Draft Climate Strategy Frequently Asked Questions

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As part of President Biden’s Leaders’ Summit on Climate in April, USAID committed to developing a new Agency climate strategy.

Why is USAID drafting a new Climate Strategy?

The United States and the world face a profound climate crisis. Climate change is a cross-cutting issue that is already exacerbating global inequities, contributing to conflict, and increasing the need for humanitarian assistance. As Administrator Samantha Power has said, “The climate crisis threatens every inch of progress we make in efforts to build long-term prosperity and secure the individual dignity of the communities we serve.” USAID is already responding to the climate crisis as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s bold climate agenda and implementation of the Paris Agreement by working with partner countries to implement climate solutions.

As part of President Biden’s Leaders’ Summit on Climate in April, USAID committed to developing a new Agency climate strategy. The strategy will build off of the previous strategy that ran from 2012-18 and guide the Agency’s efforts to target climate change resources strategically, ramp up climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, and further integrate climate change considerations into international development and humanitarian assistance programs across all sectors.

What is the new Climate Strategy?

USAID’s forthcoming climate strategy will codify our principles and approach to combating the climate crisis and provide a common framework to hold ourselves accountable as we seek to dramatically reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and support partner countries in strengthening their resilience. This strategy will build on USAID’s long track record of meaningful climate change mitigation and adaptation contributions.

An Agency strategy, per USAID requirements (ADS 200), must include explicit targets to be achieved within a specific time period and, therefore, must be time-bound. Thus, the new climate strategy will focus on specific targets and contain a firm timeline with milestones and concrete deliverables. The timeline for developing our strategy reflects the urgency of this moment, and the targets will reflect that urgency as well.

USAID’s Bureau for Development, Democracy, and Innovation (DDI) and the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security (RFS) are co-leading the climate strategy process in collaboration with all USAID operating units including the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) and Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL) under the new Agency-wide Climate Change Leadership Council. The strategy will advance U.S. government objectives to adapt to and lessen the effects of global climate change and support USAID’s implementation of President Biden’s recent Executive Orders on the climate crisis (including EO 13990 - Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis, EO 14008 - Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, and EO 14013 - Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs to Resettle Refugees and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration). Through this strategy, we are encouraging all of USAID to act boldly and decisively now, together with our partners, to meet the urgency of this moment and build a resilient, prosperous, and equitable world with net zero emissions.

What is the timeline for drafting the Strategy?

The timeline for strategy development is:

  • Evidence and Input Phase (May to June 2021): During the concept phase, USAID will agree on the priorities and scope of the climate strategy. This includes a review of the evidence and learning from current and past climate change programming and consultations with a wide range of stakeholders, both within the U.S. government and in the external partner community. At the end of this phase, USAID will review and synthesize the evidence and recommendations surfaced through the consultation process and then set priorities to guide the scope of the strategy.
  • Drafting Phase (June to October 2021): The working group and drafting team will spend approximately two months preparing a strategic framework and the first draft of the climate strategy.
  • Socialization and Feedback (November 2021): The draft strategy will be released for public comment during this stage and there will be additional opportunities for stakeholders to provide input and feedback.
  • Strategy Launch (Early 2022)

Why didn’t USAID already have a Climate Strategy?

USAID’s previous Climate Change Strategy was developed in 2012 and expired in 2018. We will build on this foundation while raising our ambition to ensure the strategy meets the challenges posed by the climate crisis.

How will the Strategy affect USAID’s work across all sectors?

Climate change is a cross-cutting issue that is already exacerbating global inequities, contributing to conflict, and increasing the need for humanitarian assistance. Through the strategy, we will guide USAID’s efforts to integrate climate considerations and priorities into the Agency’s broader development and humanitarian assistance efforts. The strategy will identify ways that all sectors can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation results, helping communities adapt to and prepare for climate impacts, while growing in a more sustainable, and equitable way.

The strategy will also recognize that climate change disproportionately impacts vulnerable communities including Indigenous Peoples, women and girls, and youth. The strategy will guide efforts to integrate gender equity and climate justice considerations into USAID’s climate change programming and partnerships.

What does this mean for USAID’s programming?

The new climate strategy will include specific targets and contain a firm timeline with milestones and concrete deliverables to be achieved through USAID programming and partnerships. The strategy development process will be closely linked to budget and resource discussions to ensure that internal resources are mobilized to achieve the deliverables within the timeline.

We recognize that a key component of USAID’s work is our longstanding commitment to working in a context-sensitive way. To that end, we are working to provide opportunities for all USAID staff to contribute input to the strategy, and each phase of the process directly involves personnel from across all of USAID’s Bureaus and Independent Offices. We are working across U.S. government departments and agencies, with Congress, with our partner governments, implementing partners, and with local organizations to identify how we can best target our work to achieve optimal climate and development objectives, both now and in the future. We intend our strategy to be a roadmap for how our USAID programming can do just that.

How does USAID plan to leverage its experience and work with other U.S. government agencies to address climate change through this strategy?

In Washington and in the field, USAID works closely with the interagency as part of a whole-of-government approach to addressing climate change. The strategy will be aligned with these whole-of-government efforts while focusing primarily on the unique role that USAID plays within the interagency. USAID’s strategy will also complement and support other U.S. government strategic frameworks, such as the new U.S. International Climate Finance Plan.

USAID has a unique role to lead in climate adaptation, as well as responding to and reducing risk of climate-related disasters, since climate change disproportionately impacts the communities in which the Agency already works. We have decades of experience working with countries that will be critical to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions both through the transition to renewable energy and natural climate solutions, which reduces emissions by improving the conservation, restoration, and management of the natural environment, including carbon-rich tropical forests and other biologically important landscapes. And, as public and private sector finance for climate solutions continues to increase, USAID’s in-country Missions will work with partner governments to provide the context-sensitive, on-the-ground expertise and planning needed to translate finance into positive impact.

How will USAID involve donor partners, other countries, and the public in the Strategy process?

We know that our new climate strategy will not be successful without critical input and support from USAID partners, and there is a robust external engagement process during which stakeholders can review and synthesize evidence and provide recommendations. Throughout the process, we are holding a series of engagement opportunities and listening sessions with a wide range of stakeholders, including donors, implementing partners, the private sector, and in-country stakeholders. The strategy process will also include a public comment phase in the Fall, at which time anyone will be able to make comments on a draft version.

How will USAID engage voices from local communities throughout the strategy development process and during implementation?

The climate crisis is a global issue that affects everyone. It is critical that our strategy be designed in concert with the communities with which we work hand-in-hand, and reflect input and perspectives from our partners working on the ground. In advance of drafting, we are holding listening sessions with local NGOs, youth activists, community leaders, Indigenous Peoples organizations, and local private sector, among other groups. As we move through this process, we will continue to work through our Missions to further engage local voices in discussions on how we can implement our strategy in a way that builds on their experiences and priorities.

How will USAID engage voices from vulnerable, and historically marginalized communities throughout the strategy development process and during implementation?

Throughout this process, USAID will elevate and integrate key and emerging issues around justice and equity. We know it is critical that our work reflects and elevates voices from the communities in which we work, including increased and active collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, women and girls, youth, and others who face the brunt of the climate crisis, yet have limited access to or influence over decision-making. It is critical that our climate work—and indeed all of our work—reflects and elevates voices from communities in all their diversity, including at the USAID staff level as per principles from USAID’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategy. USAID will also take steps to ensure that climate change activities do not perpetuate inequality or cause or exacerbate stressors of conflict, corruption, or injustice.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 5:45pm

Last updated: April 21, 2022