Climate change and development

Beach in the town of Elmina in Ghana

Background: Climate change – time to act

"Climate action is gathering momentum not just because it is a necessity but also because it presents an opportunity – to forge a peaceful and sustainable future on a healthy planet. (...) It is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do," as António Guterres put it, who has been UN Secretary-General since the beginning of 2017. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) likewise warns that any delay in taking action to protect the climate will restrict future options and drive up costs. But the global transformation towards climate-friendly and climate-resilient development is making progress. In 2015, the international community created a political framework for our related actions by adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. more

New climate action partnership

The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are at the heart of the Paris climate agreement. In these NDCs, participating countries specify their emissions reduction and adaptation targets for the period up to 2030. The NDCs will be reviewed and updated every five years, starting in 2020. Now it is vital to see to it that they are implemented swiftly and that they are made more ambitious. To that end, the NDCs have to be translated into concrete policy approaches, sets of rules and regulations, public budgets and investment plans. In order to assist developing countries in implementing the NDCs, the BMZ, the German Environment Ministry, the Moroccan government and the World Resources Institute (WRI) initiated a global NDC Partnership in 2016. By September 2017, the number of its members had grown to 70. more

Energy and climate

The sectors of climate and energy are closely interrelated. The energy goal of the 2030 Agenda (SDG 7) envisages ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. This is a prerequisite for sustainable development and poverty reduction. While meeting the energy needs of households, public institutions and enterprises, it is crucial at the same time to limit global warming on a long-term basis. This means a low-carbon energy sector, that is, an energy sector that causes as little carbon dioxide emissions as possible. This will require a massive increase in the share of renewable energy in the energy mix, more investment in energy efficiency and far-reaching decarbonisation. more

Migration and climate

Extreme weather events caused or compounded by climate change, such as storms, flooding and droughts, are turning into a sudden and direct threat to the livelihoods of many people. Developing countries that are particularly affected by climate change are faced with the challenge of averting or reducing the direct consequences of climate change, despite a lack of resources and capacity to do so. The negative consequences of climate change and the related deterioration of people's living conditions force many people to move – often from rural to urban areas – or to respond to the situation through (temporary) migration. The factors and criteria that influence a person's decision to migrate are as complex as the consequences of climate change themselves. more

Cities and climate

Towns and cities drive global warming. They are already responsible for about 75 per cent of energy and resource consumption and energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. By 2050, more than two billion more people than today will be living in cities. Thus, it is clear that global climate targets will only be achieved if sustainability is put at the heart of urban development. This is particularly true with regard to urban transport and infrastructure. However, cities are not only drivers of climate change but also victims of it. Sustainable urban planning, investment in resilient infrastructure and also measures such as the provision of urban green spaces can make a great difference. They can significantly mitigate the impact of climate change in urban settings. more

Water and climate

Water is essential for people, animals and plants to be able to live, and for every kind of societal and economic development. Yet water in particular is an area where the consequences of climate change are immediately evident – increasingly frequent heavy rainfall is leading to disastrous floods, and water scarcity is leading to drought crises. Already, around four billion people are liable to experience water shortages for at least one month a year. According to estimates, the demand for water is likely to grow by 40 per cent between now and 2030, thereby increasing the pressure on water resources. At the same time, countries like Viet Nam and Bangladesh, parts of Central America and Asia, and other regions around the world are having to deal more and more often with flooding as a result of heavy rainfall. Advancing climate change will further intensify these challenges, because climate forecasts predict that, in many places, adverse weather events like droughts and heavy rainfall will become both more frequent and more extreme. more

Agriculture and climate

Agriculture and climate change are connected in two ways. On the one hand, rural areas are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change: when water becomes more scarce, when devastating rainfall becomes more frequent or when crops fail to flourish under changed climatic conditions, this has major repercussions on harvests and yields. On the other hand, agriculture is itself a source of greenhouse gas emissions – for example when forest is cleared for conversion to farmland. However, agriculture can also contribute to climate action. Land- and water-related measures that help conserve resources, such as specific agroforestry practices and improved irrigation and drainage of farmland, can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and foster the adaptation of the agricultural sector to climate change. more

Forests and climate

Forests are veritable treasure troves of nature. They provide food, water, raw materials for building and other purposes, fuel and medicinal plants – as well as living space for more than 1.6 billion people. They are also home to a very large proportion of known animal and plant species. The "lungs of the world", as forests are sometimes known, produce oxygen, bind harmful carbon dioxide and thus have a major influence on the world's climate. They store water and help regulate temperature and rainfall. In short, forests are vital to the survival of the human race. more

Oceans and climate

The world's oceans cover more than 70 per cent of the surface area of our planet. They are a key component of the global ecosystem. Without them, life on Earth would not be possible in its present form. In particular, oceans play an important role in regulating the global climate. They produce huge amounts of oxygen, and they absorb a considerable amount of the carbon dioxide emissions that human beings produce. Global climate change is putting a strain on the marine ecosystem. The warming and acidification of the oceans as a result of climate change is seriously affecting sensitive ecosystems like coral reefs. Moreover, the rise in sea levels and the increased frequency of extreme weather events pose a serious threat to coasts and people living in coastal regions. more

Climate risk management

Natural disasters and extreme weather events are growing dramatically in frequency and intensity. Coupled with the emerging changes in the world's climate, they are causing massive damage every year. It is estimated that climate-related damage has quadrupled since 1992. In 2015, economic losses related to natural disasters alone came to an estimated 92 billion US dollars. On average, annual damage is more than 300 billion US dollars. Comprehensive climate risk management aims to reduce these losses. It combines measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, preventive measures for tackling climate-related or disaster-related risks through disaster risk management, and climate change adaptation measures. Climate risk insurance helps to buffer financial risks. more

Climate risk insurance

Climate change has an influence on the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events worldwide. Developing and emerging economies are particularly exposed, because the climatic changes are threatening to undo development progress. Even good risk analyses and preventive measures cannot completely avert damage caused by extreme weather events. Thus, comprehensive climate risk management also means developing strategies for coping with risks – such as the loss of livestock or damage to homes – that may become more common as a result of climate change. Climate risk insurance is one tool that can help people cope with the consequences of extreme weather events. more

Climate finance

Climate change is already posing a threat to the development of the world's poorest countries and will be making it far more difficult to achieve progress in the future. Climate action and development policy are thus inextricably linked. Assistance for developing and emerging economies with regard to financing measures for climate change mitigation and adaptation is an important part of Germany's development cooperation. more

Further information

The following list is a selection of links to documents und websites containing further information on the topic of climate action in development cooperation. more

BMZ glossary

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