Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management
ADB is prioritizing climate and disaster resilience, alongside low-carbon development, in response to the growing threats facing Asia and the Pacific.
Noelle O'Brien, Director of ADB's Climate Change, Resilience, and Environment Cluster, discusses climate change and disaster risk management challenges in developing Asia and how ADB is helping through financing and knowledge sharing.
Based on ADB’s 2021 Development Effectiveness Review, the portion of ADB operations supporting climate change mitigation and/or adaptation stood at 56% in 2019-2021. Latest projections from its work program and budget show ADB will have around 65% of its operations supporting climate action by 2023. ADB continues to increase its operations supporting climate action, aiming to meet the 75% target towards 2030 and beyond.
ADB recognizes its important role in supporting its DMCs through extending technical assistance, facilitating technology transfer, mobilizing additional resources, turning climate ambition into investment plans, and leveraging finance. As Asia and the Pacific’s climate bank, ADB is working to provide strategic advice and facilitate innovative financing. The bank is also enhancing knowledge and awareness and helping its DMCs to achieve their climate and development objectives.
In the context of adaptation, ADB’s focus is on supporting its DMCs in turning their National Adaptation Plans into investment programs. ADB also assists with identifying, developing, and financing sovereign and non-sovereign investment in climate resilience. This is especially in agriculture, water resources, urban development, and social development. ADB also helps build capacity in, and knowledge of, innovative adaptation measures, such as nature-based solutions.
On mitigation, ADB’s Energy Policy supports universal access to reliable and affordable energy services. Promoting the low-carbon transition commits ADB to no longer funding new coal power production. The bank’s Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM) seeks to accelerate the retirement of coal-fired power plants, while ensuring a just transition for workers and communities.
Through the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Advance platform, ADB aims to mobilize finance, build capacity, and provide knowledge and other support to implement DMCs’ NDCs, including upstream support. With the Article 6 Support Facility, ADB will encourage innovation in the development of mitigation action in DMCs and contribute to achieving a critical mass of expertise. ADB will also learn lessons from pilot activities and enhance DMCs’ ability to contribute to international negotiations and enhance their ability to operationalize Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.
In Bangladesh, the southeastern area is highly susceptible to disasters triggered by natural hazards. ADB’s ongoing Emergency Assistance Project in the country helps strengthen disaster resilience and protect those displaced by constructing cyclone shelters in primary schools and a multipurpose cyclone shelter. The project uses energy neutral Omni Processor technology that turns waste into fertilizer, power, and clean water.
In Bhutan, flash floods triggered by monsoon rains are now more frequent due to climate change. The government has been working to mitigate exposure to geophysical and flood hazards. ADB’s Phuentsholing Township Development Project supports these efforts by strengthening flood defenses and constructing new urban areas, enabling safe and sustainable expansion of human settlements and commercial activities.
More than half the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from Asia and the Pacific. The region faces a huge challenge to decarbonize given its reliance on coal-fired power stations. These countries will need to navigate many political, economic, and capacity challenges in order to implement a green transition and to mobilize significant amounts of finance.
ADB recognizes the support countries will require to help plan their transition, including identifying key investments and mobilizing financing. This includes support for institutional development and policy reforms to assist countries in making positive climate choices that will also facilitate climate investment.
ADB is working to rapidly and significantly reduce fossil fuel use through its Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM). The ETM uses a market-based approach to accelerate the transition to clean energy through the retirement or repurposing of fossil fuel plants, while also creating investment opportunities for renewable and clean energy technologies. The ETM is being piloted in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Viet Nam.
To accelerate the green recovery, ADB is supporting the ASEAN Green Recovery Platform through the ADB-managed ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility (ACGF). The ACGF develops and helps finance green infrastructure projects that are aligned with the Paris Agreement, catalyzing funds for green infrastructure across Southeast Asia.
Emissions from combustion engines not only reduce air quality but also contribute to the greenhouse gases that drive climate change. Addressing this requires moving away from vehicles that run on fossil fuels and transitioning towards electric and hybrid vehicles. However, the uptake of electric vehicles still depends on fossil fuel prices and incentives. More support must be given to enable the deployment of sustainable transport business models in ADB DMCs.
Focusing on mass transport such as bus rapid transit systems, is another way of supporting sustainable, low carbon, and climate resilient urban transport systems. Bus rapid transit systems have been successful in many cities in reducing both traffic congestion and air pollution.
The Asia Pacific region has experienced a signiﬁcant increase in the number, intensity, and impact of extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones, extreme rainfall, droughts, and heat waves. Among disasters triggered by natural hazards, the most notable is the recent significant increase in the number of floods.
Compared to the average number of floods in the region from 2012 to 2018, each year from 2019 to 2021 recorded the highest number of flood events since 2012. In addition, India had two glacial lake outbursts in 2021 that caused flooding and landslides, resulting in 250 fatalities and $210 million in damage and losses. There has been no other similar event on record for the rest of the 10-year reporting period.
The risk posed by natural hazards is expected to intensify along with the impact of climate change. Given this, ADB works with its DMCs to understand, reduce, and manage disaster risk. The bank works to provide solutions and finance to strengthen the capacity of communities, services, and financial systems to address these challenges.
ADB prioritizes the development of integrated approaches to improve climate and disaster resilience. Measures include risk-informed development plans, disaster-resilient infrastructure design, and risk-sensitive land use management. ADB also focus on integrated flood risk management, the diversification of livelihoods, and the strengthening of early warning systems.
Providing rapid support to DMCs responding to disasters and building back better are also priorities. ADB provides finance and technical assistance, supports post-disaster needs assessments and sector recovery plans, and works to ensure that risk reduction is at the core of rebuilding to avoid future losses. The bank also works with member countries on financial preparedness for disaster response, this includes providing contingent disaster financing.
ADB’s focus on forest management and conservation is increasing, recognizing that nature-based solutions can help reduce the impact of climate-related disasters and contribute to building resilience through rehabilitating and expanding natural ecosystems. ADB has been active in providing knowledge and technical assistance on protecting and investing in natural capital, as well as integrating nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in the region.