Plan for the Project-Level Climate Risk Assessment

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

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Climate Risk Management for Project Design and Implementation: Phase 1.
The first phase of climate risk management for projects is planning for the climate risk assessment. This planning phase involves reviewing previously completed screenings 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 the Strategy-Level Climate Risk Screening

The design team should review any previously completed climate risk assessments or screenings during the development of the project design plan (PDP). The design team can find the strategy-level climate risk screening results documented in the climate change annex of the Regional or Country Development Cooperation Strategy (R/CDCS). Note that the R/CDCSs might not include climate risk management if it was completed before USAID began systematically implementing CRM.

After reviewing the strategy-level climate risk screening results, the design team may determine that climate risks were rated low. In this case, additional analysis at the project level is not required. However, design teams are encouraged to pursue an assessment if new information indicates that climate risks and/or opportunities should be considered.

If a strategy-level climate risk screening has not been conducted, or if the project falls under a development objective, intermediate result, or sub-intermediate result that was rated moderate or high risk, the design team would move to complete the remaining steps below.

Determine Assessment Approach

Determining the assessment approach entails thinking about when the assessment will be conducted, how, and by whom. USAID’s guidance emphasizes that climate risk assessments should be detailed enough to inform decision-making but not overly costly or burdensome. Thus, the assessment can take a variety of forms, ranging from simple narratives to complex technical analyses based on the potential risks, level of detail needed, and operating constraints. Regardless of approach, the team will need to document the results.

The design team will need to have some idea of the project’s purpose and focus in order to conduct the climate risk assessment. The preliminary project purpose identified in the project design plan (PDP), can provide a scope for the climate risk assessment. At the same time, the design team should include its intended method of assessment in the project design plan. Current experience suggests that conducting the assessment while creating the development hypothesis / theory of change is the most useful approach.

For USAID projects, assessments should be conducted internally with the best available information, including existing analyses. If information or expertise is not sufficient, the team may want to commission a climate risk analysis tailored to the project, or internally conduct an initial high-level assessment at the project level, and then more detailed analyses at the activity level. If conducted internally, it is helpful to adopt a multidisciplinary approach and team to ensure consideration of multiple perspectives and diverse expertise. The assessment team may include members of the project design team as well as other individuals. It is helpful if the team comprises at least one person familiar with interpreting climate information (e.g., climate integration lead or CIL), one technical expert, one person familiar with the relevant geography and socio-economic context, and the person leading design and implementation.

An important aspect of this step is to determine what climate information is relevant and useful based on desired outcomes of the project. The project’s timeframe (i.e., how long outcomes are expected to last—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 desired impacts to be sustained for decades (e.g., for infrastructure). The assessment team can start with the climate risk profile (CRP) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fact sheet available for the mission as well as additional relevant analyses, some of which can be found in the Climatelinks resource library. A primer on using climate information is also available. The assessment team may identify additional information needs as the assessment progresses.