ADB: cover climate change impact in social protection

SOCIAL protection measures must be expanded across Asian countries to include the impact of climate change, according to an expert from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In an Asian Development Blog, ADB Southeast Asia Department Social Sector Specialist Amir Jilani said this is crucial for the region since six of the 10 countries in the world that are most affected by climate change are in Asia.

On average, over 40,000 people in the region are killed annually by storms, floods, and other natural disasters. Women and girls are also 14 times more likely to die in climate-related disasters than men.

“Social protection measures are a necessary tool to build resilience and protect the most vulnerable following climate, health, and socio-economic shocks,” Jilani said.

“They can also play an important climate mitigation role, including through skills training and public works that promote sustainable use of natural resources,” he added.

Turning to “climate-smart” social protection systems will improve the resilience of countries. These social protection measures include hock and weather-indexed insurance schemes.

Further, environmentally-friendly public works programs that provide payments to communities for ecosystem services would also help.

These services include reforestation which could also be a good environmental conservation, climate mitigation, and poverty-reduction tool.

“In the Philippines, an ADB-supported pilot of the graduation approach strengthened household resilience to the pandemic across a range of dimensions including financial security, food security, and mental health,” according to Jilani.

Strengthening social protection, Jilani said, must include efforts to protect those hardest hit by shocks, including climate change. This means covering children, women, older persons, disabled people, and those in the informal sector.

Jilani, however, conceded that this expansion in the coverage of social protection programs entailed some trade-offs and fiscal considerations. But, he said, there was “sufficient evidence” that this will lead to multiplier effects that can benefit the economy.

One such impact would be to enable the poor to recover from shocks quickly as well as prevent them from turning to “adverse coping behaviors.”

“Social protection programs recently demonstrated their critical importance during one of history’s most unprecedented crises. It is time to expand their use to address the impact of climate change on society’s most vulnerable,” Jilani said.

Other efforts to strengthen social protection include the use of digital ID systems and social registries to deliver social protection as well as efforts to undertake poverty, risk, and vulnerability assessments needed in targeting the assistance.

Jilani also underscored the need to strengthen policy coherence, coordination, and collaboration among social protection, climate change, disaster risk management, and humanitarian response actors.