International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Objective of this Guidance

Climate change is now an inescapable reality. Human activity is leading to ever-increasing levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and steadily compromising the natural resources base needed to maintain the health of the planet. The Fifth Report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was just released, made this point as clear as ever.  Without a secure natural environment, sustainable development is jeopardized. The climate change crisis has the potential to reverse development gains already made and block achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) if it is not adequately addressed. Climate change has been recognized as a significant driver (or root cause) of a number of transboundary problems in international waters. Changes in biodiversity, loss of ecosystems, negative impacts on marine resources such as coral reefs and fisheries, eutrophication, introduction of invasive species into fragile and “unprepared” marine environments are all manifestations of what climate change, to a greater or lesser extent, may bring both today and into the future.

The GEF Secretariat identified, within GEF-5 operational phase, “climate variability and change” as additional priorities for IW projects, and as those that require adequate mainstreaming within all projects. Following that strategic orientation, this guidance responds to the need to provide projects with information on:

  • A summary of the main topics to be considered at key stages (inception, implementation and closure) of project execution relating to climate variability and change;
  • Highlighting specific issues that GEF IW projects should be focusing on to 'mainstream' climate issues within their activities, including: monitoring and evaluation (M&E), environmental monitoring, TDA/SAP, use of scenarios on climate change and impacts, etc.
  • The main issues likely to be affecting specific marine environment types (coastal zones and transitional waters, large marine ecosystems, open oceans);
  • The main sources of information relating to climate change (a 'guide to the guides'), recognizing that there is a multiplicity of policy and technical guidance that is available;

This guidance links closely with issues highlighted within the TDA/SAP and Project Management Manuals and references and links are made to these sources of information where appropriate.

Some definitions of mainstreaming climate change

The most widely used and referenced definition of mainstreaming is one put forward by Klein, R. et al from Tyndall Centre which stated that "Mainstreaming involves the integration of policies and measures that address climate change into development planning and ongoing sectoral decision-making, so as to ensure the long-term sustainability of investments as well as to reduce the sensitivity of development activities to both today’s and tomorrow’s climate... Mainstreaming entails making more efficient and effective use of financial and human resources rather than designing, implementing and managing climate policy separately from ongoing activities.      (Ref.Doc.57)

The UNDP – UNEP Poverty – Environment Initiative (PEI) has defined mainstreaming climate change adaptation as "...the iterative process of integrating considerations of climate change adaptation into policy-making, budgeting, implementation and monitoring processes at national, sector and sub-national levels. It is a multi-year, multi-stakeholder effort grounded in the contribution of climate change adaptation to human well-being, pro-poor economic growth, and achievement of the MDGs. It entails working with a range of government and non-governmental actors, and other actors in the development field." (Ref.Doc.55)

Institute of Development Studies (IDS) states that "...mainstreaming implies that awareness of climate impacts and associated measures to address these impacts, are integrated into the existing and future policies and plans of developing countries, as well as multilateral institutions, donor agencies and NGOs." (Ref.Doc. 46)

Lebel, L. et al. from Adaptation Knowledge Platform and SEI say that “...mainstreaming” entails the integration of adaptation to climate change into development planning...can also be a form of cross-sectoral policy integration (Ref.Doc.49)

Two organizations introduce the element of risk in the concept of mainstreaming. Thus, SPREP, UNDP and GEF state "Climate change mainstreaming is about integrating climate risks into development planning processes and decision-making. This means incorporating climate risk considerations into every aspect of the policy and project development process." (Ref.Doc.52), while CARE states that "Mainstreaming climate change adaptation describes a process of considering climate risks to development projects, and of adjusting project activities and approaches to address these risks...can therefore ensure that development programs and policies are not at odds with climate risks both now and in the future." (Ref.Doc.47)

One definition brought about by a government (Prime Minister of Finland Office) stresses the importance of the climate policy, namely "The mainstreaming of climate policy, i.e. the process by which climate policy is rooted and implemented more systematically than before in the various fields of administration and policy may be of assistance in a major challenge for change." (Ref.Doc.56)

UNDP and USAID give the most straightforward definition of mainstreaming. It is "... the integration of climate concerns and adaptation responses into relevant policies, plans, programs, and projects at the national, sub-national, and local scales.” (Ref.Doc.58Ref.Doc. 36)

Practical, “how to” guidance for integrating climate change adaptation into development projects

The document includes simple checklists to ensure that development activities don’t increase people’s vulnerability to climate change. It provides guidance and recommended tools for all stages of the project cycle, as well as tools, resources and practical examples from CARE projects around the world. Water resource management and agriculture projects are specifically highlighted, as they were targeted in the early tests of the Toolkit. 

This interactive Toolkit is designed to be flexible. Users can tailor the process to meet their needs, priorities and available resources. The Toolkit is designed to facilitate the integration of climate change adaptation into development projects. It is organized around the following, simplified stages in the project cycle: analysis, design and implementation. Information & knowledge management, including monitoring and evaluation, is treated as an ongoing function, which is integrated into each of these stages. For each stage in the project cycle, key issues are identified and step-by-step guidance is provided, as are recommended support tools and resources. Case studies and examples from field-testing the Toolkit on CARE projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America demonstrate how it can be used in practice.

CARE: Toolkit for Integrating Climate Change Adaptation into Development Projects (Ref. Doc. 32)

A guidebook for development planners on adaptation to climate variability and change

The document presents the six- step approach for assessing vulnerability and identifying and implementing climate change adaptations (V&A approach), which follows a developmental path parallel to the more general project cycle. STEP 1 is to screen for vulnerability that involves screening a current or proposed project design to determine if it might be affected by climate variability or climate change. STEP 2 is to identify adaptation options for modifying the project in response to vulnerabilities identified by step 1. STEP 3 is to conduct analysis, implementing partners, stakeholders and experts to evaluate each of the adaptation options. The purpose of STEP 4 is to use the results from Step 3 to select one or more adaptations to be implemented with assistance form the project or program. STEP 5 is to implement adaptations and STEP 6 is to evaluate adaptations.

USAID: Adapting to Climate Variability and Change: A Guidance Manual for Development Planners, 2007 (Ref. Doc. 35)