change aid is inherently political. The Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG)
and the Climate and Environment Programme (CEP) put their heads
together to analyse three case studies to show what can happen when aid
is given with little regard for politics. Their report serves
as a warning that, particularly where countries are in conflict,
climate aid (just like any other aid) may do more harm than good.
At the event to launch the HPG and CEP paper, the experts on the panel came from different backgrounds, which made for a
lively discussion as they were grilled by the chair, the independent
journalist Tom Heap. Katie Peters of ODI’s Climate and Environment Programme found that much of the discussion on climate change and conflict is stagnant.
It has been dominated by academics trying to find statistical links
between temperature change and conflict. She pointed out that in the UK
we wouldn’t try to find a link between the 2011 London riots and
rainfall or temperature changes.
discussed the need for climate change aid (and indeed all aid) to be
less techno-centric and more politically aware. Ignoring power and
politics, and just throwing money at issues without understanding the
problem is a recipe for disaster in aid projects, said Simon Levine of
ODI’s Humanitarian Policy Group. "You wouldn't want a doctor to treat
you with a medicine simply because the money was available to pay for
that treatment, without trying to work out what your health problem was
first. I am not sending my kids to that doctor, but we send our planet
to that doctor," he said.
Organisations tend to default to technological fixes (or as Tom Tanner from IDS described, "climate change adaptation by ribbon cutting") as they’re tangible – and, noted Laurie Goering of
AlertNet, from the media perspective they’re easier to write about.
Laurie also urged researchers to simplify their language because space
restrictions and the need to communicate ideas to the public mean that
otherwise the journalists have to simplify it for them.
links between climate change and conflict (and the effect of climate
change on world security), culture of silos in the aid world, UNFCC and
the post-2015 agenda, the meaning of resilience (including a song!) and
fear of risk taking in aid organisations were also hotly debated. To
relive the event in all its glory, watch the recording or read what
others thought about it on AlertNet’s write up.