Making the connection between cross-sectoral transport planning and climate change adaptation in developing countries

By Leena Klossner, Deputy Director, Nordic Development Fund (NDF) 

Climate change and related extreme weather events threaten the society, its infrastructure, public and private assets. Transport sector is no exception. Given the cross-sectoral nature of transport itself, the realization of climate change impacts globally may provide an interesting window of opportunity for re-thinking the ways how sustainable transport solutions can foster inter-sectoral planning, and thereby support the process towards a comprehensive way to deal with climate change adaptation. 

Governments with large development needs in the transport sector are well placed to grasp the opportunity. Transport solutions and development plans should be created so that they take into consideration a wide variety of sectors: water resources management, energy, land use planning, demographic changes, urban issues, health and education as well as private sector development. The traditional way of each sector taking decisions separately, is outdated and does not support climate change adaptation in a comprehensive way. Sustainable transport projects can be transformative for climate change adaptation too, if a more systematic approach can be introduced in transport planning to realize and take into consideration the dependencies and interactions between sectors.

Financing should be directed towards supporting activities which help the public and the private sectors in developing countries globally to realize the connection between cross-sectoral information sharing and planning of sustainable transport solutions that simultaneously benefit climate change adaptation. In many cases bottom-up research supported by case studies which demonstrate the case through economics could help in cracking the issue, and make the case for much needed policy development. Unfortunately tools for doing this are in many cases missing, connections are not realized and opportunities are missed.

Development financing institutions can assist countries in developing sustainable transport projects through which the potential and benefits of cross-sectoral transport planning and climate change adaptation can be demonstrated and realised. Such assistance should be focused on showing the economic and social benefits of involving several sectors, and thereby contribute to knowledge generation that can be used for policy development and investment planning.

Nordic Development Fund has partnered up with several international financing institutions to co-finance activities in relation to climate change adaptation and mitigation. A recently approved project co-financed by the Nordic Development Fund in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank in Cambodia will pilot a multi-sectoral adaptation framework encompassing road infrastructure and resilience combined with interventions on renewable energy, income generation and disaster risk management. NDF will actively follow up on the results and lessons learned so that cross-sectoral adaptation option can be piloted and scaled up in transport projects also elsewhere in the world.

The Nordic Development Fund (NDF) invested between 1990 and 2005 almost 275 million dollars in 32 road infrastructure projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Today, NDF’s mandate focuses on climate change and development. NDF finances a number of transport sector adaptation programs in developing countries globally. The focus areas of these projects range from identification of transport sector vulnerabilities to development of adaptive capacity and integration of climate change aspects into planning and design of road transport infrastructure. To support transport sector mitigation action, NDF has recently provided financing for a Transport NAMA Support Facility in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank to support Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) aiming at cost-effective low carbon transport strategies.

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