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Climate change

Overview of Australia's assistance for climate change

Australia is working to find practical solutions to the climate challenge. We are working with countries in the region to manage natural resources, respond to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters and find pathways to sustainable economic growth.

Why we give aid

Australia’s aid program helps to improve living standards by promoting sustainable economic growth. Natural resources are a fundamental building block of economic development—but the environment is under increasing pressure to support growing populations. At the same time, emerging threats such as climate change are increasing the risks to communities in developing countries, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised. Without intervention, the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation will erode and reverse
development gains, and jeopardise the livelihoods of poor people.

How we give aid

Australia works with countries in the region to build resilience to climate-related shocks and manage the impacts of climate change. By integrating climate considerations into our investments, we ensure development impacts are lasting. We do this through climate risk screening, by climate-proofing new investments and by designing programs to ensure development outcomes are attained even under changing climatic conditions. We also implement mandatory safeguards to ensure that we protect the environment when delivering the aid program overseas. For more information on these safeguards, see Environmental protection.

We also work with our developing country partners to improve their living standards through a cleaner growth trajectory. Australia assists partner countries to achieve resource efficiency in the use of food, energy and water. One example of Australia’s bilateral engagement is our support for Vietnam’s plans to restructure its economy, improve energy security and better manage natural resources, see our Development assistance in Vietnam page.

Through Community-based Climate Change Action Grants, Australia is working with non-government organisations to assist communities in the Pacific and South-East Asia to address climate change and development needs at the community level. For example, in Timor-Leste, DFAT is working with Care Australia and other partners to build the resilience of vulnerable households to the impacts of climate change. Under this project, water sources have been protected and Community Water User Groups have taken on the role of operation and maintenance of their water systems. These User Groups have also helped hundreds of households to build their own toilets and hand-washing facilities.

Climate change and environment initiatives

Community-based Climate Change Action Grants

$34 million, 2011-2015

The Community-based Climate Change Action Grants Program is supporting Australian and international non-government organisations (NGOs) to work with local partners in the Pacific and South-East Asia to address climate change and development needs at the community level.

Ten NGOs were successful in securing grant funding under the program. They are implementing projects in Vietnam, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands and Tonga. Projects are due to be completed by 2015.

In April 2014, Australia hosted a Knowledge and Learning Workshop for NGO partners to coincide with the 8th International Conference on Community-based Adaptation in Nepal. Participants discussed achievements, challenges and lessons – focused on the effective integration of climate change into broader community development programs.

Achievements of these projects at the community level have included:

  1. increasing water security in the face of increasing drought conditions in the Pinepal Island community in PNG by installing water capture and storage system
  2. improving the resilience of communities in Vietnam to climate change through the use of new rice varieties which have reduced fertiliser use and greenhouse gas emissions, while improving disease resistance and substantially increasing farmers’ profit margins.

Project activities across all regions have already resulted in increased local understanding of climate change and an improved capacity to respond in locally appropriate ways. Increasing knowledge, and ability to act on that knowledge, is crucial building climate resilience. It is vital to ensure that the information communities are accessing is of high quality.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
Application guidelines 2011 Design document

Small Island Developing States Community-based Adaptation (SIDS CBA)

$12 million, 2008-2016

Australia provided $12 million for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to implement small-scale community-based climate change adaptation activities through the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Program (GEF SGP). The program is implemented across 42 countries, focusing on Small Island Developing States.

Funds are supporting practical activities that make a real difference to peoples’ lives. An example of projects funded to date is:

  • On Manono Island in Samoa, the Program is increasing the resilience of coastal communities by upgrading the sea wall to prevent further erosion, providing training in disaster preparedness and response, helping to relocate vulnerable housing and infrastructure to safer areas, constructing a disaster safe house, assisting coral reef reproduction, and developing the potential for eco-tourism.

Related links

Coral Triangle Initiative

$8 million, 2012-2016

The Coral Triangle marks an area in South East Asia and the Western Pacific containing the highest diversity of coral species in the world. The region contains 76% of known coral species, 53% of the world’s coral reefs, 37% of coral reef fish species and the largest extent of mangroves. The economic outputs provided by this biodiversity are of high importance to the health and livelihoods of the 360 million people in the region, and many more beyond. The Coral Triangle Initiative aims to conserve coral reef ecosystems and support sustainable fisheries, food security, and marine livelihoods objectives. It is both a conservation and a development initiative.

Initiative members are Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. This membership supports relationships between a unique blend of Asian and Pacific; and developed, developing and least developed countries. The Initiative is supported by development partners, invited by the members to assist with implementation. Partners are expected to contribute and help mobilise funding support, and provide strategic support towards the governance of the Initiative.

Current Partners are Australia, the United States of America, Asian Development Bank through Global Environment Facility, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund. This bringing together of bilateral donor nations, civil society organisations, and a multi-lateral organisation provides a unique and innovative platform for collaboration.

The Initiative is focused on implementation of practical actions at regional, national and local levels to improve marine and coastal management. Implementation of the Initiative is guided by a Regional Plan of Action, and National Plans of Action in each country, which also serve as the national marine policy/program of each country. These plans outline goals on marine planning, fisheries management, marine protected areas, climate change adaptation, and threatened species protection.

Australia’s support to the Initiative has two objectives:

  • The development of the Initiative into an increasingly effective regional forum
  • Strengthening national, provincial and local level governance, in order to improve marine planning, management and livelihoods. This includes a focus on delivering tangible biodiversity and human development benefits in selected focus sites.

Our focus sites are in Indonesia, Timor Leste, PNG and Solomon Islands.

Related links

Centre for International Forestry Research

$10 million, 2011-2015

The department manages a $10 million partnership (2011-12 to 2014-15) with the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), which is a non-profit global research centre working on forest management in less-developed countries. CIFOR is a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research consortium. The CIFOR partnership supports research and outreach to provide policy makers and practitioners with knowledge, analysis and tools to reduce forest carbon emissions and enhance carbon stocks in a way that has equitable impacts and benefits, including poverty reduction, enhancement of ecosystem services and protection of livelihoods, rights and land tenure.

Mapping of the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in vulnerable developing countries is expected to be finished in 2014. Data have been collected to enable emissions from land use change in forests and tropical wetlands to be better estimated. CIFOR is also developing measures of the impact of forest interventions in six countries, 23 initiative sites, 170 villages, and 4,600 households. This will be an empirical reference point for knowing if measures to reduce forest emissions meet effectiveness, efficiency and equity goals and benefit communities.

Related links

  • Further information, research reports and other documents are available at the CIFOR website

Last reviewed: 17 December, 2014