Why should there be local climate change adaptation plans in every village and town in the country?

September 26, 2023

The team of local and national public servants who have been trained on how to develope climate change adaptation plans, May 2023.

More and more localities are interested in having climate change adaptation plans. Floods, droughts, excessive heat waves, in addition to the material damage they cause, also have a negative impact on agriculture, food security and, ultimately, on people's health. The local public authorities interested in the development of the plans are guided in this process by the experts of the UNDP Moldova project "Advancing Moldova’s national climate change adaptation planning", financed by the Green Climate Fund. 

Thunderstorms, hailstorms, dry winters—these weather events have become the rule rather than the exception in recent years. Environmentalists argue that these weather trends are unlikely to "tame" due to climate change. The only solution that experts see is adaptation to these changes. 

Located not an hour away from the capital, the village Floreni in Anenii Noi district tends, lately, to be in step with the times when it comes to adaptation to climate change. Village farmers are encouraged to focus on drought-resistant crops, villagers are encouraged to use water wisely to irrigate gardens, and local authorities have taken seriously the possibility of developing and adopting a climate change adaptation plan.

Recently, 26 local and national civil servants were trained on how to develop climate change adaptation plans. They found out how the effects of drought can be mitigated, how residents can contribute to minimizing the negative impact of climate change and why town halls should invest in the process of adaptation to these changes. Among the civil servants trained by UNDP Moldova is Angela Mocanu, from Floreni village, Anenii Noi district. She says that in recent years the village administration has been watching the consequences of climate change with concern and is seriously considering the need for an adaptation plan.

"From the information assimilated during the training, I realized that the village of Floreni needs a local plan for adaptation to climate change, including for reducing potential losses and attracting funding projects. The biggest impediment to the realization of such a plan is that it requires professional expertise, based on real data and involves certain costs. We are counting on the support of UNDP Moldova for advisory and informative support in the realization of such a project," says Angela Mocanu.

The team of the UNDP Moldova project "Advancing Moldova’s national climate change adaptation planning", financed by the Green Climate Fund, aims to support the town halls in the country to adopt public policies, taking into account the adaptation measures to climate change. Why would the town halls in the country be interested in having such a plan? Such a document would allow them, first of all, to attract energy efficiency projects in the localities. It also represents a guarantee that future generations will have the chance to live in a green and healthy environment, explains Ioana Creitaru, a specialist in risk reduction within the UNDP Crisis Bureau.

Ioana Creitaru, specialist in risk reduction within the UNDP Geneva Crisis Office, May 2023.

"It is essential that local public authorities are equipped with the knowledge, skills and financial resources to enable them to create and implement local development measures to increase the resilience of communities and citizens. Civic engagement is also necessary for the long-term success of these measures,” says Ioana Creitaru. “The integration of risk-reduction measures requires a dual approach. On the one hand, it is necessary to plan and finance dedicated measures, such as flood protection through specific land-use planning. On the other hand, risk-reduction considerations need to be integrated into sector-level planning, for example, taking into account weather forecasts in water resources use planning measures. These measures will promote good preparation and an adequate response in case risks materialize in crisis situations, as well as prevention and anticipation of risks before they materialize," said Ioana Creitaru.

What are the main difficulties and challenges that the localities in the Republic of Moldova encounter in managing the impact of disasters, including those caused by climate change? In the opinion of Stas Ghilețchi, national consultant in the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, resilience is not yet perceived as an intersectoral topic that should involve a large number of actors and stakeholders. Most of the time, the interventions of the authorities are carried out ad hoc, without an evaluation process of public policies at the local level. In addition, the lack of a systematic mechanism for analyzing public investments does not allow the identification, prioritization and financing of activities aimed at improving resilience.

“Resilience, whether at the national or local level, cannot be improved by just a few actions. Resilience is the cumulative result of multiple and diverse interventions. But, in the short term, as a priority for local public authorities, I would like to see a change of the governance model at the level of each local public authority. This means transforming the way in which public policies are planned, developed, approved, implemented, monitored and evaluated. Quantifying the impact and estimating the benefits of different interventions will allow the selection of the best solutions to strengthen resilience. Consolidating the public policy-making process will also generate visible results in terms of public investments, the interventions that contribute the most to strengthen the resilience of local communities being prioritized," said Stas Ghilețchi.

In order to reduce the negative effects of climate change, the authorities of the Republic of Moldova, with the support of UNDP Moldova and the Green Climate Fund, recently developed the National Programme for Adaptation to Climate Change and the Action Plan for its implementation. The programme sets objectives aimed at increasing the climate resilience of six essential sectors—agriculture, health, transport, energy, water and the forestry sector—and is accompanied by an action plan to prevent and overcome the risks and vulnerabilities caused by climate change. The Republic of Moldova is one of the most vulnerable countries in Europe to climate change, being especially prone to floods and droughts.