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Investing in Climate Change Adaptation in Fragile Contexts

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A panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland looked at how commitment to climate adaptation finance in fragile communities has been lagging behind, despite numerous warnings. Climate research estimates that climate and weather related disasters have surged five-fold over 50 years and disproportionately impact poorer countries. Adverse weather conditions have severely affected agriculture, which is a major source of income for local communities. Climate watchdogs say that in the past 20 years, agricultural land declined by 127 million hectares, roughly the size of Niger. Declining water sources due to droughts have also brought a rise in conflict over resources and flooding has led to the displacement of many communities who are forced to seek alternative living spaces. The United Nations says the world’s 10 most fragile countries are only receiving less than 1% of climate adaptation finance. According to the global body an anticipatory response to disasters could yield a 7-1 return on investment in one year. The question is how will organisations support climate adaptation and resilience for the world’s most vulnerable communities?


  • Tjada McKenna, CEO Mercy Corps
  • Elizabeth Hausler, Founder and CEO Build Change
  • Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, Exec Secretary UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • Alan Belfield, Chairman Arup Group Ltd
  • Hindou Oumrou Ibrahim, President Association for Indigenous Women and People of Chad

Key takeaways from the panel

  • Communities need discussions happening on international platforms to drive real change on the ground
  • Big business must rethink their approach to financing these communities as a ‘risk’ but rather preventing a larger humanitarian crisis
  • Companies that have benefitted from the natural resources in vulnerable communities should plough back their proceeds into climate adaptation programmes in those communities
  • Panel highlighted that empowering communities with access to finance at a lower rate and technology solutions, would be part of the solutions to fighting the adverse effects of climate change in those areas.

Standard Bank’s Head of Corporate Citizenship Wendy Dobson

With the world’s most vulnerable communities affected by climate-related weather events and disasters, mainly in Africa, receiving only receiving 1% of climate adaptation finance, Standard Bank recognises the need to develop targeted investment mandates into these regions to support a just transition.

Energy is a key enabler of sustainable and inclusive growth, especially in developing markets where vast populations need power to drive entrepreneurship, access education and other basic services. However, the power sector is a significant contributor to carbon emissions.

Wendy Dobson

Renewable energy will play a critical role in decarbonising the sector. We need to continuously engage with key regions to support their transition toward net zero through a variety of sustainable finance solutions, including the use of proceeds and sustainability-linked instruments. Our five-year target is to mobilise a cumulative amount of between ZAR 250 billion and ZAR 300 billion in sustainable finance by the end of 2026 into Africa.

Standard Bank aims to provide an additional ZAR 50 billion of financing for renewable energy power plants over the next three years, and to underwrite the financing of a further ZAR 15 billion of renewable energy power plants over the same timeframe.