Three new papers highlight the diversity of approaches and themes covered in the FCFA project UMFULA and strong alignment with key themes promoted in the newly published IPCC Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) – ‘Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’. The Summary for Policymakers emphasizes interdependencies between human societies and climate, biodiversity and ecosystems and the importance of non-climatic global development trends such as land and ecosystem degradation and unsustainable consumption of natural resources. To accelerate adaptation the report identifies, among other things, a need for removing barriers to accessing finance particularly for the most vulnerable and lists insurance alongside other public and private finance instruments as adaptation enablers.
The first paper, led by Ajay Bhave (Newcastle University), presents insights from ‘Stress-testing development pathways under a changing climate: water-energy-food security in the Lake Malawi-Shire River system’. The work shows that ambitious irrigation expansion in the Lake Malawi catchments could enhance the risk of very low lake levels and risk to Shire River hydropower and irrigation infrastructure performance. Improved regulation of lake outflows through the upgraded barrage offers some risk mitigation, but trade-offs emerge between lake level management and downstream water-energy-food sector requirements.
The second paper led by Christian Siderius (Grantham Research Institute, LSE and Uncharted Waters) is titled ‘Water conservation can reduce future water-energy-food-environment trade-offs in a medium-sized African river basin’. It presents a novel approach to assessing the financial feasibility of introducing water conservation measures to reduce trade-offs that will emerge due to rapid expansion of hydropower and irrigation together with environmental uses of water in the Rufiji River basin, Tanzania. The cost of water conservation measures is found to be higher than the value of most uses of water for agriculture and the median value for hydropower generation and lower than the ecosystem value. Nevertheless, the volume of additional water required to supply planned irrigation expansion in the basin could be reduced substantially by using selected water conservation methods that would be financially viable hence reducing potential trade-offs between use of water for hydropower and ecosystem services.
The third paper led by Swenja Surminski (Grantham Research Institute, LSE) asks ‘Can insurance catalyse government planning on climate?’ Their findings show that while insurers can produce information to support adaptation if it is accessible and useable, perverse incentives and lack of risk ownership can discourage wider use of risk information. Government capacity building is needed to increase awareness of the benefits and uses of climate risk information and insurers need to balance competitive advantage with strategic gains and social benefit with regards to data sharing.
Bhave, A.G., Conway, D., Dessai, S., Dougill, A.J. and Mkwambisi, D. (2022) Stress-testing development pathways under a changing climate: water-energy-food security in the Lake Malawi-Shire River system. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. 380: 20210134. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2021.0134
Siderius, C., Kashaigili, J., Biemans, H. and Conway, D. (2022) Water conservation can reduce future water-energy-food-environment trade-offs in a medium-sized African river basin. Agricultural Water Management 266, 107548. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2022.107548
Surminski, S., Barnes, J., & Vincent, K. (2022) Can insurance catalyse government planning on climate? Emergent evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa. World Development 153, 105830. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2022.105830