OECD Ministerial Council Meeting
Paris, 4 June 2008
I appreciate the opportunity of briefly addressing this Meeting of the OECD Council at Ministerial Level on the topic of climate change and development co-operation.
It is now well understood that climate change poses a serious challenge to social and economic development. Developing countries are particularly vulnerable, especially because, compared with richer countries, their economies are generally more dependent on climate sensitive natural resources -- and because they are more limited in their ability to cope with the impacts of climate change.
Climate change adaptation is thus not just an environmental agenda, but a development agenda, which must be integrated into “normal” development planning. Clearly, donors want to be sure that the future investments they support, notably in long-lived infrastructure facilities and networks, are resilient to the impacts of climate change. They certainly wish to avoid wrong-headed development choices that can actually increase vulnerabilities, an impact that we refer to as “maladaptation”. Regardless of the financing source, developing countries’ long-term national and sectoral development plans and national poverty reduction strategies must take account of projected, future climate conditions in order to minimize negative impacts of climate change and, wherever possible, to take advantage of any positive impacts.
At their High Level Meeting here at the OECD on the 21st May, Ministers and Heads of Development Co-operation Agencies underlined the central role of development co-operation in adaptation to climate change and vulnerability. They adopted a Statement of Progress on Integrating Climate Change into Development Co-operation, which you will take note of. And they asked me specifically to convey to you the key messages from their discussions.
First, two OECD Committees, the Environment Policy Committee and the Development Assistance Committee are jointly developing ground breaking Guidance on the integration of climate change adaptation into development co-operation. This work responds to the joint Ministerial mandate from 2006 and to the needs of policy makers and practitioners, working in various fields, in both donor and partner countries. The High Level Meeting appreciated the work accomplished so far and the fact that the Guidance is fully in line with the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. This means that developing country ownership is paramount and donors are in a supporting role. Helping to provide sustainable capacity development must be an essential part of our support to partners. The High Level Meeting asked us to keep up the momentum in preparing the Guidance so that it can be made available as the climate negotiations progress. They asked us to support -- but not interfere in -- these negotiations. They also emphasised the need for greater policy coherence between OECD country development co-operation and environment policies.
Second, Ministers discussed financing issues. They recognized the importance of ODA in financing climate change adaptation and mitigation, especially in the short term. However, the overall funding requirements are so great – as great as ODA volumes -- that new and innovative financing sources have to be found, including funds to be mobilised through the private sector. They warned, however, against creating and multiplying vertical funds because of the enormous burden on partner countries of managing such funds -- and because of the fragmented and inconsistent effects that such uncoordinated funds may create. This is another aspect of coherence in the aid system that we need to be careful about.
Third, the Ministers emphasized that climate change adaptation and mitigation are linked and both should be supported by aid. Once again, donor support must always be based on developing country national and sectoral plans in accordance with donor and partner collective commitments under the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.
Madame Chair, the High Level Meeting also asked us to hold open the possibility of a second joint Environment and Development Ministerial Meeting in 2009, depending on developments over the coming months on this critical agenda. I wish you fruitful deliberations today on the economic aspects of climate change and hope that you will bear in mind, during your discussions, the inextricable links between climate change and development co-operation.