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Uniting theory and action: Asia Pacific Economics of Climate Change Adaptation programme relaunches

Herders in Must Soum, Mongolia © Eskender Debebe / UNDP Mongolia

June 2017, Bangkok - Asia Pacific Economics of Climate Change Adaptation programme relaunches in partnership with the Asian Institute of Technology

With the first rollout a great success, the Economics of Climate Change Adaptation (ECCA) regional training programme will relaunch this month, providing continued insights, training, resources and tools for 10 countries in the Asia and Pacific region.

The ECCA Programme was first launched in October 2012 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with USAID, Yale University, the Asian Development Bank and Global Water Partnership. The three-year capacity-building programme was conceived with the aim of enhancing the technical know-how of governments to formulate economically efficient development plans, inform climate smart policies and build strong National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).

With an eye on long-term sustainability, the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) will take the reins this month, and continue to work directly with government partners and UNDP to grow the region’s knowledge-base regarding the costs, benefits, risk management tools, agricultural inputs and economic indicators for climate change adaptation in the region.

The ECCA Programme will continue its work in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. While geographically diverse, among these countries are Least Developed Countries that require strengthened capacity and improved institutional effectiveness in order to reach global goals framed through global accords such as the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.

Across Asia and the Pacific, the impacts of climate change are already taking a toll. Increasing temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, rising sea levels and extreme weather events are heightening risks, taking lives, undoing progress toward development goals, and hurting already vulnerable people. Poor rural people, who are often dependent on rain-fed agriculture, are particularly exposed.

Sustainable development, economic progress, food security and disaster resilience are inextricably linked with climate change. With this in mind, it is critical that governments across the region are equipped to effectively conduct cost-benefit analysis of climate change actions to ensure that these actions are integrated in national development planning.

To support this, the programme offers regional training courses, exchange trips, and one-on-one mentoring for government officials. Key is bringing together representatives from diverse ministries, such as agriculture, finance, disaster risk and planning, as well as other stakeholders and connecting them with new ideas and new resources to build more effective plans and more effective institutions from the ground up.

Building momentum

The first rollout of the programme was a great success. At its close in late 2015, officials and technical officers from ten countries had taken part, increasing their knowledge of the economics of climate change adaptation and using this new knowledge and institutional capacity to inform government decision-making, including for the formulation of Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement and effective and integrated National Adaptation Plans.

“The ECCA Programme broadened our views on how to consider the economics of climate change in our adaptation efforts. The additional tools, methods and techniques are an important extra dimension to our decision-making, and a support to better utilize the minimal resources at hand,” said Ajwad Musthafa, Permanent Secretary of the Maldives’ Ministry of Environment and Energy. “The most useful aspect of the programme was the in-country exercises. Working closely with a visiting expert from the national team enabled us to touch the very finer details needed for assessment, and enhanced officials’ knowledge how to tackle various issues.”

“The ECCA programme has immensely benefited government officials here in the Maldives by expanding their knowledge of economic tools, including conducting cost-benefit analyses. We have been able to apply that knowledge to successfully access international funds, such as the Green Climate Fund”.

In Bangladesh, Dr Sultan Ahmed said the research study produced out of the ECCA Programme was instructive in reviewing and revising the country’s agriculture and water policies. “The study found warming and changing rainfall patterns will become increasingly harmful for farmers. An increase in temperature of one degree Celsius would result in a loss of US$273 per acre for irrigated farms (69% of their income given an average earning of US$394).

“The study supported that adaptation options for farmers in Bangladesh are strengthened national extension services, irrigation infrastructure in the dry zone of the country and the introduction of new cultivation techniques.”

Looking to the future

With ongoing demand for enhanced training in the economics of climate change adaptation, two regional training courses are planned in a partnership with AIT for August 2017 and February 2018 in Thailand. UNDP will provide guidance and will lead the first training, with AIT taking the lead onwards.

The call for applications has attracted strong interest, with more than 280 candidates from across the region for the 25 available seats.

“We are excited to be taking this important programme forward. AIT assists governments across Asia and the Pacific to develop their National Adaptation Plans – the ECCA programme will complement this work by providing useful tools for economic valuation and budgeting of adaptation action,” said Alla Metelitsa, Head of the Climate Change Cluster at AIT. “AIT will build on the learning materials to strengthen its role in the development of a cadre of professionals who can prepare solid economic analyses related to climate change adaptation projects.”

The material developed through the first phase is planned to be integrated into a regular graduate course offering at AIT. AIT also plans to open a summer school for both local and overseas students.

Meanwhile, UNDP has launched new partnerships with the Climate Policy Lab (CPL) at the Fletcher School, Tufts University, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO); and the Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy Research in Africa (CEEPA), University of Pretoria. The goal of these new partnerships, along with the second phase of the ECCA programme, is to utilize the data that was collected through the ECCA programme in order to generate knowledge products and research papers.


An online portal hosts country-level reports by participants – examining vulnerabilities to climate change and the impacts on agriculture sectors – and the results of research gathered as part of the coursework – including questionnaires of farming households in agricultural practices. The datasets and research reports form a public knowledge resource, accessible by researchers and governments in other countries. Please visit UNDP’s Adaptation Portal here.

For more information on the second phase on the programme, please contact Dr. Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Head of Climate Change Adaptation team in the Global Environmental Finance Unit at UNDP or Ms. Mari Tomova, Technical Specialist on Climate Change Adaptation in the Global Environmental Finance Unit at UNDP.

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