MANILA, PHILIPPINES (11 October 2021) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) should take a stronger leadership role on climate action in Asia and the Pacific, a region which is both a high contributor to global greenhouse gas accumulation and a casualty of the impacts of climate change and weather-related calamities, says a report released by ADB’s Independent Evaluation Department (IED).

The report, which comes during the weeks leading to the COP 26 United Nations Climate Change Conference, found that ADB’s support to developing member countries (DMCs) on climate mitigation and adaptation from 2011 to 2020 has been relevant in its intent and that institutional ambitions have increased, but noted that ADB is not fully leveraging its potential to play a stronger leadership role in the region.  

The effects of climate change have been severe for countries in the region, which have the highest estimated disaster risk levels in the world. In 2015, 195 countries committed to make changes intended to limit global warming below 2°C higher than the pre-industrial era to avoid a climate catastrophe.

Multilateral development banks, including ADB, have committed to support the Paris Agreement but are faced with challenges associated to the increased pace of emissions and serious global financing gaps.

“ADB has strongly supported its DMCs by doubling its climate finance since 2015 and this support has led to significant gains on mitigation, but results have been limited on adaptation,” said ADB Director General for Independent Evaluation Marvin Taylor-Dormond. “Going forward given the current depth of the climate change crisis, a sense of urgency and commitment is demanded, ADB’s corporate ambitions should rise, and at the country level, country partnership strategies and associated programming should be guided by rigorous country-specific climate change diagnostics with the paths of engagement and expected results on both mitigation and adaptation clearly specified.”

During 2011–2020, ADB approved $40 billion for climate finance, of which 78% went to support mitigation and 22% for adaptation. The biggest share of ADB’s climate finance went to South Asia and the least to the Pacific.

ADB’s climate investments have resulted in mitigation efforts with demonstrable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and associated co-benefits. Results were more limited for adaptation and related financial targets have not been met.

ADB’s strategic approach for climate change mitigation and adaptation has followed a long evolution and has strengthened over the evaluation period. However, its institutional systems, processes, and capacities are not sufficiently well-articulated to enable it to respond to the increasing challenges that the region faces, as well as to the expectations of the international frameworks for contributions from this region to global climate targets.

“ADB needs a coordinated climate action framework, improved guidelines on climate accounting and risk assessment, and private sector engagement to meet its commitments,” said IED Director Nathan Subramaniam. “It should clarify the climate objectives of Strategy 2030 and develop a Board-endorsed climate action framework.”

The review recommends ADB to increase focus on climate outcomes, strengthen the climate relevance of project designs, clarify climate finance and greenhouse gas accounting, improve climate risk and adaptation assessment methodologies, enhance its monitoring of climate actions and outcomes, and take stock of its approach for the use of social cost of carbon.

It also recommends ADB to leverage its financial resources to scale up climate action in the region and to provide enhanced assistance to its DMCs for policy development and capacity building to support the delivery of climate outcomes.

About Independent Evaluation at ADB

ADB's Independent Evaluation, reporting to the Board of Directors through the Development Effectiveness Committee, contributes to development effectiveness by providing feedback on ADB's policies, strategies, operations, and special concerns in Asia and the Pacific.

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