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Climate-smart societies
A fundamental aim is to improve people’s lives, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
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A systems perspective
Our approach is always context-specific, taking account of local social, environmental and economic conditions.
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Building climate-smart societies worldwide
Thanks to our international footprint, we can share climate innovation and excellence for the benefit of clients and communities everywhere.
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Climate-smart societies

International development helps governments, companies and communities in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to achieve better social, economic and environmental outcomes.

A fundamental aim is to improve people’s lives, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. For development projects to provide transformational and lasting benefits, they must be resilient to the physical impacts of climate change and low carbon, aligned with the global goal of reducing emissions to net-zero.

Many longstanding social, economic and environmental challenges common in LMICs make them vulnerable to the effects of climate change; and climate events compound existing problems. Organisations and communities are already struggling with the effects of climate change, which are getting progressively worse as the Earth warms. At the same time, emerging economies are where the majority of the world’s population growth is occurring, and where most new social and economic infrastructure will be built over the coming decades – meaning more property, assets, goods and services, communities and livelihoods will potentially be at risk.

A systems perspective

Climate-smart societies encompass infrastructure and urban development, sustainable resource management, farming, the extractive industries, education, health and social care.

We encourage a shift in thinking from individual projects or sectors to an integrated and multidisciplinary ‘systems’ way of working. The aim is to manage climate risks and opportunities comprehensively, and to realise co-benefits for multiple stakeholders and the environment while doing so.

Adapt, inform, reform, transform

Our approach to building climate-smart societies looks across three ‘levels’:

  • Climate events – the physical impacts of climate change on people, property, the environment and the economy. They’re the visible symptoms of current and future climate change. We seek to reduce the severity of climate events through adaptive resilience, achieved by designing robustness, redundancy, responsiveness and resilience into assets, systems, services and organisations.
  • Patterns – the social and economic behaviours and trends that climate change is causing within social, economic and environmental systems. Some of these trends embed or compound vulnerability, contributing to the probability and severity of climate events and cascade effects. We seek to counter harmful patterns and encourage positive ones by understanding the impacts of climate change on society, assets, organisations, the economy and the environment, and the effects on attitudes and behaviours – paving the way for patterns to be changed.
  • Root causes – the underlying culture, thinking, assumptions, power structures and policies of governments and companies that expose society, the economy and the environment to climate risks. We seek to develop institutional/organisational understanding and knowledge of climate change, and the capability to define and pursue climate-smart objectives.

To reduce exposure to climate risk, transformation is required across all three levels.

Climate events are highly visible. Currently, most attention and investment is focused on recovering from them after they happen. Climate events are driving negative patterns as diverse as global migration, depletion of water resources, increased energy use for air conditioning, refusal to invest in essential infrastructure, and withholding insurance.

As climate change drives more extreme weather and sea level rise, the only way climate events can be prevented from escalating, or even reduced, is by tackling the root causes.

Our approach combines information, insight and expertise in climate resilience and emissions reduction, plus technical, management, policy and finance skills. Working across the three levels, we help our clients to reduce exposure to climate-related risks, for themselves and society. In doing so, they become better able to achieve their objectives.

Building climate-smart societies worldwide

Who do we assist? National and local governments. Domestic and international private sector companies. Foreign donors, investors and lenders. International agencies. And more.

Thanks to our international footprint, we can share climate innovation and excellence for the benefit of clients and communities everywhere.

We can help you to:

  1. Develop a systems view of risks and opportunities. Understand the interconnections and interdependencies between your organisation and others that are critical to your and their success and sustainability. Work out areas of shared risk and opportunity and pursue mutually beneficial strategies for addressing them, looking past traditional technical, organisational and funding boundaries, and beyond usual time horizons.
  2. Drive transformation. Develop a vision for managing climate risks and opportunities, and translate it into a change programme that will enable you to fulfil your wider goals. Become a capable organisation, with the leadership, culture and skills to plan and cost-efficiently reduce carbon emissions, ultimately to net-zero, while building resilience.
  3. Understand the climate risks you face. Gather the information you need to make decisions, considering technical and commercial alongside social, environmental and economic factors, and taking account of policy, legislation, regulation and governance.
  4. Get the right people in the room. Bring onboard the private sector companies, government stakeholders, investors and citizens’ groups who are critical to achieving your climate objectives alongside wider social, environmental and economic goals. Work with others to manage shared risks, and pursue common goals, helping available capital go further.
  5. Access and benefit from climate finance. Demonstrate the co-benefits of managing climate risks and meeting social and economic development objectives to unlock capital from international funding institutions and donors.
  6. Attract private sector investment. Build investor confidence by being climate-aware during project preparation and managing climate risks effectively throughout project delivery and operation, as part of wider environmental, social and governance risk management.
  7. Develop innovative, affordable and sustainable solutions. Look at the whole-life performance of projects, designing for a net-zero carbon future and for adaptation to a range of potential climate change scenarios. For environmental and infrastructure projects, consider nature-based solutions alongside or instead of traditional engineering, to gain co-benefits such as carbon reduction, sequestration and resilience, biodiversity and social wellbeing, as well as reduced operational cost.
  8. Stay on track and drive progress. Align projects and programmes with national and/or regional carbon reduction and climate resilience strategies – and develop those strategies if required. Monitor and report performance and set improvement targets.
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