Climate change has reached the top of the international agenda even while debates about its causes, consequences, timing, trajectory and remedies continue. This opinion piece argues that there are two primary problems which plague ongoing discussions about climate change:
discussions tend to run in parallel, with experts talking past one another, and many not listening to those outside their own disciplines
discussions about how to address climate change at local levels are often devoid of politics.
The paper argues that discussion about the socio-economic threats posed by climate change must include the sort of analysis used to design aid interventions in conflict-ridden and particularly difficult to developing countries. The paper highlights four key lessons learned in the past decade or so by development specialists:
fragile states: climate change discussions need to be placed in the context of fragile states recognising that they function differently from other countries. It is important to understand why these states have trouble absorbing and using aid effectively
understanding informal governance: decision-making around the use of state resources in many poorly performing states is driven by informal relations and private incentives rather than formal state institutions. Studies should be undertaken to further understand such power dynamics
effecting social change: underdevelopment is often linked to long-term collective-action problems, where societies are incapable of working together to address issues that affect their wellbeing and hinder progress
aid delivery: recent changes in aid delivery in order to promote aid effectiveness must also shape aid intended to combat climate change.
The paper concludes that aid specialists need to design methods of delivering aid to climate change-affected states that avoid the shortcomings of existing development assistance. Only then will climate change interventions have a chance of being successful.