Flooded roads and paths in Gonaives, Haiti, after hurricane Tomas passed through the area

Climate change and development Analysing and managing climate risks

Everywhere in the world, people, ecosystems and infrastructures are increasingly exposed to disaster and climate risks. That is why the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) puts an emphasis in its work on a preparedness-based approach for dealing with different risks. It is the only way that lasting sustainable development can be achieved in the BMZ’s partner countries. 

The impacts of climate change can already be clearly felt and are threatening the livelihoods of millions of people. Extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods and heavy rainfall are becoming more frequent and even more extreme as a result of climate change. According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), between 1998 and 2017, damage due to climate change cost at least 1.9 trillion euros worldwide, whilst more than 553,000 people lost their lives through extreme weather events.

Developing countries and emerging economies are particularly hard hit by these impacts of climate change and are also least prepared to cope with them. As a consequence, climate change is reversing development gains and thwarting opportunities for development in the future.

That is why it is important to develop, implement and continuously adjust methods and measures for assessing and, above all, managing climate risks. 

Preparedness-based approach to climate risks Early detection, effective reduction 

Climatic changes and their effects

Climatic changes and their effects

Climatic changes and their effects

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (External link) (IPCC) predicts that the impacts of climate change are set to become stronger even if global warming is kept to 1.5 degrees Celsius. People living in low-lying coastal zones, in high mountain regions and in the Arctic are at particularly high risk. Vital sectors such as agriculture or small-scale fishing are increasingly under threat. Not only is climate change causing extreme events to become more frequent and more intensive, it is also producing slow-onset environmental changes like rising sea levels, groundwater salination or increasing desertification. Valuable habitats and farmland are shrinking as a result and people and development are under threat worldwide.  

The only way these threats can be addressed effectively is by starting with a risk assessment adapted to the specific local context. Building on this, suitable methods and targets for reducing and managing the risks must be selected. Both steps should also take into account consequences such as an impact on education or loss of biodiversity. In addition, the focus should not just be put on individual climate risks.

A comprehensive approach is required in order to strengthen the resilience of especially vulnerable segments of the population, the private sector and local authorities. This approach needs to also take account of other risks (for instance health- and conflict-related risks). A comprehensive risk management process that combines different strategies and instruments covering everything from risk analysis to coping with residual risks gives actors who are threatened by climate change increased coping and adaptation capacities vis-à-vis various risks. Even though it is not possible to fully avert threats, such an approach can contribute to increased resilience overall and help prevent extreme events from turning into disasters.

Infographics: Preparedness approach to climate risks

Infographics: Preparedness approach to climate risks

Infographics: Preparedness approach to climate risks

German activities Preventing climate-related disasters through comprehensive risk management

In the context of its international development policy engagement, Germany is campaigning for comprehensive risk management worldwide. This comprehensive approach combines strategies and measures aimed at reducing disaster and climate risks. It contributes to addressing the increasing impacts of climate change. But it also takes other extreme events such as biological threats (for instance epidemics in the aftermath of flooding) or industrial threats (such as core melt down after a tsunami) into account.

The aim is to protect people’s lives, reduce economic and ecological damage and safeguard livelihoods in the face of a range of threats. Efficiently combining various instruments to deal with these risks is intended to safeguard the basis for sustainable development. It is crucially important to integrate different stakeholders and affected and vulnerable groups in decision-making processes so as to generate acceptance for the implementation of measures, create and foster awareness, and reduce climate-related losses and damage.

Ships on shore near the world's largest mangrove forest (Sundarbans) near the town of Mongla, in the southwest of Bangladesh

Ships on shore near the world's largest mangrove forest (Sundarbans) near the town of Mongla, in the southwest of Bangladesh

Ships on shore near the world's largest mangrove forest (Sundarbans) near the town of Mongla, in the southwest of Bangladesh

Adaptation measures and preparedness

A comprehensive risk management approach uses a wide range of instruments, which vary according to the different contexts. They include preventive (adaptation) measures (for instance early warning systems, afforestation of mangroves, etc.), transitional assistance (for instance disbursements from climate risk insurance, humanitarian assistance) and also climate- and disaster-resilient recovery. The BMZ supports partner countries with capacity building and advisory services for planning processes, for instance for national adaptation planning, NAP. One key aim is to help decision-makers in the public and the private sector to achieve greater climate resilience and plan for the future.

The climate risk management process

Integrated climate risk management cycle

Integrated climate risk management cycle

Integrated climate risk management cycle

Climate risk management is an approach which looks specifically at climate risks as part of a comprehensive risk management strategy; the risks range from extreme weather events such as storms and floods to slow-onset environmental changes such as increasing sea levels and desertification. 

1. Analysis and assessment of climate risks Internal link

Climate risk management is based on comprehensive and continuous risk assessments. Identifying risks (risk analysis) and then assessing the scale of their impact lays the foundation for prioritising actions that need to be taken and identifying options that cover as many of the risks as possible.

2. Measures implemented for integrated climate risk management Internal link

Integrated climate risk management comprises a wide range of measures and instruments that can be combined wisely and effectively to suit a specific context. This includes preventive measures, such as the introduction of adapted, risk-sensitive building regulations and land use regulations, and traditional adaptation strategies, such as better seeds and different farming techniques.

3. Decision-making and implementation Internal link

Decision-makers from the public and the private sector look at the integrated climate risk management measures identified and consider the related costs. They are then in a better position to prioritise, finance and implement them. The BMZ supports these efforts through various capacity building measures and an exchange between experts.

International cooperation

In addition to being engaged in partner countries and regions, Germany is also involved in international processes.

Warsaw Mechanism

Eröffnung der Klimakonferenz COP19 in Warschau, 2013

Opening of the climate conference COP19 in Warsaw, 2013

Opening of the climate conference COP19 in Warsaw, 2013

The BMZ is a founding member of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage Associated with Climate Change Impacts (External link) (WIM) and was on its executive committee (ExCom) up until 2019.

The WIM ExCom was established during the 19th global climate conference in Warsaw, Poland. Its aim is to promote approaches to avert, minimize and address loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change in a "comprehensive, integrated and coherent manner". The BMZ supports in particular the Technical Expert Group on Comprehensive Risk Management and advocates for better cooperation in order to improve the resilience of vulnerable groups and countries to climate change. 

Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction

The BMZ also supports the implementation of the Sendai-Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (External link). It does this both at the political level and by means of disaster risk management projects implemented as part of its long-term development cooperation. The aim of the Framework is to avert disasters and minimise existing disaster risk.

NAP Global Network

At the climate conference in Cancún in 2010, the parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change also agreed on the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process. Its aim is to identify medium- and long-term adaptation needs so as to make countries and their populations less vulnerable to climate change. Under the NAP process, countries incorporate the issue of adaptation into their national development plans. Often, however, they do not have the necessary structures or know-how to actually implement these adaptation plans.

That is why the BMZ is supporting the NAP Global Network (External link) which coordinates support and facilitates international peer learning and exchange. Many countries have now developed National Adaptation Plans and have in some cases begun implementing them.

A fisherman off the island of Bunaken

Climate change in the Pacific island region Internal link

Most inhabitants of island states in the Pacific region live in the coastal zones of their native small islands, which are often only a few metres above sea level. These people also depend to a large degree on natural resources. This makes them especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as extreme weather events and rising sea levels.

Measures for adapting agriculture to climate change in the Lake Chad basin

Climate change adaptation in the Lake Chad basin Internal link

Chad is vulnerable to drought and flooding, resulting in food insecurity. An unstable security situation, state fragility and poor infrastructure also make it harder for the country to distribute and use the scarce resources actually available. This is aggravating the potential for conflict.

View of Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Städtische Klima­anpassung in Zentral­amerika Internal link

Honduras ist, wie seine Nachbarländer El Salvador, Guatemala und Nicaragua, extremen Wetterereignissen erheblich ausgesetzt. Der Klimawandel verschärft die Häufigkeit und Stärke von Wirbelstürmen, Starkregen, Überschwemmungen und Dürren. Die hohe Armutsrate, die Besonderheiten der Landschaft sowie eine unkontrollierte Urbanisierung machen das Land und seine Bevölkerung besonders verwundbar gegenüber diesen Naturgefahren.