Originally published by Melany Mejias on

By analyzing 25 years of data, the University of Notre Dame in Indiana developed a Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) that ranks 192 nations annually on their readiness to face a warming world. The index takes into account risks increased by climate change, including food insecurity, overcrowding, civil conflicts and poor infrastructure.

ND-GAIN reveals the most vulnerable and therefore least prepared countries to deal with climate change, as well as those which are in the best conditions to face a warming world.


In Burkina Faso, extreme droughts are killing off livestock and devastating crops. In Micronesia, rising water levels have spurred residents to dismantle ancient ruins for the construction of seawalls. And in the Western Region of Kenya, the aftermath of severe 2011 flooding continues to threaten the livelihoods of thousands. Credit: The Verge

Eritrea, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are the five nations least able to respond the severe effects of warmer temperatures, according to the index. And the most prepared countries are New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Britain, and Germany.

The index developed by the University of Notre Dame calculates countries’ exposure to climate stress. Reliance on agriculture serves as a good example of that. ND-GAIN also takes into account sensitivity to the impact of climate shocks and overall adaptive capacity. It then scores a nation’s preparedness by looking at its willingness to take action in order to improve its social, economic and governance resources to reduce climate risk.

Adaptation is a keyword. Nations must learn how to live in a warming world but the most vulnerable happen to be also the poorest, which means that they need urgent help from rich countries.

Financial help is not enough

One of the highlights of the Paris climate talks in December was that world leaders admitted that it would not be enough to tackle climate change by only reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They agreed to donate $100 billion a year by 2020 and the Green Climate Fund vowed to devote 50 percent of all its funding to adaptation.

However, money alone will not save the most vulnerable countries from calamities caused by their unpreparedness to face climate change. Climate security also requires “technical capacity to develop bankable proposals”, said Barbara Buchner of the Climate Policy Initiative in an emailed response, partially quoted by the Los Angeles Times.

She added that tackling the knowledge and capacity gaps was essential to reduce climate risk, as well as providing access to all kinds of resources needed to achieve adaptation.

Koko Warner of the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security said that world leaders need to find out how to increase “the absorptive capacity of countries that need the funding the most, and harmonize investment standards, transparency, and governance issues”.

The adjustments needed to efficiently provide help to countries that need it the most should happen quickly. Buchner warned that $100 billion would not be enough to truly cover the real costs on the ground and the climate bill could go higher if the Earth cannot keep below 2 degrees Celsius of global warming.

Farming community

While financial aid may help the most vulnerable countries adapt to global warming, that is not the main solution. The key is to accept change and be inspired by that belief to work against climate change. (Photo : Gabriel Mistral | Getty Images 

Originally published by Rina Marie Doctor on www.techtimes.comAlso published by Daniel McDonald on

Accepting that climate change is happening, and not merely relying on financial support from wealthy nations, is the key for poor countries to survive the effects of climate change, experts say.

Embracing that a different type of climate may alter the way of life could be the big motivating push that the most vulnerable nations need to be able to adapt and respond efficiently to the changing world.

While it is important to have lots of financial resources to support technologies and start projects to combat climate change, that is not the main solution. Surviving is not about the money, it is about having the willingness to fight climate change early on before things get worse.

Embracing Change, Especially Leaders

The University of Notre Dame has come up with a Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN), which sums up the vulnerability of nations to climate change and other global problems together with their preparedness to boost resilience. According to the index managers, adaptation is rooted in embracing change.

"Many countries are grappling with a hierarchy of needs that puts climate risk close to the bottom," says Joyce Coffee, the managing director of ND-GAIN. The most pronounced challenge in poor countries is to tackle poverty and its effects on things that matter the most, like health.

Coffee says this acceptance of change will not be realized within a nation unless the leaders do so themselves.

Coffee cites the situation of African nation Ivory Coast as an example. In the said country, cocoa is the main product for export. However, since the plants are very sensitive to temperature changes and takes years to grow, the industry is at the greatest risk of peril because of climate change.

Now, if the government will not help the farmers realize the changes, anticipate the effects and prepare for what is about to come, it will be difficult for those who have managed to get out of poverty to triumph over climate change.

Ivory Coast has made tremendous improvements in solidifying its foundation to help the nation manage climate-related risks. In fact, the nation has ranked better by nearly 20 points in the vulnerability and preparedness list of ND-GAIN involving 192 other countries.

Willingness Of The Wealthy To Help

During the December 2015 Paris conference, which was attended by numerous world leaders, wealthy countries agreed to give away $100 billion through the year 2020 to aid nations that have been identified by the United Nations as the least developed cope with climate change.

The money will be placed in the Green Climate Fund, which collates grants from different rich countries and private firms.

The United States even announced a much more ambitious pledge during that time as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the country is looking at doubling the $430 million it has given out in 2014 over the next four years.

But then again, while these financial aids are significantly beneficial, the most essential first step for efficient adaptation to climate change is acceptance.

Global Index Results

The ND-GAIN uses 25 years' worth of data to rank 192 nations every year on their readiness to tackle risks made more severe by climate change. The index specifically looks at factors such as food insecurity, insufficient infrastructure, overcrowding and civil clashes.

The top five countries considered to be the most vulnerable and least ready to handle climate change are Eritrea, Chad, the Central African Republic, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

On the other end of the spectrum, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Germany round up the top five least vulnerable nations. These nations ideally will support their neighbors in terms of finances.

Worthy to mention are the countries that have improved their rankings. These nations include the Philippines, Poland, Mongolia, Laos, Russia and the Solomon Islands, among others. These countries are said to have improved their sanitation, agricultural efficiency and availability of potable water, while reducing slum areas and childhood malnutrition.

Climate Change: Taking A Toll On Human Health

On April 4, the White House released a new report, which details what climate change means for public health and families.

The report explains the different health consequences that humans may have to suffer as climate continues to change. Among these health woes are allergies and asthma due to air pollution, premature deaths due to extreme heat, earlier occurrence of Lyme disease due to warm winters and spring, water-related medical conditions and increased exposure to toxins.


Originally published by Lonnie Shekhtman on

How will poor countries, in many cases the most vulnerable to climate change, respond and adapt to a changing world?

    That's one of the biggest questions lingering after the Paris climate agreement succeeded in mobilizing 195 nations around reducing their emissions to prevent a warmer world.

    According to a global index managed by the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, the five countries most vulnerable and least prepared to deal with climate change are Eritrea, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    Using 25 years of data, Notre Dame’s global adaptation index ranks 192 countries annually on their preparedness for risks exacerbated by climate change, such as overcrowding, food insecurity, inadequate infrastructure, and civil conflicts.

    One of the big accomplishments at December's Conference of Parties climate talksin Paris was getting wealthy nations to agree to provide $100 billion through 2020 to help the least developed countries, as defined by the United Nations, adapt to a changing climate. The money will flow through a Green Climate Fund, which is a combination of grants from wealthy countries, such as the United States (ranked #11), and investments from private companies.

    “We will not leave the most vulnerable nations among us to weather the storms alone,” US Secretary of State John Kerry told a packed news conference in Paris, after announcing that the US plans to double the $430 million in grants it gave out in 2014 over the next four years, to help vulnerable countries adapt to the risks of a changing climate, reported the Financial Times.

    Logistical stumbling blocks must still be worked out, such as ensuring that countries contribute the money they promised and that receiving countriesspend the money wisely.

    But the people behind the index say one of the keys for adapting to a new world for vulnerable countries is not about money at all; it’s about acknowledging that a different climate will change things.

    “Many countries are grappling with a hierarchy of needs that puts climate risk close to the bottom,” says Joyce Coffee, managing director of the index, in an interview with The Christian Science Monitor. The biggest needs in the least developed countries revolve around managing widespread poverty and its effects on things like health and corruption, she says.

    “While I believe very strongly that solutions to climate come from within a country,” she says, “they won’t come until leaders embrace the changes that are coming.”

    One example of where embracing change makes a difference, said Ms. Coffee, is in the west African country of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). Cocoa, its major export, is at great risk from climate change, since the plant is sensitive to temperature changes and takes years to grow.

    “If the federal government isn’t helping farmers see changes and anticipate and prepare for them,” she says, “they’re making it hard for those who have emerged from poverty to get a leg up in a climate change world.”

    Over the last five years, Cote d’Ivoire has made enormous headway in building a strong foundation to help the country deal with climate-related risks, according to the index. The country has climbed nearly 20 pointshigher in the vulnerability and preparedness rankings to #131 out of 192 countries.

    Other countries that have improved in the rankings are Laos, Georgia, The Philippines, Russia, Poland, Rwanda, Mongolia, Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. Researchers say they have each improved their economies and other basics necessary to deal with new challenges from a changing climate, which include increasing sanitation, agricultural capacity, and access to drinking water, while decreasing slum populations and child malnutrition.


    NASA climate change map

    The countries most vulnerable to climate change are among the poorest and least able to respond. How to resolve that dilemma and help these places adapt to a warming world remains among the knottiest problems facing climate financing.

    Originally published by Obi Anyadike on

    The good news is that identifying those most in need – step one – is now a good deal easier thanks to a global league table developed by the University of Notre Dame.

    The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) measures a country’s vulnerability in relation to its ability to cope with climate change.

    It calculates exposure to climate stress (for example a reliance on agriculture); sensitivity to the impact of climate shocks; and adaptive capacity. It then scores a country’s readiness – defining that in terms of a  willingness to leverage its economic, governance and social resources to reduce climate risk.

    According to the index, the world’s five worst performers are Eritrea, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. By comparison, the over-achievers – and you'd guess at least a couple of them – are New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Germany, in that order.

    Hooray for Paris

    One of the important outcomes of the Paris climate summit in December was the recognition that reducing greenhouse gasses is not enough. Adaptation – how to live with a warming world – is now also accepted as key, and there is a greater realisation that poorer countries will need support to help achieve that.

    Paris affirmed the financing target of $100 billion a year from public and private sources by 2020. A game-changer could also be the Green Climate Fund, which will devote 50 percent of all its funding to adaptation, which has historically been overshadowed by spending on mitigation projects like renewable energy.

    “Paris was wonderful, but what’s really important now is what happens on the ground,” said Koko Warner, of the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security. “The true yardstick of success is in these highly vulnerable countries.”

    Money alone will not be enough to build climate security. “The question of access [to financing] is not a simple answer as it concerns multiple challenges including technical capacity to develop bankable proposals, [tackle the] knowledge and capacity gaps, and provide access to resources needed to do the necessary feasibility studies,” Barbara Buchner of the Climate Policy Initiative said in an emailed response.

    “We need to find ways to increase the absorptive capacity of countries that need the funding the most, and harmonise investment standards, transparency and governance issues,” noted Warner. “We need more nuance on how to deliver financing to really help the poor, to unravel the knots around climate impact and livelihoods.”

    That needs to happen quickly, because the estimates are that the true climate bill will be in the trillions rather than billions of dollars – especially if the world cannot keep below two degrees Celsius of global warming agreed in Paris.

    “We know that public resources in all countries are stretched, and that $100 billion will not satisfy the needs on the ground,” said Buchner. “It is therefore essential that the $100 billion be spent wisely. If we can do this, much more private investment will flow.”

    Making money

    The ND-GAIN index is more than a ranking system. Its purpose is "to help businesses and the public sector better prioritise investments for a more efficient response to the immediate global challenges ahead,” explained Joyce Coffee, ND-GAIN managing director.

    "The private sector is looking for projects where it can make money," she added. "They won't be investing in countries with poor governance records, or social structures that are completely confusing to them." That, she suggested, will be left to multinational funding mechanisms like the Green Climate Fund.

    There is no reliable data on the scale of private investment flowing to adaptation projects. But, said Buchner, “private investment will be key” and therefore “domestic policy signals are critically important because all investors want to see impact, and value for money.”

    Improving the “bankability" of projects involves quantifying and enumerating risk, and allowing the market to track progress, said Coffee. The private sector won't suddenly pivot to adaptation, but we should make it "more tempting".

    A business case is easily made for the mega alternative energy initiatives – from solar to wind – sprouting across the globe. But adaptation tends to be more granular and local rather than immediately transformational.

    “Tons to learn”

    Warner acknowledges there is “tons to learn” – but if public policy managers can “set the incentives, the private sector will respond”.

    While corporates may well hesitate to invest in the most vulnerable countries, “it is important to remember that households and families [in these countries] are also private investors,” said Buchner.

    Developing projects that help them access affordable, clean energy and expand sustainable agriculture "can support economic development and poverty alleviation as well as climate change,” she added.

    There is a gulf between genuine, community-appropriate adaptation projects and private sector "green- washing" – good old-fashioned PR spin. Coffee cited a Coca-Cola initiative in an unnamed country to improve the water sources where it bottles as a positive example that had a benefit “beyond its fence line”.

    She also pointed to a mining firm investing in Mali that built a hospital as part of its adaptation efforts. Yes, improving healthcare is a form of adaptation, but she acknowledged a sense of queasiness over that particular deal – with its hint of contract sweetening.

    “But we can't turn our back on investments. We just need to demand more from [the corporates],” she insisted.

    Warner agreed, saying the magnitude of investment and the scale-up required to respond to climate change means there is a “significant role for the public and private sector – we just need to get the mix right”.

    Photo credit: Alberto Guzman, NASA ARC-CREST


    This chart by shows the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index by Country.

    The ND-GAIN Index is a navigation tool that helps corporate and development leaders manage risks exacerbated by climate change such as over-crowding, food insecurity, inadequate infrastructure and civil conflicts. The Index shows a country's level of vulnerability, and the readiness of a country to successfully implement adaptation solutions. The tool is free and open-source.

    The Index defines vulnerability as exposure and sensitivity to climate, population, infrastructure and resource stress, as well as the country's adaptive capacity to those stresses.The Index defines readiness by social, governance and economic factors.



    Professor Patrick Regan has been appointed the Associate Director of the University of Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative (ND-ECI) for ND-GAIN.


    In this new role, Regan will lead academic scholarship around ND-GAIN by amplifying faculty engagement in climate adaptation, identifying funding opportunities to enhance the University’s climate research capacity, directing scholarly output and products, as well as other responsibilities to promote the shared goals of ND-ECI and ND-GAIN.

    “The idea that human social adaptation reflects a potential intervention between the scarcities driven by climate change and the outcomes of those climate stressors provides new areas in which the social and the physical sciences interact to influence various outcomes from armed conflict to crop yields,” Regan said. “Working with ND-GAIN provides an opportunity to explore new ideas and help facilitate interactions across disciplines and colleges.”

    Regan is a Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. His primary research has focused on the role of external actors in managing armed conflict. He studies how interventions shape conflict, paying particular attention to the interaction between military interventions and diplomatic mediation in civil wars. Regan is also exploring the conditions under which water scarcity driven by climate changes influences the likelihood of observing armed conflict. A key part of this research involves the role of social adaptation to the climate stressors.

    He is the author of four books, The Politics of Global Climate Change (Paradigm, 2014), Sixteen Million One: Understanding Civil War (Paradigm, 2010), Civil Wars and Foreign Powers (Michigan, 2000), and Organizing Societies for War (Praeger, 1994). 

    Regan was most recently (fall 2015) a visiting scholar at China’s Sichuan University’s Center on Ecology, Environment and Sustainability and a Fulbright research fellow at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, Norway. He was also the 2013 president of the Peace Science Society.

    “We are thrilled to have Pat join ECI leadership through his new role at ND-GAIN and welcome him aboard,” said Jennifer Tank, ECI director. “It’s an exciting time as Pat’s research expertise brings added breadth to our scholarship around climate change.”

    Originally published by Larry Light on
    The path to good green intentions is strewn with obstacles that could waylay a $100 billion plan to help poorer countries fight climate change. These range from the adequacy of the fund's size to its secrecy-minded operations. And it's all part of a worldwide effort mandated by the Paris climate deal, whose overall cost could reach $16.5 trillion.
    Part of the climate accord struck over the weekend in Paris, the Green Climate Fund will subsidize the developing nations in adopting such steps as carbon-free power generation and protections against global warming-linked catastrophes like hurricanes and rising seas.
    Climate cleanup work is an expensive proposition. The total tab, focused on developed economies curbing their voluminous carbon emissions, is around $16.5 trillion, the International Energy Agency estimates. A switch from fossil fuels would entail a massive reordering of global energy production and delivery, moving toward renewable sources and greater energy efficiency, the agency said.
    Low-lying nations such as Zimbabwe and Madagascar are most at risk from major storms and escalating oceans. But according to the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index, they have the least financial ability to stave off environmental havoc. In fact, their carbon emissions are -- relative to major industrial powers like the U.S. and China -- minuscule, so they haven't contributed much to the problem.
    In a statement issued two weeks ago, Héla Cheikhrouhou, the fund's executive director, said the $100 billion kitty was dedicated to supporting the climate conference's "objective on climate change to keep temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius." He noted that its board already had approved a $168 million outlay for eight projects, including safeguarding Amazon River wetlands in South America and building hurricane shelters in Bangladesh.
    The fund did not respond to a request for comment about criticisms.
    Potential problems include:
    Insufficient money. A study by the London School of Economics concluded that the fund's intended size of $100 billion per year was far too small to get the job done. The LSE report recommended at least $400 billion, and found that a sum up to $2 trillion was more likely to be effective.
    Even scraping together the $100 billion might be tough. The Green Climate Fund has so far received pledges of around $10 billion, but actually has just $1 billion of that in hand, says Climate Central, an environmental study group.
    President Barack Obama has said the United States would chip in $3 billion, but the GOP-run Congress intends to scuttle that. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said: "Congress has never authorized funding the Green Climate Fund, and we cannot support providing taxpayer dollars to the fund."
    Meanwhile, potential aid recipients are disconcerted that the reference in the Paris climate pact was only in the document's preamble, thus not giving it adequate legal force to ensure it is enshrined in international policy.
    Waste. Among Republican lawmakers,there's a strong suspicion that the fund's money will end up frittered away or in the bank accounts of corrupt officials.
    Lending credence to the waste fears was the Bangladesh government's $3.1 million project to build "climate-resilient housing" along the nation's coast after a cyclone battered it. The watchdog agency Transparency International Bangladesh discovered that the homes had no walls. Why? The government wanted to stretch its budget and build more houses. Channeling Green Climate Fund largesse to boondoggles like Bangladesh's risks more of the same.
    Secrecy. The fund has drawn criticism for operating behind closed doors. Green groups were furious to learn last summer that Deutsche Bank was one of the financial institutions the fund tapped to distribute the money. It turns out the German bank is a big investor in the coal industry. (The bank issued a statement saying that it fully supports the objective of a "low-emission economy.")
    To be sure, in the wake of the Paris conclave, there is a lot of momentum behind the Green Climate Fund and international commitments to hold down greenhouse gas emissions. So some of the good intentions may end up actually coming to pass.
    Obama is hedging his bets on corralling the money needed for the Green Climate Fund by enlisting private financial sources. Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates recently declared he would invest $2 billion in technology to combat climate change. Gates wrote on his blog: "Given the scale of the challenge, we need to be exploring many different paths."
    Foreign Affairs Minister and President-designate of COP21 Laurent Fabius (2nd left) and French President François Hollande (center) hug after the adoption of a historic global warming pact at the COP21 Climate Conference in Le Bourget, north of Paris, Dec. 12, 2015. Now the question is whether the agreement will be enforced.
    Originally published Jess Mchugh on
    Attention Sunday turned to enforcement of the landmark environmental agreement approved by nearly 200 of the world's nation this weekend in France. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he was hopeful for the pact's implementation but acknowledged there was no mechanism to make sure nations meet the ambitious accord's goals.
    The deal, which culminated two weeks of negotiations, aims to limit global warming by setting a temperature cap of 2 degrees Celsius change, with an aim for 1.5 degrees change, which is to be met through a worldwide shift away from fossil fuels and toward more renewable sources of energy. The long-term goal is to move away almost entirely from fossil fuels in the next 50 years. Each of the 195 countries that signed the agreement will need to have it approved by their respective governments for the terms to be made law.
    Kerry called the pact a "breakaway agreement" that will reshape the discussion surrounding climate change. "The business community of the entire world is receiving a message of countries now moving toward clean, alternative, renewable energy and trying to reduce their carbon footprint," Kerry said during an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday, adding, "That is going to spur massive investment."
    Activists and representatives from governments alike have been critical over how the agreement will be enforced. Kerry and others noted that the agreement is essentially a set of at-will promises made by each country with no singular authority responsible for holding them accountable or making sure they are fulfilled.
    The last climate summit took place in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009 and did not result in any lasting agreement. Talks broke down toward the end of the summit and few long-term changes were implemented in the participating countries. Critics of the Paris summit were skeptical in particular the U.S. would follow through on its promises to cut emissions, especially if a climate change doubter is elected president in 2016.
    All of the Republican candidates in the race have said they do not approve of cutting carbon emissions, and representatives from other countries said they fear the U.S. political atmosphere could jeopardize the success of the deal. “You cannot bank on the Americans to follow through,” Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, a South African diplomat and a negotiator at the climate talks, told the Wall Street Journal Sunday.
    Other experts in the field were cautiously hopeful, noting though the pact was at-will, the desire for change during the Paris summit was greater than at any prior talks. "These climate talks differed substantially from the prior ones because they gave audience to resilience,” said Joyce Coffee, managing director of the global adaptation index ND-GAIN in a statement. 
    “Not only was the first-ever resilience day held as an official part of the two-week conference, but the final agreement includes the word adaptation more frequently than the word mitigation,” Coffee said.

    Newswise — As Paris climate talks enter the final frenzied hours, Joyce Coffee, managing director of the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN), points out that business is neglected in the agreement. She says…

    “In the 28 page draft, the private sector is mentioned 11 times, mostly as it relates to access to capital. And while carbon pricing is mentioned a few times, along with euphemisms for international emissions trading, the document is likely to remain silent on the word ‘market’ through its finalization.”

    On the other hand, good progress on both national commitments and an international agreement is being made.

    “Although the most zealous climate mitigators continue to call for a 1.5 degree Celsius target (versus the two degree target that COP21 ostensibly called for), this may not be in climate mitigators best interest,” says Coffee.

    “A ‘not bad’ – or the two degree target – outcome will be less likely to die upon return to each national government. Thus, ironically, those who want to kill the Paris Agreement may also be want this ambitious outcome, which would no doubt die upon return to Washington, New Delhi and other climate-agreement tenuous capitals.”

    ND-GAIN is the world’s leading global adaptation index and aims to unlock global adaptation solutions that save lives and improve livelihoods while strengthening market positions in the private sector and policy decisions in the public sector. Measuring not only vulnerability but also the readiness to take on investment, it informs strategic, operational and reputational decisions regarding supply chains, capital projects and community engagements. The index includes 20 years of data across 46 indicators for 180 countries.

    Originally published by Napoleon Navarro at

    Cambodian students climb up to their school from a boat at a flooded village in Kandal province in October 2009.

    Cambodian students climb up to their school from a boat at a flooded village in Kandal province in October 2009. AFP
    As COP21 comes to a close, it would be best to remember that tackling climate change won’t happen overnight. It will be a long road ahead and the Paris conference should serve as a roadmap for longer term climate action.
    It will not be an easy road. Dealing with the consequences of climate change and contributing towards a global solution poses a challenge to a developing country like Cambodia.
    Poised to cross the threshold to middle income country (MIC) status and aiming to become an upper MIC by 2030, Cambodia is still among the most vulnerable countries in the world to the consequences of climate change.
    Because of extreme weather events (floods and droughts), rising average temperatures, rainfall variability and seawater intrusion, climate change remains one of the most significant threats to poverty eradication and economic growth in Cambodia. That current pledges to cut carbon emissions will not keep temperatures rising beyond 2 degrees Celsius does not help.
    Building resilience will be critical. While overall poverty stands at 13.5 per cent, most Cambodians have incomes just above the poverty line.
    Given the dominance of low value-added sectors and informal enterprises, vulnerable employment is still prevalent. Despite the gains in garments, construction, and tourism, Cambodia is still an agricultural economy.
    With only a small share of farms operating on a commercial basis, most farmers engage in subsistence farming, and augment incomes through migration. Research has shown that subsistence farmers are most vulnerable and least able to cope with droughts, floods and environmental degradation.
    The impact is particularly acute for women, who make up a large number of the poor communities that depend on natural resources for their livelihood.
    These sources of vulnerability could potentially reverse the gains, or at least make it more difficult to sustain its vision of becoming an upper MIC. Without public action, projections show that climate change could reduce annual economic growth by as much as 1.5 per cent by 2030, and 3.5 per cent by 2050.
    To these ends, the government has identified a range of interventions that include strengthening the adaptive capacity of communities, restoring the natural ecosystems, strengthening early warning systems, etc.
    The independent Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) has shown that despite Cambodia’s vulnerability, the country’s level of readiness to adapt has steadily improved since 1995.
    Through its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC), Cambodia has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by as much as 27 per cent by 2030, by investing in climate-smart solutions in the energy sector, manufacturing industries, transport and other sectors.
    Moreover, the government has committed itself to stemming deforestation through the National Forest Programme and the REDD+ under the Forestry Administration.
    The initiative of the Ministry of Environment (MoE) establishing an overarching set of legal principles that encourage sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems across government is also a step in the right direction.
    One challenge is that the investments in adaptation and mitigation will require money. In place is a pledge of $100 billion a year from developed countries.
    However, according to the 2014 Adaptation Gap Report of the UN Environmental Programme, annual adaptation costs alone could climb as high as $150 billion by 2025/2030 and $250-500 billion by 2050, at the global level. Cambodia alone will require some $1.27 billion until 2018, and spending on adaption could go up as high as 3.3 per cent of GDP between now and 2050.
    Notwithstanding the importance of external climate financing for Cambodia, most climate investments will have to come from government sources and from non-climate external assistance. Climate change response will necessarily have to be mainstreamed into the public budget and existing loan programs, and augmented with private sector-based innovative finance.
    This has led to UNDP support the government’s Climate Change Financing Framework, which includes a climate public expenditure review, the costing of the climate change response, and financing scenarios.
    As to the mainstreaming of climate change financing into the national budget, the National Council for Sustainable Development has been working with the Ministry of Economy and Finance and different ministries on how public investment and loan programs could be made more climate responsive.
    But more than money, over the long term, building resilience requires the transformation of the Cambodian society and economy itself. Reducing vulnerability requires more than social protection and public services: it calls for the expansion of decent employment and better paying jobs, by taking advantage of regional higher value-added manufacturing and agricultural value chains.
    Taking advantage of the climate change funding, it also means putting Cambodia on a more sustainable pathway and avoiding the costly “lock-in” effects of dependence on carbon-based energy systems.
    Because of its current stage of development, Cambodia can leapfrog to more resource and energy-efficient infrastructure, by setting building codes and standards for energy-efficient buildings and consumer appliances, pursuing mass public transport solutions, and promoting decentralised energy systems built on renewables.
    Dealing with the consequences of climate change and contributing towards a global solution may pose a daunting challenge to a developing country like Cambodia.
    Speaking to world leaders at the opening of COP21, His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni had this to say: “But we have the evidence, we have the solutions, and we know it is possible to simultaneously address climate change and put our societies on a sustainable path.
    So we cannot and we should not pass the buck further. The decisions are here today, for us to make.”
    Napoleon Navarro is senior policy adviser to the United Nations Development Programme in Cambodia. In this capacity, Mr Navarro heads the Policy Team of UNDP Cambodia.