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 can cause loss and damage. 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.

See also
Logo: Global Shield against Climate Risks

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.

To this end, the G7 initiative for a Global Shield against Climate Risks emerged during Germany’s G7 Presidency in cooperation with the group of states most vulnerable to climate change (The Vulnerable Twenty (External link), V20). The Shield gathers activities in the field of climate risk finance and preparedness under one roof. As a result, people and authorities are able to access the assistance that they urgently need when disaster strikes more easily and more quickly.

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

A selection of climatic changes and their effects

A selection of climatic changes and their effects

A selection of 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. The adverse effects have already led to loss and damage for natural ecosystems and human societies. People living in low-lying coastal zones, in high mountain regions and in the Arctic are at particularly high risk. It is estimated that 3.3 to 3.6 billion people live under conditions that make them highly vulnerable to climate change. Vital sectors such as agriculture or small-scale fisheries 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 salinisation 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.

German activities Preventing climate-related disasters through integrated risk management

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

In the context of its international development policy engagement, Germany is campaigning for integrated 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 hazards (such as core meltdown 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 avert, minimise and, where necessary, cope with climate-related loss and damage.

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.

Video: Climate Risk Management – how can we respond?

Still from the video 'Climate Risk Management: How can we respond?'

Climate change is already causing extreme weather events and slow-onset changes. These include floods, heatwaves, drought and sea-level rise. All adaptation efforts notwithstanding, residual risks remain that can cause climate-related loss and damage to ecosystems and agriculture and jeopardise human lives and livelihoods. Germany’s development cooperation not only promotes strong mitigation policies, but also strives to meet the challenge by means of integrated climate risk management (External link). This approach helps to cope with the residual risks by deploying an array of effective and innovative tools and measures designed to avert, minimise and address losses and damages.

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.

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).

The WIM Executive Committee (ExCom) was established during the 19th Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw, Poland. Its aim is to promote approaches to avert, minimise 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, minimise existing disaster risk and promote post-disaster recovery.

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

Cooperation in action 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

Cooperation in action 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.

View of Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Cooperation in action Urban climate adaptation in Central America Internal link

Like its neighbours El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, Honduras is very much at the mercy of extreme weather events. Climate change is increasing the frequency and the intensity of hurricanes, heavy rainfall, floods and droughts. High levels of poverty, the particular nature of the landscape and unchecked urbanisation mean that Honduras and its people are especially vulnerable to these natural hazards.

BMZ publications

Cover Disaster risk management

Disaster risk management

Understanding risks, preventing disasters, strengthening resilience

File type PDF | Date of status 05/2022 | File size 4 MB, Pages 36 Pages | Accessibility Accessible

As at: 14/10/2022