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EU development cooperation links with climate action

17 November 2016
by eub2 -- last modified 18 November 2016

Factsheet on the links between the European Union's initiatives on development cooperation and climate action


How is development linked to climate change?

The implications of climate change are visible around the globe – across sectors, population groups and countries. Climate change does not only add a further layer of complexity and challenges to our development work. It also jeopardises the achievements of earlier efforts, may lead to reversals in poverty reduction and places communities further at risk. Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to risks posed by climate change and are less resilient to its impacts, as their economies tend to depend more on climate-sensitive natural resources and sectors, such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

Consequently, it is crucial that climate challenge is well integrated into sustainable development plans and strategies.

What projects is the EU implementing in partner countries to support climate action?

The EU and its Member States are the biggest contributors of climate finance to developing countries, having provided €17.6 billion in 2015. Out of this, the European Commission has been financing €1.5 billion. One major initiative, which was established by the European Union in 2007 to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with developing countries, is called the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA). It focuses in particular on least developed countries (LDCs) as well as Small Island Developing States (SIDS). After its successful work in four pilot countries, the new phase called GCCA+ now supports 51 programmes around the world and is active in 38 countries, 8 regions and sub-regions and at the global level. In line with the current EU Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF 2014-2020), this EU flagship initiative supporting climate resilience has now a budget of about €350 million and is one of the most significant climate initiatives in the world. By fostering effective dialogue and cooperation on climate change, the Alliance helps to ensure that those developing countries who are most vulnerable to climate change increase their capacities to adapt to the effects of climate change. Its ultimate goal is to support poverty reduction and sustainable development.

What is being done in terms of energy, and particularly for supporting renewable energy deployment in Africa?

EU development policy in sustainable energy aims to support our partner countries' economic growth – powered by sustainable, affordable, reliable, and modern energy for all. The three objectives of our energy and development engagement are: i) to address the lack of energy access; ii) to increase renewable energy generation; and iii) to contribute to the fight against climate change. These priorities are supported by three key drivers: political ownership and partnerships on sustainable energy, an adequate regulatory framework and governance of the energy sector and boosting investment through innovative financial instruments.

Specific attention is given to Sub-Saharan Africa where half of the global population without access to energy lives, and where demographics aggravate the issue with repercussions for political stability and migration. The EU-Africa priority actions on energy address the paradox of abundant sustainable energy resources: these resources largely surpass Africa's current and prospective needs, but still remain untapped to the detriment of its economy and people. Out of the EUR 3.7 billion available for sustainable energy cooperation in 2014-2020, EUR 2.7 billion are allocated for Sub-Saharan Africa, supporting both on-grid and off-grid energy generation (through hydro, solar and other renewable technologies), infrastructure development and interconnections to increase regional integration, and specific projects to support the role and involvement of local authorities (Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa), private sector (like the recently launched ElectriFI initiative), women and vulnerable groups.

What has the EU's development work done for climate action?

The EU continues to make significant efforts to scale up support to climate-relevant action and to reach the target of committing at least 20% of its budget to climate actions. This would mean €14 billion between 2014 and 2020 for the development cooperation budget. This is an important contribution to the global target of developed countries to mobilise $100 billion per year by 2020 for climate action in developing countries (extended until 2025 by the Paris Agreement).

Climate change and development are inextricably linked: On the one hand, actions to address climate change can have major implications on development, and on the other hand, the achievement of global climate change objectives will depend on development decisions.

The 2015 climate change agreement should be seen in the broader context of promoting climate resilient and sustainable development in all countries. This calls for coherence between climate change and development policies, including between the climate agreement and the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The European Union (EU) places climate change at the heart of its external relations, including development cooperation, and actively supports multilateral negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The EU has long been committed to international efforts to tackle climate change and has set an example through robust policy-making at home. At European level the EU has set itself targets for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions progressively up to 2050. Key climate and energy targets are set in the 2020 climate and energy package and in the 2030 climate and energy framework.

In all aspects of its cooperation with developing partner countries, the EU takes into account of environmental and climate change considerations. The Commission supports its development partners in building and implementing policies for sustainable rural development, food security and nutrition, climate action, the protection of natural resources and the environment, the transition to a low carbon economy (including energy from renewable sources) and disaster risk reduction. Through a range of EU external aid instruments, the EU supports mainly the so-called Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in building livelihoods, communities and societies resilient to climate change.


What are examples of the EU's climate action and what positive effects have been achieved so far?

The European Union was able to achieve good results in regard to its development aid that concerns climate action, especially under the framework of the GCCA. Some examples:

The Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF) (Duration: 01/2011 to 11/2017)

The EU is assisting Bangladesh through the GCCA+ both to support national institutions in implementing the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan and to finance climate change adaptation, mitigation and disaster risk reduction measures. Among these measures are more than 60 new multi-purpose cyclone shelters, and community-based forestry to halt degradation and manage 10 areas of woodland more sustainably. These actions support human development goals, as well as increasing climate resilience in the communities concerned. In total, the GCCA has funded an amount of €4.25 million for this project.

Building the national capacity and knowledge on climate change resilient actions in Ethiopia (Duration: 01/2012 to 12/2016)

Launched in 2012, GCCA Ethiopia pilots climate-smart agriculture in 34 districts, helping farmers to both adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects. In much of Ethiopia, agriculture is central to life, with four out of every five Ethiopians working in the sector, but population pressure and climate change are putting a huge strain on the environment, affecting livelihoods and further exacerbating weather conditions. Through this €10 million project, 46 participatory forest users groups have been organized to manage 3,552 ha of previously degraded land, about 47 nursery sites have been established across the concerned regions to produce seedlings for the protection and conservation of natural resources in the targeted watersheds, and 22.15 million tree/shrub seedlings have been produced and planted.

Global Climate Change Alliance support programme to Tanzania (Duration: 01/2010 to 12/2013)

In Tanzania, the GCCA supported setting up of three eco-villages in three types of ecosystems (coastal zones and islands, drylands, and highlands) deemed particularly vulnerable to climate change. The project in Pemba Island implemented by the local NGO Community Forests Pemba (CFP) started as a tenacious "one-seed-at-a-time" replanting scheme on the Islet of Kokota but has evolved into an expanding programme of actions including educational films, infrastructure-building and knowledge-sharing among communities dotted across the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. In total, the GCCA has funded an amount of €2.2 million for this project.

Global Climate Change Alliance support programme to Timor Leste (Duration: 12/2013 to 12/2018)

The €4 million project aims to improve the capacity of populations living in selected sub-districts vulnerable to climate change risks to cope with climate change effects through the sustainable management of their natural resources and the improvement of their livelihood options, by using local development mechanisms and taking social inclusion and conflict management into account. Several achievements are already visible: the methodology for performing vulnerability assessments in Timor Leste was developed, and is now being implemented in one target area. Further, good practices in climate change adaptation in Timor-Leste are being assessed and documented. Finally, the project has also achieved a significant level of participation of women in all the activities.

What is the outlook for development cooperation for climate action for the future?

The EU has been at the forefront of international efforts towards achieving a global climate deal in Paris and is taking steps to implement its pledge to reduce emissions by at least 40% by 2030. The Paris Agreement in 2015 was a major milestone for global climate action and an opportunity for economic transformation, jobs and growth. With the 2030 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, it will shape the EU action in developing countries. Development and climate action are mutually reinforcing and integrating climate change and environmental issues into the EU development cooperation is a win-win option.

The multi-dimensional nature of the SDGs requires striking a balance between socio-economic progress and sustaining the planet's resources and ecosystems. The new EU external Investment Plan for Developing Countries is expected to lead to high-level political support to leverage private investment in sustainable energy, climate change and the green economy in line with the Paris and 2030 agendas.  

Private sector engagement in development processes lies at the heart of the European Union's development agenda, reflecting the enormous potential of the private sector as a driver of sustainable and inclusive economic growth, job creation and poverty reduction. This approach is in line with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), which promotes the use of innovative mechanisms and private sector partnerships to encourage greater international private financial participation in development, in support of Agenda 2030 and the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. And it is fundamental to reaching the $100 billion climate finance target.

The EU is determined to maintain the momentum and ensure implementation of the Paris Agreement. The EU support in the coming years will aim to provide financial and technical support for partner countries to operationalize their nationally determined contributions.

UN climate change conference in Marrakech - questions and answers

Source: European Commission