Climate change, disaster risk reduction and desertification

Climate change, disaster risk reduction and desertification

Climate change, disaster risk reduction and desertification


Climate change is happening now; it already affects communities around the globe. Unless it is tackled, it could undermine the world's efforts for development.

The EU is a strong international supporter of sustainable development. To address climate change challenges in this context, it backs a wide variety of activities dealing with issues such as adaptation, mitigation, disaster risk reduction and desertification.

The impacts of climate change are already apparent around the globe, across sectors, population groups and countries. Climate change adds a further layer of complexity and challenges to development, jeopardising the achievements of earlier efforts and placing further communities and areas at risk.

The poorest and most vulnerable populations and countries will be hit hardest and will have least resources to cope with climate change impacts, e.g. reduced freshwater availability, accelerated desertification and increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events. Their livelihoods and economies will be disproportionately affected, as these frequently rely on natural resources dependent sectors such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Further, the lack of financial resources, technical skills, adequate technology and effective institutions may  limit these countries’ capacity to adapt or to engage in low-emission development and the green economy.

Adapting to climate change and shifting towards low-emission growth require novel and sustainable economic paths, and therefore a rethinking of development strategies. The climate challenge must be integrated into national development plans and strategies. Coping with current climate variability and attempting to anticipate future climate changes is no longer an optional extra, but a policy imperative.

The EU is a strong international advocate of sustainable development and decision-making that takes full account of environmental and social aspects. The European Commission has ratified all the major multilateral environmental agreements, including the conventions on desertification and climate change. It backs action to address climate change as well as initiatives in two related areas: the fight against desertification and the reduction of disaster risks.

These key areas for Community development cooperation are specified in the European Consensus on Development. The Agenda for Change, issued in 2011, takes stock of the most recent evolutions in development cooperation and also recognises climate change as one of the global challenges increasing the vulnerability of developing countries and for which more action is needed.

The European Commission finances development cooperation in the area of climate change in a number of ways.

For the period 2007-13, the EU's development cooperation supporting the fight against climate change and desertification as well as disaster risk reduction is financed through two types of instruments:

  • The implementation of the policy at national and regional level is supported by geographical instruments. These mechanisms include the European Development Fund (in the ACP countries), the Development Cooperation Instrument (in Asia, Latin America and South Africa, and the European Neighbourhood & Partnership Instrument (in the EU’s neighbouring regions).
  • A specific thematic programme on environment and sustainable management of natural resources, including energy (ENRTP) addresses issues that are not priorities under the geographical instruments as well as a number of issues of common interest to groups of countries that do not belong to a single region.

Further financial support is provided through other aid modalities, notably in the form of budget support.


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