UNDP Support for Climate Change Adaptation

Remarks by Haoliang Xu, Management Response at the First Regular Session of UNDP Executive Board Evaluation Session - UNDP Support for Climate Change Adaptation.

February 2, 2021

Excellency Ambassador,
Distinguished Members of the Executive Board and Member States

On behalf of UNDP management, I would like to thank Director Oscar Garcia and his team at the Independent Evaluation Office for its evaluation on UNDP’s support to climate change adaptation.

UNDP welcomes the evaluation and notes the important findings where it can draw lessons as we move forward towards the next Strategic Plan.    

I am pleased to present you with UNDP’s management response on the evaluation – in the interests of time, I will not go into all the details.  

UNDP support for Climate Change Adaptation

The UNDP portfolio, with over 1.2 billion in projects, has directly increased livelihood resilience for more than 19 million people, brought over 873,000 ha of agricultural land under resilient practices, enhanced food security for over 6.3 million people, improved access to drinking water for 2.3 million people, protected over 16,000 km of coastline (including $1 billion worth of infrastructure assets); protected over 45,800 ha of marine area; and improved access to early warnings for over 13 million people.

Since 2008, UNDP has supported 75 countries in integrating adaptation into development policy, planning and investments and supports enhanced adaptation targets and priorities through countries’ Nationally determined contributions (NDC).

Reflection of evaluation findings

UNDP welcomes the key conclusions from the evaluation that speak to UNDP’s extensive support and valued contribution to supporting vulnerable countries in building their resilience and adapting to climate change and appreciates the recommendations for strengthening its approach.
[Recommendation 1: UNDP needs to accelerate its attention to mainstreaming consideration of climate risks across its entire development portfolio].

UNDP accepts 1 recommendation acknowledging that climate risk-screening is important to be applied to assess climate exposure and design strategies to mitigate risks.

Within the adaptation offer, UNDP has applied rigorous analysis of climate risks and climate assessment and climate-risk screening are essential parts of the updated Social and Environmental Standards (SES), effective, January 1st 2021.

Building on this, we will:

  • Include additional guidance on Climate Assessment and climate-risk screening in the updated SES Toolkit; and;
  • Build a cadre of experts on the SES climate change and disaster risk standard in the regional hubs

[Recommendation 2: UNDP should establish a system for tracking all investments that have significant climate change objectives, ensuring these are provided with appropriate technical support, oversight and visibility as part of UNDP’s adaptation portfolio and as a basis for strengthening internal collboration.]

UNDP accepts recommendation 2, noting that in 2020, UNDP conducted a mapping of ongoing projects in the adaptation portfolio and incorporated this data in the internal monitoring tool for portfolio analytics and lessons learning.

Building on this and its project marker system, UNDP will:

  • Introduce a mechanism to track ongoing and pipeline projects with significant climate change objectives to enable the provision of coordinated technical support and oversight

[Recommendation 3: UNDP should take steps to reduce fragmentation across its climate change adaptation programming, to more effectively achieve intended benefits at scale.]

UNDP accepts recommendation 3, noting it is important to clarify that the issue is not that there is fragmentation of offer or expertise; rather that UNDP’s investment in its adaptation offer has primarily been sustained by VF financing. UNDP has been working to advance adaptation strategies and solutions across countries and communities, irrespective of the funding sources.

UNDP’s adaptation offer is also evolving to support transformative, high impact, at-scale programming by countries and communities.

To further these efforts, UNDP will:  

  • Develop regional and programmatic approaches for integrated solutions on adaptation
  • Consolidate and communicate its adaptation offers in key domains (including agriculture food, water, and ecosystems)

[Recommendation 4: UNDP should improve the technical underpinnings of its adaptation service offer in each sector, with special attention given to strengthening capacities in disaster risk reduction.]

UNDP partially accepts recommendation 4.  

UNDP fully recognizes the complementarities and potential for synergies across the climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction domains.  

To further ongoing efforts, UNDP will:

  • Articulate a Resilient Recovery offer under which will integrate green and adaptive considerations.
    Design joint programming and normative guidance for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation projects
  • Design programmatic investments for agriculture/food security in collaboration with other partners, including UN system agencies

[Recommendation 5: UNDP should expand its adaptation support in small island developing states.]

UNDP accepts recommendation 5 and recognizes the special challenges of SIDS and alongside the real potential to turn the most pressing challenges into opportunities alongside SIDS’ collective commitment towards transformational change and global action.

Through its SIDs offer UNDP will expand its support through the design and implementation of at least 5 adaptation projects by mobilizing public and private sector finance.

[Recommendation 6: UNDP should establish clear priorities for private sector engagement on climate change adaptation.]

UNDP accepts recommendation 6 noting that it has been steadily increasing private sector engagement in adaptation.

UNDP is developing a structured approach for engaging the private sector in climate change adaptation and will strengthen its work by:

  • Refining the climate change adaptation strategy for private sector engagement
  • Scaling up support to promote enterprise development; and
  • Developing risk finance and insurance as part of an expanded adaptation engagement with the private sector

[Recommendation 7: UNDP should strengthen the gender equality dimensions of its policy and capacity related support in adaptation-related programming.]

UNDP accepts 7 recommendation and notes that it has made strong progress and built solid results in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment through its adaptation-related programming and will continue to strengthen efforts through:

  • Refining gender-responsive approaches to UNDP’s adaptation policy and programming;
  • Increasing visibility and promote the use of gender, climate change and adaptation methodologies and tools

[Recommendation 8: To better coordinate across an increasingly complex portfolio of environment projects, including for climate change, UNDP should take steps to upgrade its information management system and avoid running separate/ parallel information systems for specific programme portfolios.]

  • UNDP partially accepts recommendation 8.   As UNDP is migrating the existing Atlas system to a new ERP cloud system, UNDP will take the opportunity to further align data points between the new ERP and its dedicated systems for aspects of vertical fund management, PIMS+, and explore opportunities for further integration.

UNDP will also introduce a small number of indicators in the results framework for the Strategic Plan 2022-2025 to capture its climate change adaptation work.

UNDP’s forward-looking climate change adaptation support.  

In conclusion, building from its strong track record and demonstrated success UNDP’s forward-looking adaptation strategy will:

  • Drive a diverse geographic and thematic focus. 
  • Focus on integrated solutions and nexus areas to advance development action through climate action,  including disaster risk reduction and adaptation and cross-cutting solutions across mitigation and adaptation, for example, along with new emerging themes in adaptation around health, urban resilience, insurance and climate security.
  • Expand its engagement with a wide range of partners, including multilateral development banks, national development banks, private sector entities, United Nations organizations and academia.
  • Design more multi-country programmes for countries with similar climate risks and adaptation needs, helping countries address systematic barriers to adaptive action, beyond the national context, to increase impact;
  • Continue to build on its contribution to advancing global dialogue and commitments to adaptation; and
  • Continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic to building back better.

Thank you.