Climate Risk Management at the Strategy Level

This page introduces the implementation of climate risk management (CRM) for strategies. CRM is also implemented for projects and activities.

C l i m a t e R i s k M a n a g e m e n t f o r S t r a t e g y D e s i g n a n d I m p l e m e n t a t i o n I . P l a n f o r S c r e e n i n g » « I I . C o n d u c t S c r e e n i n g « I I I . I n c o r p o r a t e R e s u l t s I V . I m p l e m e n t & M a n a g e » C R M f o r P r o j e c t s C R M f o r A c t i v i t i e s
Climate Risk Management for Strategy Design and Implementation.
This graphic and the eLearning tool emphasize that climate risk management (CRM) is iterative and an integral part of program design and implementation, not a separate process. You may navigate this graphic to jump directly to the specific phases of the CRM process.

Climate risk management (CRM) at the strategy level seeks to enhance the sustainability, resilience and impacts of USAID’s strategic development objectives while safeguarding US taxpayer dollars. To do this, climate risk screening early in strategy development allows USAID to assess, address and adaptively manage current and future climate risks and opportunities. For example, a strategy that envisions promoting agriculture-led economic growth as a pillar to support self-reliance may be at risk due to changing rainfall patterns or an increasing frequency of drought. By screening for climate risks early in strategy development, USAID ensures these risks are identified in time to be addressed and managed, as necessary. This prevents climate risks from undermining USAID’s development objectives, and thus supports the journey to self-reliance.

CRM at the strategy level should also lay out the framework for conducting CRM at the project and activity levels of the program cycle. Specifically, climate risk screening should highlight programmatic areas that will need to address climate risks through project implementation and identify areas that require additional analyses during project or activity design.

CRM at the strategy level also helps identify those programming areas that are at a low risk from climate stressors. Any development objectives and intermediate results (IR) rated as low risk do not require additional screening later in the program cycle. For example, if a governance IR that seeks to enhance the effectiveness of a national judicial system is rated as low risk at the strategy level, any projects or activities designed under this IR will not require further climate risk assessment.

Although USAID policy allows flexibility in the application of CRM, the process generally comprises four phases (with several steps within each phase):

  1. Plan for Screening
  2. Conduct Screening
  3. Incorporate Results
  4. Implement and Adaptively Manage

The graphic and eLearning tool aim to help USAID staff think about how these phases and steps are integrated into strategy development and implementation. The order of the steps within the phases is flexible and may be tailored to each mission’s or operating unit’s situation.

External climate expertise is not necessarily required to conduct CRM at the strategy level. In fact, current experience has shown that often mission staff, especially local staff, already possess most, if not all, the required expertise and knowledge. The processes and tools outlined here are intended to help organize that embedded knowledge in a systematic manner, provide resources to complement in-mission expertise when appropriate, and document in a transparent manner how identified climate risks are addressed.

Current experience suggests that the best way to make CRM effective is to ensure that those responsible for strategy design and implementation actively participate in the process. In the explanations below and the eLearning tool, we refer to these people as the “design team.”

The first phase of climate risk management (CRM) entails developing a clear plan for conducting the screening. Creating and sensitizing this plan early in strategy development helps ensure that CRM informs the strategy without slowing or delaying the process.

Proper planning includes two key steps. These steps can be conducted in any order, or at the same time. However, they are most effective when completed before the results framework and theory of change are finalized.

  • Determine Screening Approach
  • Collect and Review Relevant Climate Information

Conducting a climate risk screening consists of three interrelated steps:

  1. Assess Climate Risks and Opportunities
  2. Address Climate Risks
  3. Plan for Adaptive Management

Design teams have flexibility in the approach and resources they use to conduct the screening. Using USAID’s Climate Risk Screening and Management Tool (CRM Tool) provides a systematic framework to help teams assess and address risks holistically. The tool’s sector-specific annexes provide examples of climate risks, CRM measures and opportunities. While missions can elect to use other approaches, the CRM tool has the added advantage of being similar in format to the mandatory table that must be included in the Climate Change Annex.

At the strategy level, missions are also required to assess the impacts of potential interventions on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Such an assessment is intended to ensure that mission activities take advantage of opportunities to contribute to climate change mitigation as appropriate for the country context.

To realize the benefits of climate risk management (CRM), design teams must incorporate screening results into strategy design. Incorporating CRM into strategy design not only ensures the sustainability, resilience, and impact of USAID’s strategic development objectives, but also facilitates consideration of climate risks during project and activity design and implementation. Effectively incorporating screening results involves these three interrelated steps:

  1. Refine Development Objectives
  2. Incorporate Results into the Strategy
  3. Document in Climate Change Annex

Climate risk management (CRM) should be incorporated, as appropriate, into implementation and monitoring, evaluation and learning to ensure climate risks are addressed and adaptively managed. It should also be incorporated into later stages of the program cycle to ensure all projects and activities appropriately consider and address climate risks. This phase involves the following three steps:

  1. Incorporate in Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Processes
  2. Incorporate in Projects and Activities
  3. Periodically Assess and Adjust