LoCAL helps Communities Adapt to Global Warming
  • January 10, 2012

The government of Bhutan announced in October 2010 it would host the pilot programme  to test LoCAL, UNCDF’s new initiative to help communities respond to threats posed by global warming.

The Local Climate Adaptive Living Facility, or LoCAL, will provide capital to municipal governments in LDCs, enabling them to develop and invest in plans of action designed to mitigate the effects of climate change and natural disasters.

LoCAL is a fusion of UNCDF’s expertise in local financing (investment, fiscal decentralization, public financial management, and procurement), and UNDP and UNEP’s experience in capacity building for climate and disaster resilience. The effort will build on UNCDF’s existing financial support to local capital development.

This effort is based on the principle that local government has the responsibility, as well as comparative advantage, to incorporate climate adaptation concerns in their planning and delivery of infrastructure and services at the local level. Central authorities often lack the mandate or experience to define and implement effective local strategies, to the frustration of local governments.

The programme works by applying information from vulnerability assessments to mainstream planning process, to better generate a holistic local response within the existing investment portfolio of the local government, then calculating the additional costs of investing in new resilience measures. UNCDF can provide top-off grants to meet the incremental costs from within the local government financing system. LoCAL has a very low overhead and does not require a parallel system of project preparation, evaluation or financing mechanisms. A designated board will certify the incremental cost calculations.

Some strategies can be relatively simple to implement, yet yield significant results.

For example, landlocked Bhutan is laced by rivers that rise each spring with an ever swelling cascade of glacial meltwater. In October 2010, the Minister of Forestry and Environment and the head of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Commission, which handles national planning, announced at the UNCDF Global Forum on Local Development, in Kampala, that it will use LoCAL resources to undertake a variety of programmes to adapt to climate change: improve drainage to protect villages and preserve farmland, harvest rainwater to provide water in the dry seasons and strengthen irrigation on its steep valley walls; improve road design to keep remote areas accessible for travel and trade; and even protect the habitat of the Black Necked Crane.

Preparatory work is already underway for programmes in Cambodia and Vietnam, efforts that will be undertaken with the Rockefeller Foundation and the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN).