Climate and environment

One of the biggest challenges we face at the moment is understanding atmospheric changes not only better, but also in ways that make sense and resonate at the local level. Key to this is enabling local decision makers and local communities to make appropriate decisions to enhance their own resilience and their own future security.

Environmental development challenges are stark: climate change, limited water resources, and relatively low biological productivity are coupled with a long history of neglect, marginalisation and poor public service delivery.

Researchers at CGD challenge outdated and often harmful approaches to climate and environment challenges. For example, our work on drylands development promotes understanding of drylands as places that host unique natural resources, diverse cultures and resilient communities. By ensuring specific responses to the multi-faceted development needs of these unique environments, our research helps incorporate drylands issues into national and international development frameworks.

Links between infrastructure, basic services, health and climate change are the subject of our multi-centre research in HyCRISTAL, part of the DFID/NERC supported Future Climate for Africa Project.

We also partner with the Sustainability Research Institute (SRI) at the University of Leeds on research into climate compatible development, environmental governance, and issues relating to ecosystem services, biodiversity and livelihoods. The SRI are currently working on creating evidence-based policy to develop sustainable, productive, agricultural systems in sub-Saharan Africa (Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and South Africa). This project will build the evidence base for what works and what doesn’t in climate smart agriculture, and will develop pathways for agricultural development that meet local needs, and create an enabling policy environment.

Further SRI work includes assessing socio-ecological resilience in Vietnamese mangroves in the Red River Delta and evaluating management options to enhance the delivery of benefits and services. The approach incorporates ecology, remote sensing and GIS, social research methods on livelihoods, and scenario evaluation. The research will contribute to a) the livelihoods and resilience of mangrove dependent communities, b) the on-going delivery of ecosystem services across scales, and c) building the capacity for conservation and sustainable management of mangroves in Vietnam.

Read about our research on climate and environment

Land Degradation, Desertification and Climate Change

This book by Mark Reed and Lindsay Stringer identifies key vulnerabilities to the combined effects of climate change and land degradation around the world, with particular attention paid to drylands. It identifies triple-win adaptations that can tackle both climate change and land degradation, whilst supporting biodiversity and ecosystem services. It also discusses methods for monitoring the effects of climate change and land degradation, and adaptations to these processes. It argues for better co-operation and knowledge exchange, so that the research, land user and policy communities can work together more effectively to tackle these challenges.

The Forgotten Billion recommends policies aimed at dryland challenges should reflect five broad conditions for success. Policies should be country-led; inclusive and pro-poor; invest in service delivery; have efficient and targeted social assistance and employment programmes; and by fully integrated with other programmes associated with climate change.

Our research on the dryland development paradigm (DDP) resulted in a new DDP comprising 8 characteristics that are distilled into 3 integrative principles: Unpack, Traverse and Share. The new DDP can be applied and tested to identify key dryland knowledge and development gaps, and can deliver both novel scientific insights and development impact in line with the aspirations of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.