D&C Days 2019: five pathways to a climate-resilient future

Over the last decade, Development & Climate Days (D&C Days) has built a reputation for providing stimulating and interactive debate on topics and issues at the interface of development and climate change during the middle weekend of the UN climate change talks.

Article, 11 December 2019
UN climate change conference (COP25)
A series of pages related to IIED's activities at the 2019 UNFCCC climate change summit in Spain (COP25)

This year’s D&C Days explored the ambitious actions and transformational systems that countries are using or need to use in order to meet their Paris commitments at COP26 in 2020. The event brought together thinking from various sectors – food and agriculture, finance, cities, infrastructure, biodiversity – that are seeking coherence and cross-cutting collaboration to ensure climate resilience for all.

Almost 250 participants from the grassroots to policymakers discussed and debated our five themes through a respectful and lively dialogue, and together arrived at key messages that we will share at targeted events during the second week of COP25 and at key international milestones during 2020 on the road to COP26.


Building resilient food and agriculture systems

Transformative climate resilience actions are urgently needed within the agriculture and food systems. From smallholders and communities to large agri-food businesses and the public sector, farm to fork actions must include the entire food value chain. This theme explored how, in the growing climate crisis, it is urgent to build capacities, support and track progress on building climate-resilient and regenerative agriculture and food systems.

Pastoralists with goats and cattle

  • Agreeing on a key set of interventions and related indicators to track progress will help to build resilient and sustainable agri-food systems. An inclusive process for selecting a simple, universal ‘must-have kit’ of targets and indicators should draw on metrics in existing global policies, programmes and initiatives. As well as fostering a united vision and common narrative on climate resilience with public, private and community actors, a set of agreeable indicators should be offered allowing climate actions to be tracked from producer to consumer and at all levels, particularly locally.
  • We need a collective understanding of climate risks and the role partnerships between government, business, civil society and communities can play in tackling them. Government-enabled dialogues between companies, farmers and civil society can grow mutual understanding and empathy; this in turn supports the development of resilient and sustainable agri-food systems that support community and corporate interests. Aligning interests early on supports climate adaptation and mitigation investments in the agri-food sector, which is central for sustainable development and leaving no one behind.
  • Risk-sensitive social protection is a climate action for building inclusive adaptation and resilience for agri-food systems, especially for the poorest households among small-scale farmers and food workers. Social protection, as a critical intervention for building climate resilience across sectors, must receive greater funding. The most effective investment of those funds is achieved through a territorial approach that considers local factors including poverty levels, population groups, types of livelihood and nature-based solutions.
  • Linking early warning and social protection systems creates a proactive mechanism in which anticipatory actions reduce the impact of disasters. Principles from insurance risk finance can also be applied to social protection, making agri-food systems more risk-informed and shock-responsive.

Early warning, early action to leave no one behind

Recognising that the poorest, most vulnerable people are also most at risk of being left behind by national efforts to adapt, this theme showcased how to improve the financing, flexibility and effectiveness of early warning, early action systems.

Men stand at forest river bank awaiting a small boat

  • Remittances: a potential funding source for early warning systems? Improved forecasting and early warning systems allow many diaspora families advance warning of threats to their home nations. Linking concerned communities with money transfer organisations and early warning systems could be an innovative way to finance the latter (although ultimately families maintain the right to use funds as they see fit).

    Challenges to this funding source for early warning systems include regulatory frameworks around money transfers, inaccurate forecasting, and whether funds are reaching the most vulnerable people.
  • ‘Climate grief’ can become climate action. Anxiety and depression about the future can be countered with gratitude, empathy and altruism, energising us to move from climate grief to climate action. Psychosocial support is a vital element of helping people to cope with bleak predictions and to learn the life skills necessary for an uncertain future; linking ‘climate warriors’ with psychosocial supporters would be a first step.
  • Draw on existing experience when applying global norms and guidelines to local contexts. For gender-sensitive and people-centred early warning systems, we already know that it is essential to bring together the people who will be using weather and climate forecasts and those producing them. This ensures warnings will be understood and acted on. For example, heatwaves are a silent killer and at-risk populations are often unaware of their vulnerability; the message must be given in a targeted, tailored way to be effective.

    Bringing together multiple actors over long timeframes and systematically documenting these practices is critical as is systematic documentation of such practices through initiatives such as the Risk-informed Early Action Partnership (REAP). These principles would need to be applied in mechanisms supporting countries such as the Climate Risk Early Warning Systems (CREWS).

    The Colombian government’s efforts to merge disaster preparedness with long-term adaptation planning required wide stakeholder consultations that introduced new perspectives and areas for collaboration (such as energy and water sectors); these are now captured in its National Adaptation Plan.

Financing a resilient future

Climate finance must reach the local level, where climate impacts are felt most acutely. With this goal, this theme focused on how to strengthen resilience, using effective finance mechanisms that respond to the needs and challenges of climate change impacts.

Close up of colourful moss

  • For best outcomes, we must consider the quality of climate finance as well as the volume. For example, new flood defences should not compromise fishery livelihoods, or increase land values in a way that may displace vulnerable people.
  • More exploratory, longer term financial thinking is needed. Future delivery of adaptation finance should move away from linear thinking that results in incremental project investments to a portfolio logic that supports investments in inter-connected activities. This must be accompanied by a shift in the private sector mindset, focusing less on short-term returns and more on long-term investment logic that recognises portfolios as a mechanism for hedging risks in light of a complex problem such as climate change.
  • Gender-responsive adaptation investment should be informed by gender analysis of inequalities. Such an analysis must run from planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation through to reporting to enable equitable responses that are sustainable in the long term and address the differentiated risks of climate change facing different groups.
  • Improved governance is needed to develop and embed financing mechanisms that support locally led adaptation. There is increasing recognition that grassroots adaptation needs support, as demonstrated by the Asian Development Bank’s Community Resilience Partnership Programme and moves to mainstream climate risk into national planning. There are also models of mechanisms that can effectively channel money to the local level, such as the decentralised climate finance programme in Mali.

Establishing resilient cities and infrastructure

This theme brought people together to reimagine the climate-resilient cities of the future. We explored local examples of resilient planning, innovative approaches for developing cities, and the potential of climate-resilient infrastructure; all of which we can take to city planners to promote risk-informed policy and establish resilient systems and infrastructure.

Boys paddle a raft along a flooded street

  • Low-income urban communities must be central to processes enhancing resilience, from design to implementation and financing. Collaboration with vulnerable communities will enable a detailed qualitative understanding of how they manage risk and use urban services; that information can then inform investment decisions and manage risks.

    A strong grasp of future urban vulnerability and exposure to the local perspective is essential for accurate risk assessments and project planning. For truly inclusive practices, we must create ‘science brokers/translators’ who can connect and communicate effectively with communities and other actors.
  • Nature-based solutions are critical to urban environment. Green spaces and blue spaces in cities can help reduce the impacts of heatwaves and flooding, as well as restore carbon and improve air quality. They also offer benefits for protecting biodiversity, mental wellness and carbon sequestration.
  • Transformative climate action must include changes in financial systems. To support this, it is important to improve the financial literacy both of communities and adaptation practitioners, focusing on areas of climate finance and investment.
  • Innovation requires central support. Innovative strategies may be identified by local groups, such as young people, in response to problems defined by the local community. These ideas should be realised in partnership with government, to ensure smooth funding streams and future implementation.

Working with nature to build resilience

This theme explored the importance of working with nature to build a resilient future in areas including agriculture systems, cities and infrastructure networks. As support for and uptake of nature-based solutions (NbS) in climate policy grows, we looked at the opportunities and challenges around scaling-up solutions based on lessons learnt on the ground.

Illustration land, oceans, flora and fauna. City and mountains in the background

  • NbS must be used and scaled up in all sectors to build climate resilience. The conservation and restoration of nature and sustainable use of natural resources can help societies adapt to climate change and provide significant mitigation, development and biodiversity co-benefits. This breadth of benefit means NbS are essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially when working with the uncertainty of climate change.
  • Multi-stakeholder cross-sectoral partnerships are vital to deliver and scale up NbS actions to build climate resilience. Enhancing nature’s resilience to help societies to adapt requires action at landscape level; for example, across entire basins from source to sea, connecting forests, cities, source waters and coasts. These efforts must be multi-sectoral, with collaboration between public and private sector actors, in contexts from rural to urban environments.

    Some of the challenges to scaling-up NbS projects can be tackled by: raising awareness and capacity; mainstreaming NbS into policy; building clear business cases; and developing innovative financing approaches.
  • Successful NbS requires participatory approaches and valuing indigenous and local knowledge. Local communities and indigenous peoples are already experts in implementing NbS; they already work with nature to adapt to climate change impacts, building on their traditional knowledge and customary governance systems. Policymakers, researchers and NGOs should support and empower local communities and indigenous peoples to continue to be the champions of NbS approaches for long-term resilience.

The road to COP26

Road to Glasgow COP26 2020

The D&C Days partnership will now focus on what’s ahead – moving into 2020 and beyond, how we can link the key messages to major milestones and, more importantly, ensure messages are resonating with key agents for change, ranging from the grassroots to the major global institutions shaping how funding flows and policies address the needs of the most vulnerable.

The partnership will connect and engage with global conversations throughout the year, linking to other key events and policy processes on the road to COP26. These range for opportunities for engagement at the Gobeshona conference in January 2020 and the rest of the year's key global meetings such as Adaptation Futures, CBA14, the international regional climate action weeks, the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) Climate Adaption Summit in October 2020, and many more on the road to COP26 in Glasgow.

About the organisers

This year’s event was organised by a partnership by the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (RCCC), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), EIT Climate-KIC, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)Global Resilience Partnership (GRP), International Development Research Centre (IDRC), United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the V20/G20 InsuResilience Global Partnership for Climate and Disaster Risk Finance and Insurance.

With contributions from: Asian Development Bank (ADB)International Centre for Climate Change and DevelopmentMercy Corps, NAP Global NetworkRIMISP – Latin American Center for Rural Development and World Resources Institute.