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The Obama administration not only intends to finance billions in “climate change” projects around the globe, but is increasingly combining weather-related initiatives with social efforts such as “gender equality” and “land rights” in foreign aid projects.
Whereas past climate-centric initiatives under Obama often had cost tens of millions, some of the more recent endeavors individually push closer to the billion-dollar mark.
One project taking a “multidisciplinary approach” is the Nairobi-based Planning for Resilience in East Africa through Policy, Adaptation, Research and Economic Development endeavor. PREPARED will attempt to simultaneously weave solutions together in three primary areas: “Transboundary freshwater biodiversity conservation, improved access to drinking water supply and sanitation services, and increased resiliency to climate change.”
The PREPARED program, for which the U.S. Agency for International Development now is enlisting private contractor participation, acknowledges the difficulty of carrying out such projects in light of conflicting climate data.
A recently released project solicitation says predictions of precipitation levels “are variable and inconsistent,” and consequently scientists face difficulty in knowing “how to interpret these projections and how to use them to guide resource management decisions” in East Africa.
“As such, one of the key challenges that need to be resolved between scientists and decision-makers is the inherent tension between the uncertainty of climate science and the need for action,” according to the document.
The financial scope of the PREPARED initiative – $24 million – is miniscule contrasted to several other projects that Obama through USAID launched in recent months
A $650 million endeavor known as HABITAT – Helping Access Basic Infrastructure Technical Assistance and Training – over five years will attempt to strengthen urban and local governments on an international scale.
Contracts under HABITAT will focus on delivering improved public services such as transportation, water and sanitation, while increasing the “autonomy, transparency, responsiveness and accountability” of recipient governments.
The project at the same time will aim to enhance those entities’ abilities “to adapt to climate change, improve environmental management practices and pollution control systems.”
Both PREPARED and HABITAT require contractors to incorporate gender equality components in their strategic plans.
Contracts potentially peaking at $700 million already have been awarded under a separate USAID program known as Strengthening Tenure and Resource Rights, or STARR. The agency on Aug. 8 released a notice awarding Indefinite Quantity Contracts, or IQCs, to vendors Chemonics International, Cloudburst Consulting Group, Development Alternatives, and Tetra Tech ARD.
USAID over five years will award multiple contracts to the companies for “technical assistance” toward “improving security of property rights and increasing land access” globally.
The STARR Request for Proposals points out that climate change is a critical factor to be considered when addressing land tenure and property rights, or LTPR issues.
Climate change, according to the document, “is accelerating the pace at which land is either abandoned or acquired due to rapid and extreme changes in weather patterns, rising sea levels, and the demand for land to satisfy climate mitigation initiatives.”
Violent struggles over natural and financial resources potentially may emerge from these initiatives, the document continues. Such contentious battles can be avoided only when “local and international stakeholders engage in open and transparent processes to negotiate new rules of access to land and other natural resources.”
Violence in nations such as Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Kyrgyzstan, and Mozambique arose when opportunities for wealth or better living condition were created “without first clarifying and securing resource rights,” it says. In the absence of such clarity, more powerful groups usurp “the rights of others for their own benefit.”
The administration in 2010 embarked upon an umbrella initiative called Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Strategies, or EC-LEDS. Its goal is to partner with 20 countries by next year, and to help those nations reduce emissions and to foster their economic growth.
“EC- LEDS is an important component of the U.S. commitments to mobilize ‘fast-start’ financing of $30 billion by 2012, and it is a ‘High Priority Performance Goal’ for the U.S. Department of State” and USAID, according to the previously mentioned PREPARED project.
Although it is the lead agency for such matters, USAID is co-led by the State Department and is advised by “an interagency team of experts” from various federal entities.
The following is a sampling of other climate change-related endeavors – ranging from the deployment of advisors to partner nations to larger scale projects – that the U.S. government has launched this summer.
The U.S. Navy will spend up to $30 million over five years in the preparation of Navy and Marine Corps environmental planning documents specific to infrastructure and other projects primarily in California. The documents will address resource areas that include climate change and socioeconomics, or “environmental justice,” as the document also calls it.
USAID/Ecuador launched a program titled Accelerating Ecuador’s Readiness to Address Climate Change. The initiative will assist the government of Ecuador in advancing its position “in the international effort to address climate change.” The agency will help it develop a “strategic framework that addresses both reducing emissions… and building more climate resilient natural and human systems.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded a sole-source $300,000 contract to the American Indian Higher Education Consortium to launch the Tribal ecoAmbassadors Program. The pilot project initially will collaborate with tribal colleges and university professors, then will “address specific analysis of environmental issues, which may include climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, air quality, water quality, and waste management.”
The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers awarded a sole-source, no-bid contract worth $23,000 to South Dakota State University to conduct a a Climate Change Study for which it provided little information other than a program title.
The EPA intends to award a sole-source contract to a consortium formed by the Association of Climate Change Officers, The Climate Registry, and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions to hold the 2013 Climate Leadership Awards Program. The event will “recognize organizations and individuals demonstrating exemplary leadership in responding to, and addressing, climate change.” It did not disclose the estimated cost.
The U.S. National Park Service awarded a $23,000 contract to Donald O’Brien of Brookfield, Ill., to produce two 10-minute movies about scientists working on climate change in national parks. NPS said the project’s goal “is to convey the urgency of climate change as seen through the eyes of scientists,” while also “creating the personal bond between the scientist and the viewer by showing the sincerity of researchers and devotion to their work.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of International Research Programs intends to award a sole-source contra to Dr. Sandra Russo to lead a team of Middle Eastern and U.S. researchers on a five-month “gender, water and livelihoods research project.” Russo also will supervise two post-doctoral students on a global Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security project “as well as place a graduate student in a gender and climate change project in Morocco.” The estimated cost was not revealed.
The EPA plans to host a Climate Change Adaptation for Coral Reefs Workshop in Honolulu by September 2013. The 2-5 day event “will explore best practices for ‘mainstreaming’ climate change adaptation principles into coral reef management planning.” It did not disclose the estimated cost.
The National Park Service awarded a $60,000 contract to the organization Dena Nena Henash for its “Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Moose and Other Wildlife and Climate Change in Allakaket/Alatna, Alaska.” No other information is available.
USAID also is looking to hire private contractors to fill positions, for instance, as USAID/Peru Senior Regional Climate Change Advisor, USAID/Bangladesh Senior Low Emission Development Advisor, and USAID/Guatemala Senior Global Climate Change Advisor. Each slot pays up to $110,000 annually.