Post-2015 political agendas, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), all build on goals to enable the sustainable development by increasing resilience, building adaptive capacity and reducing vulnerabilities, offering great potential for alignment. In addition to climate action as a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG13), 12 out of 17 SDGs directly imply the need to address the impacts of climate change. Urgent and ambitious climate action is essential to achieve sustainable development and prevent climate change from threatening the gains made.
It is therefore important to capitalize and improve synergies between political agendas and post-2015 dialogues to benefit from resources and capture the co-benefits between sustainable development and action and adaptation to climate change.
In this context, Climate Risk Management (CRM) offers entry points for synergizing sustainable development and climate risk management. DRM is a comprehensive framework for managing the impacts of climate change across the full spectrum of hazards, from short-term extreme weather events to long-term gradual changes, which trigger risk. The approach is promoted by German development cooperation as it combines a smart mix of innovative and proven instruments of climate change mitigation, adaptation and disaster risk management. However, little work has been done on the potential and actual contributions of existing CRM strategies and measures to achieving the 2030 Agenda, or how these synergies can be enhanced in practice, from national to local level.
This discussion paper is certainly not the first to consider the coherence between climate action and sustainable development, or specifically CRM and the objectives of the 2030 Agenda. Yet, drawing on the existing literature, the surveys and available project information, it attempts to better understand how a comprehensive CRM can positively contribute to specific SDGs, adding value to ongoing discussions by examining existing and potential synergies between CRM metrics and the SDGs.
As risks are compounded by unsustainable development leading to increased exposure and vulnerability, all SDGs contribute to efforts to build resilience. Beyond this, CRM as a holistic framework (even if only partially implemented) can contribute to the achievement of selected SDGs. CRM measures that have shown synergies with several SDGs include risk transfer mechanisms such as social protection and climate risk insurance, ecosystem-based adaptation measures, capacity development strategies and awareness, and planning/management approaches.
The CRM framework presented and developed by the Global Risk Assessment and Management Program for Climate Change Adaptation (Loss and Damage) allows consideration of a number of aspects highlighted in this discussion paper.
Central reflections derived from this article include:
A combination of measures and approaches is recommended to avoid, minimize and address residual climate risks while contributing to sustainable development. Approaches that simultaneously address the root causes of vulnerability and complement conventional adaptation (eg with approaches to diversify livelihoods or transformative adaptation) are being developed and piloted. The CRM framework presented strives to assess each context holistically and identify the most appropriate approach which may include consideration of co-benefits and synergies.
The positive synergies between CRM measures and the SDGs are most effective when guided by the principle of “leaving no one behind” and people-centered approaches. As recognized by the GIZ CRM Framework, knowledge exchange between involved actors, science and communities is an essential step to reduce misinformation and build acceptance as well as effectiveness. It was designed to help the most vulnerable cope with the severe impacts of climate change.
The integration of CRM in current and future processes has potential to formalize the exploitation of synergies with the SDGs. The processes and plans that form the entry points include Nationally Determined Contributions, National Adaptation Plans as well as Disaster Risk Management Plans. Climate risk assessments could serve as the basis for integrating climate risks into relevant processes and policies at national and subnational levels.
For the design of an approach, a pre-analysis of potential unintended impacts and trade-offs is paramount. This is also the case when integrating CRM with an SDG to avoid impeding impacts. Frameworks to holistically understand positive synergies as well as potential trade-offs remain to be developed.
In summary, this discussion paper identifies multiple synergies between CRM and the SDGs that will be further investigated. While CRM aims to foster a holistic understanding and consideration of the past and future impacts of climate change across all relevant sectors as well as the needs and opportunities to manage potential loss and damage, sustainable development itself contributes build climate resilience. Integrated with national objectives and goals that target the SDGs, CRM strategies can thus contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.