It is generally accepted that the world’s poorest countries are among the most vulnerable to climate change. These countries need finance to respond to climate change and to support development that is sustainable in a changing climate. So far they have had major challenges accessing significant levels of funding from the new dedicated climate funds.

A commitment to scale up productive safety nets, backed by a commitment to fund this in part by reimbursing external debt service could provide one part of the solution to the recognised need to scale up support for effective adaptation and resilience measures in low income countries.

It would also provide a means by which to channel substantial resources for large scale programmes to the poorest and most vulnerable countries, building on ongoing efforts to strengthen social protection systems, potentially leveraging existing domestic capacity rather than requiring substantial new capacity to develop complex climate change adaptation project proposals.

A reimbursement approach could ensure accountability for implementation, informed by encouraging new practices in the new aid architecture (e.g. USAID’s FARA instrument).

By linking a new mechanism of funding to an important use of funds targeting the most vulnerable, such an initiative could make a significant contribution to the global response to climate change.

[Adapted from author conclusions]

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