What we’re reading in November: Evaluating Climate policy after COP26

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How evidence from randomized evaluations can inform climate finance at COP26


By the time of COP26, something of a consensus had emerged that the instruments of climate-linked finance would play a pivotal role in the forging of a united response to climate change. With the much-vaunted figure of $100 billion support for developing countries’ having failed to fully materialise, financial issues will undoubtedly take on an even more central and politicised position at COP27 and beyond.  With emotions running high, it is of course essential for evaluators to look at the evidence. Randomised controlled trials famously offer the gold standard of evidence-based research but, as this blog demonstrates, they also permit a more granular and less abstract appreciation of the issues at hand.  In this blog from J-PAL’s King Climate Action Initiative (K-CAI), the outcomes of an RCT focussed on reducing energy consumption demonstrates how climate innovations, which may attract significant funding at the national and international level, can stumble if untested in the field. Reading the studies mentioned in the blog, it is impossible not to feel that a greater degree of consensus could be achieved if more emphasis were placed on such real-world trials and the nuanced analysis they produce.

COP26 pledges: Can the private sector come through for climate action in emerging economies? https://ieg.worldbankgroup.org/blog/cop26-pledges-can-private-sector-come-through-climate-action-emerging-economies 

Amidst the furious negotiations of governments at COP26, the conference followed the example set by its predecessors in apportioning an even greater share of coverage to the private sector. Despite this, the role of the private sector remains as much a question mark as it has for the last decade.  Although few could doubt the momentum behind energy transition in capital markets, many governments and public entities remain sceptical of active cooperation.  This timely blog from the World Bank’s IEG explores the state of such initiatives with a particular focus on emerging economies.  The World Bank is well positioned to comment, with its long history of private sector engagement and having conducted in January of this year an evaluation of its own Approach to the Mobilization of Private Capital for Development.  The report underscores the importance of private investment to key SDGs and the report finds that WB support including loans had a positive effect on its clients’ ability to attract outside funding.  Interestingly, South-South funding is playing a significant and increasing part.  Predictably, the report raises concerns about perennial regulatory and governance issues in emerging economies that stymie opportunities and dim otherwise surging investor appetite. Helpfully, the report also touches on the effect of the pandemic on capital markets and their activities in emerging economies’ climate plans although of course it cannot provide a complete account at this time.  Among the report’s conclusions, which are basically supportive of the existing approach, the most interesting recommend a renewed engagement with institutional investors, the development of niche products targeted at sophisticated investors and a recognition that scaling up will involve expensive trade-offs across financial instruments and platforms.

Making agricultural insurance work for smallholder farmers in the COVID era https://www.3ieimpact.org/blogs/making-agricultural-insurance-work-smallholder-farmers-covid-era 

In the wake of the middling achievements of the COP26 in Glasgow, the monitoring and analysis of sustainable agriculture is once again centre stage.  Erik Solheim, then UN Environment Executive Director, once warned of an “uninsurable world” as the intensifying risks associated with climate change rendered most sectors, foremost agriculture, unable to access insurance.  Since then it has become widely accepted that those places most directly affected will become uninsurable long before they become uninhabitable. This assessment of insurance among farmers is therefore a timely addition. Debates about the difficulty of insuring smallholders in the developing world are not new but this piece gives a useful update for the pandemic era, pointing out the new and acute liabilities facing farmers, the worsening of existing conditions and the shortage of credit that continues to bedevil their lives and businesses.

Understanding the protection of refugee rights during the COVID-19 pandemic https://www.itad.com/article/understanding-the-protection-of-refugee-rights-during-the-covid-19-pandemic 

As with the previous piece, this blog from Itad focussed on the differential impact of COVID on already disadvantaged groups, namely refugees. Since the Second World War and more recently the European migration crisis of 2016, much development aid has been redirected to this critical issue and the use of this blog lies in understanding how the parameters of that support must be updated for the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, a dearth of reliable data on the subject complicates any evaluation process and monitoring has only become more difficult in the pandemic. Probably for that reason, the blog focuses more on the abstract issue of legal and political rights of refugees. The blog is actually a preview of an evaluation Itad has been commissioned to undertake by the COVID-19 Global Evaluation Coalition. In that sense this is more an indication of how the evaluation community is adapting to the pandemic than a thorough exploration of the issue at hand. Nonetheless, it’s a useful demonstration of the encouraging work and ambition of the Global Evaluation Coalition