FEATURE: Making climate compatible development happen


Fiona Nunan draws out key lessons from her edited book ‘Making Climate Compatible Development Happen’, published with Routledge and the Climate and Development Knowledge Network.

Climate change presents significant challenges for developing countries and so it is widely recognised that efforts to address and cope with climate change should be integrated into development policy and practice. Numerous concepts and approaches have been developed to capture this integration, with ‘climate compatible development’ being one of them.

Climate compatible development is synonymous with CDKN, which has promoted and investigated the potential for the concept through research and technical advice. ‘Making Climate Compatible Development Happen’ is an edited volume that brings together research on how to achieve climate compatible development in a range of countries and contexts, including renewable energy, agriculture, coastal areas and pastoralism. The aim of the book is to identify lessons for progressing towards climate compatible development.

What is ‘climate compatible development’?

Climate compatible development has been defined by CDKN as ‘development that minimises the harm caused by climate impacts, while maximising the many human development opportunities presented by a low emissions, more resilient, future’ (Mitchell and Maxwell, 2010: 1). Climate compatible development aims to capture the ‘sweet spot’ where development, mitigation and adaption aims are achieved simultaneously. The first chapter of the book interrogates each of these three components to understand what climate compatible development implies. It concludes that climate compatible development should:

  1. Encourage action and processes that are transformative. ‘Development as usual’ needs to be challenged, with alternative pathways to development available that deliver on sustainable and equitable change that enables adaptation whilst also reducing emissions and/or enhancing carbon sinks.
  2. Take into account the political context of situations at multiple levels. For climate compatible development to be transformative, existing power structures may be challenged. Understanding of power structures and interests is essential to inform the design and implementation of measures to progress towards climate compatible development.
  3. Take an integrated approach to climate change and development that is sustainable and just. The integrated nature of climate compatible development is essential for addressing entrenched inequalities that exist between and within countries that all too often mean that it is the poor who bear the burden of the impacts of climate change.

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