What is adaptation to climate change? Epistemic ambiguity in the climate finance system
- 661 Downloads
Over the past decade developed states have committed significant public financing for climate change adaptation. Much of this public financing flows through international development organizations. States have delegated the implementation and monitoring of adaptation to existing international organizations such as the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Scholars have noted that states delegate discretion to specialized organizations to perform a task on their behalf, but have not explored how uncertainties about the nature of the task affect delegation. This article addresses this gap by distinguishing the concept of epistemic ambiguity (when states are uncertain about the exact nature of a task) from strategic ambiguity (when states do not reach consensus over a task due to political differences) in order to address the question: how have states and international organizations defined and implemented adaptation activities? The question is answered through case studies of: (1) adaptation projects administered by the United Nations Development Programme and the International Organization for Migration in Kenya; and (2) states’ and international organizations’ attempts to develop methodologies for reporting adaptation financing. The case studies are based on: primary documents published by states and international organizations, secondary literature on climate finance, and interviews with adaptation experts. This article argues that states have not precisely defined adaptation, and that this is substantially due to epistemic ambiguity. It then identifies two consequences of epistemic ambiguity: a proliferation of activities labelled as adaptation, and difficulties tracking and monitoring adaptation assistance.
KeywordsClimate finance Adaptation Ambiguity Principal-agent theory Delegation
African Development Bank
Conference of the Parties
Global Environment Facility
International Development Finance Club
International Organization for Migration
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Least Developed Countries Fund
Multilateral development banks
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience
Special Climate Change Fund
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Thanks to Catherine Weaver for significant input into earlier iterations of this article. Thanks also to Erin Graham, Susanna Campbell, Joyeeta Gupta, and the three editors of this special issue (Carola Betzold, Jonathan Pickering and Jakob Skovgaard) for their constructive comments.
- Adaptation Learning Mechanism. (2015). Piloting climate change adaptation to protect human health in Kenya. http://www.adaptationlearning.net/project/piloting-climate-change-adaptation-protect-human-health-kenya. Accessed 2 Apr 2016.
- AdaptationWatch. (2015). Toward mutual accountability: The 2015 adaptation finance transparency gap report. http://www.adaptationwatch.org/#our-publications. Accessed 2 Apr 2016.
- African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), & the World Bank (WB). (2014). Joint report on multilateral development banks climate finance. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
- BBC. (2009). Kenya to declare food emergency. BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7821260.stm. Accessed 2 June 2016.
- Buchner, B., Falconer, A., Hervé-Mignucci, M., Trabacchi, C., & Brinkman, M. (2011). The landscape of climate finance. http://climatepolicyinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/The-Landscape-of-Climate-Finance-120120.pdf. Accessed 22 May 2016.
- Buchner, B., Stadelmann, M., Wilkinson, J., Mazza, F., Rosenberg, A., & Abramskiehn, D. (2014). The global landscape of climate finance 2014. Climate policy initiative (CPI). http://climatepolicyinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/The-Global-Landscape-of-Climate-Finance-2014.pdf. Accessed 2 June 2016.
- Buchner, B. K., Trabacchi, C., Mazza, F., Abramskiehn, D., & Wang, D. (2015). The global landscape of climate finance 2015. Climate policy initiative (CPI). http://climatepolicyinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Global-Landscape-of-Climate-Finance-2015.pdf. Accessed 2 June 2016.
- Bulkeley, H., & Newell, P. (2015). Governing climate change (Global Institutions). Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
- CICERO & Climate Policy Initiative. (2015). Background report on long-term climate finance, for German G7 presidency. http://climatepolicyinitiative.org/publication/background-report-for-g7-on-long-term-climate-finance/. Accessed 2 June 2016.
- Cortell, A. P., & Peterson, S. (2006). Dutiful agents, rogue actors, or both? Staffing, voting rules, and slack in the WHO and WTO. In D. G. Hawkins, D. A. Lake, D. L. Nielson, & M. J. Tierney (Eds.), Delegation and agency in international organizations (pp. 255–280). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- GEF. (2011). Accessing resources under the special climate change fund. Global environment facility. https://www.thegef.org/gef/sites/thegef.org/files/publication/23470_SCCF.pdf. Accessed 2 June 2016.
- GIZ. (2014). The vulnerability sourcebook, concept and guidelines for standardised vulnerability assessments. Berlin: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.Google Scholar
- Hall, N. (2016). How refugee, migration, and development organizations respond to climate change. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Hawkins, D. G., Lake, D. A., Nielson, D. L., & Tierney, M. J. (2006). Delegation under anarchy: States, international organizations, and principal-agent theory. In D. G. Hawkins, D. A. Lake, D. L. Nielson, & M. J. Tierney (Eds.), Delegation and agency in international organizations (pp. 3–38). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hisschemöller, M., & Hoppe, R. (1995). Coping with intractable controversies: The case for problem structuring in policy design and analysis knowledge and policy. The International Journal of Knowledge Transfer and Utilization, 8(4), 40–60.Google Scholar
- IDFC. (2014). Climate finance tracking: Comparison of the MDBs and the IDFC methodologies IDFC. https://www.idfc.org/Downloads/Publications/01_green_finance_mappings/IDFC_MDB_Methodology_Comparison_07-10-14.pdf. Accessed 2 June 2016.
- IOM. (2011). Livelihood support to pastoralist communities and refugees’ host communities in response to climate change and refugee influx in northern Kenya. Nairobi: IOM.Google Scholar
- IPCC. (1990). Climate change: The IPCC scientific assessment. In J. T. Houghton, G. J. Jenkins, & J. J. Ephraums (Eds.), Report prepared for intergovernmental panel on climate change by working group I. Geneva: IPCC.Google Scholar
- IPCC. (2001). Climate change: The scientific basis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- IPCC. (2007). Climate change 2007: Synthesis report. Contribution of working groups I, II and III to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Geneva: IPCC.Google Scholar
- JICA. (2011). JICA climate-FIT (adaptation). Tokyo: Offfice for Climate Change, Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Global Environment Department.Google Scholar
- Lyne, M. M., Nielson, D. L., & Tierney, M. J. (2006). Who delegates? Alternative models of principals in development aid. In D. G. Hawkins, D. A. Lake, D. L. Nielson, & M. J. Tierney (Eds.), Delegation and agency in international organizations (pp. 41–77). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Martin, L. L. (2006). Distribution, information and delegation to international organizations: The case of IMF conditionality. In D. G. Hawkins, D. A. Lake, D. L. Nielson, & M. J. Tierney (Eds.), Delegation and agency in international organizations (pp. 140–165). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Möhner, A., & Klein, R. J. T. (2007). The global environment facility: Funding for adaptation or adapting to funds? Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). https://www.sei-international.org/publications?pid=777. Accessed 2 June 2016.
- Moore, F. J. (2010). Doing adaptation: The construction of adaptive capacity and its function in the international climate negotiations. St Antony’s International Review, 5(2), 66–88.Google Scholar
- OECD. (2011). Handbook on the OECD-DAC climate markers. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
- Persson, Å., Klein, R., Siebert, C., Atteridge, A., Muller, B., Hoffmaister, J., et al. (2009). Adaptation finance under a Copenhagen agreed outcome (p. 201). Stockholm: Stokcholm Environment Institute.Google Scholar
- Roberts, J. T., & Peratsakis, C. M. (2010). Measuring ODA for climate change: Comparing 19 categorizations of DfID’s 2,226 FY2008-09 projects. Unpublished research report submitted to the UK’s Department of International Development.Google Scholar
- Roberts, T., & Weikmans, R. (2015). Is the ‘$100 billion by 2020 goal’ from Copenhagen being met!? A dispatch from the Paris climate conference. Brookings. http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/planetpolicy/posts/2015/12/04-the-100-billion-by-2020-goal-dispatch-paris-climate-conference-roberts-weikmans. Accessed 2/4/2016.
- Schipper, E. L. F. (2007). Climate change adaptation and development: Exploring the linkages. Tyndall centre working paper no. 107, July 2007. Tyndall Centre.Google Scholar
- Stern, N. (2009). A blueprint for a safer planet: How to manage climate change and create a new era of progress and prosperity. London: Bodley Head.Google Scholar
- UNDP. (2007). Adaptation to climate change: Doing development differently. UNDP briefing note. New York: UNDP.Google Scholar
- UNDP. (2008). Kenya: Adapting to climate change in arid and semi-arid lands—UNDP project document, PIMS 3792. Nairobi: UNDP.Google Scholar
- UNDP. (2013). UNDP administrator at the fifth summit of the Tokyo international conference for African development side event: Africa on the move: Stories of climate resilient development from the Japan-funded Africa adaptation programme. http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/presscenter/speeches/2013/06/01/helen-clark-speech-at-the-fifth-summit-of-the-tokyo-international-conference-for-african-development-side-event.html. Accessed 2 June 2016.
- UNDP. (2015). Adapting to climate change. http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/ourwork/environmentandenergy/strategic_themes/climate_change/focus_areas/adapting_to_climatechange/. Accessed 2 June 2016.
- UNFCCC. (1992). United Nations framework convention on climate change. Document FCCC/IMFORMAL/84.Google Scholar
- UNFCCC. (2009). Decision 2/CP.15. Copenhagen accord. Document FCCC/CP/2009/11/Add.1.Google Scholar
- UNFCCC. (2010). Decision 1/CP.16. Cancún Agreements. Document FCCC/CP/2010/7/Add.1.Google Scholar
- UNFCCC. (2015). Decision 1/CP.21. Adoption of the Paris Agreement. Document FCCC/CP/2015/10/Add.1.Google Scholar
- UNFCCC Standing Committee on Finance. (2014). 2014 Biennial Assessment and overview of climate finance flows report. Bonn: UNFCCC.Google Scholar
- Watkiss, P., Baarsch, F., Trabacchi, C., & Caravani, A. (2014). The adaptation funding gap. In UNEP (Ed.), The adaptation gap. Nariobi: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).Google Scholar
- Weaver, C., & Peratsakis, C. (2011). Can better tracking of adaptation aid reduce climate change vulnerabilities on the ground? Climate change and African political stability. Research brief no. 2. Austin, TX: Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security & Law.Google Scholar
- WHO. (2016). Health adaptation to climate change. http://www.who.int/globalchange/climate/gefproject/en/. Accessed 2 June 2016.
- World Bank. (2011). Economics of adaptation to climate change. http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2011/06/06/economics-adaptation-climate-change. Accessed 2 June 2016.
- World Bank. (2012). Tracking climate finance at the World Bank. http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2012/06/06/Tracking-climate-finance-world-bank. Accessed 2 June 2016.