Breaking out of the development silos

Many of the world's least developed countries, hit hard by the impacts of climate change, are among the front-runners in finding ways forward for climate-friendly economic development, Fatima Denton has told IIED.

News, 22 March 2016
African Climate Policy Centre director Fatima Denton speaks at the 2015 Development & Climate Days event at COP21 (Photo: Matt Wright/IIED)

African Climate Policy Centre director Fatima Denton speaks at the 2015 Development & Climate Days event at COP21 (Photo: Matt Wright/IIED)

The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are showing that action on climate change no longer needs to be seen as separate from development, according to Fatima Denton, a member of IIED's LDC Independent Expert Group (IEG) and director of the African Climate Policy Centre at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Interviewed during COP21 last December during the Development & Climate Days side event in Paris, where she gave the keynote speech, Denton said she believed the LDC Group was increasingly managing to highlight within the negotiations how the cumulative effects of under-development and the impacts of climate change were affecting their economies and affecting livelihoods.

She said that this made it clear how crucial climate finance was for the LDCs, and that this was always a challenging agenda to take forward.

"I don't think it's that easy for them to get their voices heard," she said.

But Denton, who was due to speak about the Paris Agreement and what it means for Africa at an event organised by University College London's Energy Institute and the French Embassy on 23 March, said many of the LDCs were already the front-runners in moving towards a low carbon development model.

"They are doing quite a lot already," she added. "Even with their weak economies they are doing quite a lot to address the technology gap. They are doing quite a lot to plug the information asymmetry that they face. And they are doing quite a lot also in terms of just plugging the adaptation gap."

Climate change, she explained, is affecting key sectors of LDC economies, and that is why the development impact must be addressed alongside climate action. Many of the LDCs depend heavily on agriculture, forestry and on energy resources. These sectors are affected by, and affect, the climate – and so these issues must be addressed together.

Denton's interview at COP21 can be viewed below and on IIED's YouTube channel.

Denton called for a new paradigm for African development when she became the latest 'outstanding woman in development' to give IIED's Barbara Ward Lecture in 2014. The lecture series celebrates IIED's founder, Ward, a renowned economist, journalist, and policy advisor who was among the earliest advocates of sustainable development.

IIED spent 36 hours with the lead climate negotiator for the Least Developed Countries Group at COP21 to better understand the challenges and obstacles faced when negotiating for the world's poorest. The result was an interactive long read showing how the LDC Group manages to make its voice heard in the power games of international relations.