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Limiting the damage: UN helps policy-makers tackle climate change |


Armando Calidonio, mayor of the large industrial city of San Pedro Sula, in Honduras, said: “Floods are increasing and becoming much stronger events reaching neighborhoods and areas that have never been hit before. influence in the past”.

“We’re seeing rainfall converging into more intense storms that in general, even in the most developed areas, are causing stormwater drainage systems to collapse.”

San Pedro Sula has always been vulnerable to tropical storms and floods, but the problem is only getting worse, as climate change causes unprecedented changes to weather systems. The financial and human costs are only likely to increase.

To help people like Mayor Calidonio protect their citizens and best adapt to future climate change impacts, the UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) using a tool called Climate Adaptation Economics (ECA), identifies the most promising and cost-effective strategies, tailored to specific regions.


In the La Democracia neighborhood of the municipality of San Manuel in the province of Cortés, flooding caused by the flooding of the Ulúa River caused by hurricanes Eta and Iota has submerged the entire neighborhood.

© UNICEF / Martin Cálix / AFP-Serv

In the La Democracia neighborhood of the municipality of San Manuel in the province of Cortés, flooding caused by the flooding of the Ulúa River caused by hurricanes Eta and Iota has submerged the entire neighborhood.

The danger multiplies

Using ECA methodology, UNU-EHS and partners predict that by 2042, annual losses from various climate hazards will double in the city of San Pedro Sula.

Working closely with local authorities, they considered different options for addressing these risks and identified the best solutions.

After this process, a number of recommendations were made, such as improving drainage, reforesting along river beds, and building vegetative lagoons (channels for storing runoff water) on vulnerable areas. the city’s most flooded.

Additionally, the study concludes that the municipality would benefit from further investment in climate risk-related data, improved weather monitoring networks and early warning systems.

This work also helps local governments access financing for climate adaptation measures, as the analysis can serve as a guide for development banks, as they assess the extent of climate change. worthiness of the investment prior to awarding grants.


Forest Landscape Restoration in Ethiopia

CIFOR / Mokhamad Edliadi

Forest Landscape Restoration in Ethiopia

Coping with droughts and floods

The ECA approach is being used in a variety of settings, both urban and rural, in different parts of the world. For example, in the Afar and Somali regions of Ethiopia, which suffers from extreme droughts and some of the hottest temperatures in the world, the analysis shows that drought-related losses are likely to quadruple by 2020. 2050.

Recommendations for the regions include investing around $10 million in adaptation measures, such as the establishment of commune seed banks, improved forage storage, better management of the sites. conserve and restore wetlands and establish forage and forage nurseries.

According to the analysis, this $10 million investment will allow both regions to avoid approximately $500 million in damage and protect approximately 90,000 people from drought over the next 31 years.


A man carrying his children on a motorbike walks through a flooded road in Da Nang city, Vietnam on October 30, 2020, following Typhoon Molave.

© UNICEF / Linh Pham / AFP-Services

A man carrying his children on a motorbike walks through a flooded road in Da Nang city, Vietnam on October 30, 2020, following Typhoon Molave.

Vietnamese studies

In Can Tho, a city in southern Vietnam, there are many climate challenges, including floods and heat waves. Here, an ECA study revealed that annual damage from floods and heatwaves is expected to quadruple by 2050.

However, a combination of measures such as mobile flood protection embankments, flood awareness raising, and restoration of existing drainage systems, at a cost of less than $6 million, would avert the estimated damage. approximately $300 million and protect about 15,000 people over the next three decades from different types of flooding.

Similarly, by investing less than $16 million in vulnerable public cooling centers, climate-smart agriculture, and the introduction of white rooftop surfaces, rights in Can Tho would be able to prevent about $250 million in damage and protect about 800,000 people over the next three decades.


An elderly couple, severely affected by this year's hurricane season.  They recounted their harrowing experience of high floodwaters in their simple one-room home.

© UNICEF / Truong Viet Hung

An elderly couple, severely affected by this year’s hurricane season. They recounted their harrowing experience of high floodwaters in their simple one-room home.

Nurturing ambition

Altogether, the three case studies show that investing in adaptation today is far more cost-effective than dealing with the damage that could occur three decades from now.

“Using the ECA approach, countries and communities have the data and information they need to develop adaptation plans,” said Dr. Maxime Souvignet, Climate Adaptation Economics Team Leader at UNU-EHS. more ambitious climate mitigation and response. “These measures will assist them in increasing their resilience to the impacts of current and projected future climate conditions.”



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