USAID launches new Climate Change and Development Strategy for 2012-2016

by Cristina Tirado

The Center for Public Health and Climate Change at the Public Health Institute (PHI) congratulates the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for its new Climate Change and Development Strategy.

The goal of the Climate Change and Development Strategy is to enable countries to accelerate their transition to climate resilient, low-emission and sustainable economic development.  The strategy presents the strategic objectives that USAID will pursue to accomplish this, provides guiding principles to inform climate change programs, and presents a roadmap for implementation that highlights the critical steps needed for integration.

The strategy’s foreword highlights that increased incidence of flooding and drought, saltwater intrusion into drinking water sources, and the migration of disease vectors into new areas will affect public health by undermining access to clean water and sanitation, undercutting nutritional gains, and changing disease distribution patterns and prevalence.

Under the strategic objective of increasing resilience of people, places, and livelihoods through investments in adaptation, USAID commits to helping countries that are most vulnerable to climate change. Specifically, USAID will help these countries address challenges in areas such as basic health and water services, agricultural systems, urban planning, and natural resources management, among others.

Some of the strategy’s guiding principles, which could indirectly contribute to achieving health objectives, refer to the importance of: i) strengthening civil society and engaging a full range of stakeholders, ii) responding to partner country priorities and needs, iii) making choices to minimize impacts while maximizing development benefits, iv) promoting conflict sensitive programming, v) using gender-sensitive approaches and engaging youth, and vi) valuing ecosystem services.

The new strategy reflects USAID’s serious policy commitment to place climate change at the center of its development agenda and its willingness to integrate a focus on climate change across USAID’s development portfolio. The strategy highlights opportunities for improved integration in key areas such as food security, health, water and sanitation, human rights, disaster risk reduction, and biodiversity. It also recognizes the importance of joint adaptation and mitigation efforts.

The Center for Public Health and Climate Change at PHI has been educating and advocating around the importance of addressing climate change’s impact on health, food and nutrition security, and gender equity in an integrated way. We welcome this new strategy.  It is a critical step towards climate resilient development and sends a clear message to the world about the Obama Administration’s commitment to invest in our future today.

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