Budgeting for climate change and disaster | Ajay Chhibber

13 Dec 2012

Fishermen in India

It’s the extreme weather season in much of the world. Deadly cyclones, blinding rains, ensuing floods and mudslides are becoming the norm from the Philippines to Haiti to Pakistan. Storms and floods are sweeping across the globe with increased regularity and ferocity. Recovery costs are high.

How can countries find funds today to build “climate resilient” roads, bridges, schools and other vital infrastructure to prevent losses tomorrow?  

One answer is of course in more international finance under the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. This means that developed countries should take the lead in combating climate change and its adverse effects. They are more likely to have the technical and economic capacity to address climate change, whereas developing countries may not.

But another part of the answer can be found when developing countries take a look at how climate change is reflected in their own national budgets and expenditures. While the debates continue internationally about who should cover the costs of reducing carbon emissions or adapting to climate risks, developing countries themselves are also responding to climate change by examining more closely their own domestic resources from their own existing budgets.

In simple terms, this means looking through the national budget to identify where climate change is already influencing allocations. For example, how much is being allocated to strengthen infrastructure so it is resilient to increased flooding? Or spent to adapt agricultural extension services to help poor communities in areas with increased risk of drought?  

With a better understanding of exactly how much and where existing national budgetary resources are going on climate change, more informed choices can be made about how and where to channel additional resources that are needed, or how to realign funds that are already being spent.

By building more climate resilient infrastructure today, countries can save money in the long run.  

This is not only a matter of new funds changing hands, but also a matter of realigning existing funds, of new ideas changing old ways, and ultimately, of investing today for a safer tomorrow.

Talk to us: How is money being spent in your country now to deal with future climate challenges?

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