Skip navigation

COP and the SDGs: Why stable and transparent institutions are crucial for climate action

Banner image

Our final post in a series exploring how climate change relates to all of the SDGs

Through our Climate and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) series, we have been looking at how climate change closely interacts and impacts various other areas, such as gender issues, food security, and resilience of cities. During COP24, when climate change experts and decision makers met to discuss how to boost climate action, it’s imperative they also consider these wider development issues.

Read all our news and views from COP24

In the last posts of the series, our experts look at how climate change can exacerbate tensions in conflict situations and what role can private sector play in tackling climate change.  

Fragile and conflict-affected states have been on the agenda at COP24, with Michelle Winthrop (the climate change policy lead in the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) saying that many organisations overlook the significance of conflict, security, and violence in relation to climate concerns,. A representative from the World Bank, Bernice Von Brokhorst, added that we must be cognisant of the difficulties of getting climate-related support to those who need it.

SDG 16: Peace, justice, and strong institutions

Senior consultant in our Conflict, Security, and Violence team Michelle Spearing explores how climate change impacts life in fragile countries.

In many countries, high state fragility and extreme climate vulnerability converge, including Sudan, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, and the Central African Republic. South Sudan and Somalia don’t always appear in official lists because climate vulnerability data is unavailable, which highlights one key reason why addressing conflict and state fragility is crucial to combating climate change. If a state can’t accurately assess the extent of climate changes and its impacts, what hope is there that they can support mitigation or adaptation? In conflict-affected and fragile states, insecurity, weak government capacity, poor infrastructure, inaccessibility of key areas, and even breakdowns in education all hamper efforts to address climate change nationally, as well as undermine the capacity of some of the most affected states to participate in global initiatives. Ensuring progress on SDG 16 increases the likelihood that climate-vulnerable states will be able to respond to the climate-related needs of their own populations and work together with the international community to address a challenge that needs coordinated regional and global responses.

At the same time, climate change can complicate the achievement of SDG 16 in fragile states. It is increasingly accepted that the impacts of climate change can exacerbate conflict. With many conflict-affected and fragile states in regions which are likely to become hotter, drier, and less climatically predicable - such as the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, and the Middle East - the risks are high. In these regions, the vulnerabilities posed by natural geographic characteristics, such as arid and semi-arid rangelands, are likely to be exacerbated by limited capacities from household and community level to governmental institutions. Reliance on climate-sensitive economic sectors, histories of conflict, and high rates of poverty and inequality are likely to further compound the impacts of climate change. Climate-driven migration and competition for resources are also potential drivers of recurrent or new forms of conflict between communities, as well as potentially between states where resources and borders are shared.

We seek to ensure conflict sensitivity across our programmes through analysis of the potential impacts of policies and programmes on conflict, adaptation to minimise potential negative impacts, and design of elements to directly address drivers of conflict and contribute to peace. Given the complex interactions of climate-change impacts, conflict, and fragility this approach to addressing conflict is essential to efforts to address climate change in fragile and conflict-affected states.

SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals

Vanessa Fullerton, a consultant in our Public Sector Governance team, discusses how public private partnerships can boost the achievement of SDGs. 

Public private partnerships (PPPs) continue to show promise as a mechanism for achieving SDGs. Goal 17 recognises the importance of unlocking the financial resources of the private sector in order to fulfil the sustainable development objectives of the public sector: PPPs are an important way of operationalising this.

A PPP involves a degree of delegation of public service or asset provision by a government to a private party. It is a long-term arrangement in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility, with payment linked to performance. Properly designed and implemented, PPPs can allow for enhanced service provision by governments and successful PPPs achieve alignment of public and private interests. Crucially, PPPs can mobilise financing for projects which might otherwise be out of the government’s financial reach, and also allow governments to take advantage of private sector efficiencies.

Clean energy is an area where PPPs are already having particularly substantial impact. The price of renewable energy in parts of Africa has dropped considerably in recent years, thanks in part to private participation.

Discover other posts in our Climate and the SDGs series – focusing on eliminating poverty, zero hunger, and good healthquality education, gender equality, and clean water and sanitationaffordable energy, economic growth, and innovation; reducing inequalities, sustainable cities, and responsible consumption; and climate action, marine life, and sustainable forestry