Plan for the Strategy-Level Climate Risk Screening

Planning for the climate risk screening is the first phase of climate risk management for strategies.

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Climate Risk Management for Strategy Design and Implementation: Phase 1.
The first phase of climate risk management for strategies is planning for the climate risk screening. This planning phase involves determining the appropriate screening approach and reviewing relevant climate information. 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 (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

USAID allows significant flexibility in how CRM is conducted. Therefore each mission or operating unit should consider carefully what approach to take, including when the screening will be conducted, how, and by whom.

USAID’s guidance emphasizes that climate risk screening should be “fit for purpose”—detailed enough to inform decision-making but not overly costly or operationally burdensome. Therefore, at the strategy level, CRM is not intended to be a comprehensive, costly climate change risk assessment. Instead, it should be a targeted participatory process that identifies and prioritizes risks that could negatively affect USAID’s ability to promote the journey to self reliance.

Identifying the most appropriate time to conduct the screening can be a bit of a balancing act. The design team will want to have at least an initial idea of the strategy’s overall objectives and geographies, but not yet have finalized the results framework (including the exact geographic locations for implementation). Assessing climate risks during this window of time enables the design team to use the screening to inform strategy design while avoiding spending time screening sectors or geographies where USAID is unlikely to work. Current experience suggests that conducting the screening while developing the theory of change can be ideal.

Screenings conducted internally in a participatory manner using the best available information are often the most effective. This is because the screening process can be as important as the screening product. The process helps to bring out the knowledge and expertise of mission staff while building capacity and interest in the screening’s findings. Capacity building is particularly important as the mission will likely need to conduct additional climate risk assessments during project and activity design.

For CRM at the strategy level, sufficient in-house climate expertise is likely already available for all of the countries in which USAID works. Mission staff, especially local staff, already possess most, if not all, the required expertise and knowledge. However, if in-house expertise is deemed insufficient, the design team should consult the climate integration lead (CIL) in the mission, and then technical staff in Washington, D.C. Current experience suggests that the greater the leadership role the design team takes, the more effective CRM will be.

When conducting a screening internally, it is helpful to form a multidisciplinary team to ensure consideration of multiple perspectives and diverse expertise. It is helpful if the team includes at least one person familiar with interpreting climate information (e.g., mission CIL), experts from the relevant technical offices, people familiar with the relevant geography and socio-economic context, and the person leading design and implementation. It should be noted that it is not the responsibility of CILs or mission environmental officers (MEOs) to conduct the screening, but they can be important team members.

Collect and Review Relevant Climate Information

For most of the countries in which USAID works, there will be sufficient climate information and analyses available to conduct CRM at the strategy level. Therefore, commissioning or conducting additional analyses at this level is typically unnecessary.

An important aspect of this step is to identify what climate information is relevant and useful based on the desired outcomes, timeframe and geographies of the strategy. The strategy’s timeframe (i.e., the duration of anticipated impact, which is often much longer than the duration of the strategy itself) is particularly important for determining what information is relevant. For example, design teams will need to review long-term (i.e., 15+ years) climate information when strategic outcomes are expected to be sustained for decades (e.g., long-term economic gains, sustained self-reliance).

One way design teams can start to identify available information is by reviewing the climate risk profiles (CRP) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fact sheets often available for the countries in which USAID works. A primer on using climate information is also available. The team may also identify additional information, such as assessments conducted by partner governments, other donors, NGOs or academics. The design team may also consider consulting with local experts within partner governments and local universities. These consultations can be especially helpful in identifying climate risks as well as risk management measures that are consistent with partner government strategies and policies.