapt social safety nets to support response to shocks and resilience to long term”.

“With the right beneficiary data, existing social protection systems can be modified to provide additional benefits in emergencies or reach a wider group of people in need. Social safety nets can be an important element of livelihood security for smallholder farmers, and similarly for urban residents living in poverty and the informal sector,” said the Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership in Climate Resilience report.

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Joel C. Hicks