Plan for the Activity-Level Climate Risk Assessment

Planning for the climate risk assessment is the first phase of climate risk management for activities.

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Climate Risk Management for Activity Design and Implementation: Phase 1.
The first phase of climate risk management for activities is planning for the climate risk assessment. This planning phase involves reviewing previously completed assessments and determining the appropriate assessment approach. You may navigate this graphic to jump directly to the specific steps of planning for the risk assessment, or to jump to other phases of the CRM process.

The first phase of climate risk management entails planning for an assessment of climate risks and opportunities. Planning involves two major steps the order of which is not strict:

CRM Resources for Planning for Assessments

Review Previously Completed Assessment(s)

The design team should review any previously completed climate risk assessments. The design team can find the climate risk screening results documented in the Climate Change Annex of the Regional or Country Development Cooperation Strategy (R/CDCS). The results of the project-level climate risk assessment are reflected in the Summary of Conclusions from Analyses section of the project appraisal document (PAD) and fully documented in the environmental compliance analysis (e.g., Initial Environmental Evaluation (IEE), Request for Categorical Exclusion (RCE)). The R/CDCSs and environmental compliance analyses may not include climate risk management if they were completed before USAID began systematically implementing CRM.

After reviewing previous assessments, the design team may determine that climate risks were rated low, or that despite moderate or high risk ratings, the project-level assessment provided enough detail to inform decision-making for the activity. In these cases, additional analysis is not required and the design team can simply incorporate results of the project-level climate risk assessment into activity design. If an assessment has not been conducted or if moderate or high risk was found for the project and additional analysis is needed to adequately inform design decisions, the design team would move to complete the remaining steps below.

Determine Assessment Approach

A key part of planning the assessment is determining the approach, which includes who will conduct the assessment and when. The assessment should be conducted early enough to inform the activity design. Thus, it is best practice for USAID staff to conduct the assessment internally. If information is not sufficient, however, USAID may request an implementing partner to conduct the assessment or USAID may conduct an initial assessment and request partners to conduct additional analyses. Taking stock of available information and what information is still needed can help determine how and when to conduct the assessment. Lessons from implementing CRM thus far suggest two general timings:

  • Many USAID staff have found that conducting the climate risk assessment around the time they are developing the development hypothesis / theory of change is the most useful because it is early enough to inform activity design.
  • Other USAID staff have found that it is only feasible to assess climate risks once interventions and context are well-defined, which may not occur until after award. Note, however, that this timing makes it harder for the assessment to inform the design.

To thoroughly assess an activity for climate risks, the CRM guidance recommends a multidisciplinary approach and team to ensure consideration of multiple perspectives and diverse expertise. The assessment team may include members of the design team as well as other individuals. Involvement from the person leading design and implementation is highly recommended. It is helpful if the assessment team comprises at least one person familiar with interpreting climate information, someone with relevant sectoral expertise, and one person familiar with the relevant geography and socio-economic context.

An important aspect of this step is to determine what climate information is relevant and useful based on desired outcomes of the activity. The activity’s timeframe (i.e., duration of anticipated impact--often much longer than the duration of the activity itself) is also relevant. For example, assessment teams should review longer-term climate information when they expect activity outcomes to be sustained for decades (e.g., construction activities). The assessment team can start with the climate risk profile (CRP) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fact sheet available for the mission. A primer on using climate information is also available. The team may identify additional information needs as the assessment progresses.