Building resilience and greening the COVID-19 recovery in least developed countries

Least developed countries (LDCs) are currently dealing with multiple shocks from both climate and COVID-19-related impacts. IIED and country partners have been undertaking in-depth research to explore policy responses to build forward better from COVID-19 from the LDCs’ perspective. 

March 2021 - October 2021
Binyam Yakob Gebreyes

Senior researcher, IIED's Climate Change research group; head of governance, LIFE-AR

Stepping up global ambition for climate action and justice
A programme of work showing how IIED is supporting the most vulnerable countries to increase global ambition to stay below 1.5°C
A woman holds a poster with instructions. Another one holds a loudpseaker and points at a poster.

Youth volunteers raise awareness against the spread of COVID-19 among communities (Photo: United Nations Peacebuilding via FlickrCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread disruption in least developed countries (LDCs), curbing economic activity and increasing the pressure on national health and social support systems, threatening hard-won development gains.

LDCs are already experiencing the worst impacts of climate change and facing multiple challenges that require undivided financial and technical resources. However, there are opportunities to build back better with climate-friendly policies that can deliver a better result both for the environment and economies.

As the Paris Agreement moves into post-2020 implementation, harnessing the levers of both national implementation and global decision-making to bring about transformational change will be key to COVID-19 response and recovery.

IIED has been undertaking in-depth research, as requested by the LDC Group, to explore policy responses to build forward better from the LDCs’ perspective. This focuses mainly on four workstreams: 

  1. Mobilising resources for equitable, green and resilient recovery through debt relief and debt swaps  
  2. Delivering rapid support for a green and resilient COVID-19 recovery 
  3. Renewable energy access for jobs and livelihoods, and
  4. Local nature-based solutions for COVID-19 recovery and resilience. 

Through a series of briefings, blogs and guides, IIED and partners will explore policy responses and potential pathways to build forward better from the LDCs’ perspective.

In parallel, IIED also collaborated with The Gambia’s COVID-19 Socio-Economic and Recovery Secretariat to produce two policy briefs. The research explores the considerations and requirements for effective national recovery planning and proposes strategic interventions.

The secretariat, in partnership with UNDP, is aiming to reprioritise the current national development plan to serve as a blueprint for a resilient and green recovery – one with people, nature and climate at its core.

Taking an in-depth look at the opportunities presented by green financing mechanisms and cross-sectoral planning for an effective COVID-19 recovery in The Gambia, much of the research is applicable to the recovery journeys of other LDCs.

At COP26, two events were organised to encourage creditors and receiving countries take up climate and nature debt instruments.

The first, at the Resilience Hub, features a high-level dialogue between debtor governments and creditors to reach political commitments for more large scale, programmatic debt swaps for climate and nature. Watch an edited recording below or on IIED's YouTube channel.

And the second, at the 2021 Development & Climate Days, focused on emerging approaches to address the debt, climate and nature triple crisis, why they are needed and what lessons are being learned, alongside the roles of different actors in these approaches. Watch an edited recording below or on IIED's YouTube channel.