RESOURCES
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KEY FINDINGS on Harnessing Climate Finance for Rural Adaptation in the Lower Mekong Basin
6 July 2016
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Author: Kevin Carlucci, Del McCluskey, and Ornsaran Manuamorn

This key findings report offers a guidance from the field for policymakers to ensure the coming wave of adaptation funds reach rural communities whose residents are often the most vulnerable to the changing climate. In the first part, we provide an overview of international climate funds and follow with descriptions of common barriers to accessing those funds. Then, we end with recommendations on both policy and implementation—some of which were learned by the USAID Mekong ARCC project—to unlock rural adaptation financing.

According to the 2016 World Bank Report entitled “Shock Waves—Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty,” climate change has the potential to significantly increase poverty across the globe, with the magnitude of this increase dependent on development choices. The report found that a “business as usual” approach to climate change, in which inclusive and climate-informed development is absent, could increase poverty globally by between 35 million and 122 million people by 2030. Agricultural vulnerabilities caused by the changing temperature and rainfall patterns are expected to play a significant role in pushing vulnerable people back into poverty, especially through higher food prices, crop and livestock losses, and reduced agricultural production.

Given projected climate change impacts in the Lower Mekong region, reducing risks for smallholder farmers and rural villages is essential, especially in areas where there is still a strong subsistence economy. USAID Mekong ARCC’s approach to strengthen community resilience integrates modern science and traditional knowledge so that rural communities themselves can identify the potential risks to their livelihoods and environment. Working in five sites across the Lower Mekong, the project focused on explaining the scientific projections, building awareness of weather/climate data sources, expanding understanding of community vulnerability, and identifying robust adaptation measures.

Scaling rural adaptation initiatives and demonstrating their value as related to large-scale infrastructure projects will require focus and determination at the national level. That said, national-level policy makers must also keep up with the evolving global climate financing marketplace and developing pipelines of robustly designed local adaptation projects.

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