Day 1 – SAM – Climate Adaptation and Microfinance

Contrary to media headlines, there is a lot of good news in the development community. Extreme Poverty continues to decline (albeit at a slowing rate), literacy continue to improve, and equality is increasingly enshrined in law. Yet this progress leaves the failure on Goal 2, No Hunger, even more striking. Since 2015, the number of people in the world going hungry has actually risen and now stands at one in every nine people.

As well as the ever-increasing global population, there are several factors which are causing this problem, among them conflicts and the climate emergency. The ever more noticeable impact stemming from the climate emergency lead me to attend a workshop on climate adaptation on my first day at the SAM.

Talking to participants at the workshop, directors of microfinance institutions across Africa, many were noticing negative impacts from the climate emergency on their clients. Extreme weather events and the unpredictability of rains was notably impacting those in agricultural areas. The realisation that financial products were needed to help their clients adapt to these changing conditions was clear.

Yet, getting on to implementing climate adaptation measures was more of a challenge and this was where the workshop really stood out. Over the course of the day, we spent a lot of time discussing internal and external measures which could be taken.

These could all be adapted depending on the dynamics of the individual institutions. Measures from providing drought resistance crops, to ensuring that insurance products were integrated were all discussed. Yet certain measures were relevant to all institutions: ensuring that management structures are in place to measure environmental issues and reporting regularly on them, looking at practices inside headquarters and branches (recycling, energy use…) are things everyone across the world can do.

There is nothing like crossing the Sahara and seeing the encroaching desertification occurring in the Sahel to make you realise how pressing the problem of climate change is. It was good to reinforce that every institution, large or small, has its responsibility and by working together, perhaps Goal 2 will begin to see the progress that the other socially focused SDGs have seen.