The Obama administration is attempting to slip in another pricey climate-change initiative before Donald Trump takes office, potentially costing U.S. taxpayers another $90 million if it survives its unveiling – in Asia – next month.
And that’s just the newest attempted infusion of cash to climate-related programs, several of which hang in the balance as the administration continues to review industry bids on separate projects launched in recent months.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, on Dec. 13 released a draft document governing the latest proposed program, which aims to help the region to “mitigate, adapt to, and recover from shocks and stresses caused by climate-induced events.”
USAID Resilient Cities Asia, as the initiative is known, would add yet another layer to the many dozens of U.S.-funded climate-related programs already under way in nearly 50 nations.
The new initiative will complement existing efforts in urban areas across Asia, according to a draft Statement of Work, or SOW, which WND discovered through routine database research.
The program’s particular angle is to provide assistance and services to secondary, rather than primary, Asian cities. Secondary cities typically cannot afford to prepare for and recover from catastrophic events purportedly caused by climate change, the agency says.
The U.S. and other governments, therefore, must help, since “Asia’s secondary cities often lack the human and financial resources, as well as the institutional capacity, to make strategic, climate-resilient investments,” according to the draft SOW.
USAID cited a study pointing to the vulnerability of more than 520 million urban, Asian slum dwellers “to climate related hazards.” The agency said the study estimated that disasters caused by events such as sea-level rise, powerful storms, and flooding are likely to cost more than $50 billion annually.
Three separate Obama policies make possible such climate-resilience efforts in Asia and elsewhere, USAID pointed out:
- Climate Risk Management, which is covered by the White House’s Executive Order on Climate Resilient International Development 16.
- USAID Sustainable Urban Services Policy (2013), which covers assistance to governments in building safer and more sustainable cities for the nearly 1.5 billion additional people who will live in cities by 2030.
- USAID Climate Change and Development Strategy (2012-2016), which aims to enable countries to accelerate their transition to climate resilient, low emission, sustainable economic development.
The agency said it expects to release a formal Request for Proposals, or RFP, for USAID Resilient Cities Asia in early January 2017, but acknowledged that the endeavor remains “subject to internal USAID approvals and the availability of funds.”
If and when a contractor is selected to carry out the USAID Resilient Cities Asia program, that vendor must implement strategies that are “based on the availability and use of credible scientific information,” the agency noted.
Global climate actions 2016
The following is a partial list of other Obama administration climate-change programs that were proposed in 2016 and are slated to be launched outside the U.S.
Though some of the following endeavors already are reviewing bids and letters of interest from contractors, contracts in most of those instances have yet to be awarded. Most of the following initiatives, therefore, have not yet been implemented in those nations, according to a search of the FedBizOpps database.
Enabling the government of Colombia to comply with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the goal of two separate projects in that South American nation, where USAID will pay contractors up to a combined $80 million.
The first endeavor, Solicitation No. SOL514-16-000015, will assist the Colombian government in guiding various industry sectors toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a program RFP.
Despite Colombia’s “strong leadership” on climate change, USAID anticipates commercial and political resistance and subsequent obstacles, thereby subjecting the program to “significant risks.” The estimated cost of paying a contractor to perform these consulting services is $38-$40 million.
“Some influential circles, such as the oil and gas sector or transportation sector, have been, and will continue to, push against mitigation policies and other climate change initiatives,” USAID said.
The other initiative, Solicitation No. SOL-514-16-000024, will help the Colombian government achieve goals specific to climate-change mitigation in agriculture, forestry and other land uses.
The program also will attempt to strengthen “community-based sustainable development initiatives” in areas recovering from Colombia’s decades-long internal conflict, such as those in the high Andean forests and wetlands.
The USAID Páramos and Forests Activity, as this project is named, will support eight other “REDD-plus” (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation”) programs already underway there.
The estimated cost of paying a contractor to perform these separate services also is $38-$40 million.
In Rwanda, a component of USAID’s Feed the Future program will infuse an unspecified amount of dollars into helping Rwandan farmers to “increase the resilience of the agriculture and food systems to the changing climate.”
The agency’s purported goal in this program, known as “Hinga Weze activity,” is to improve the incomes of Rwandan farmers as well as improve nutrition of Rwandan women and children.
USAID says it will accomplish those objectives “through sustainable intensification of Rwandan smallholder farming systems, with specific emphasis on ‘climate smart’ approaches to the agriculture production system.”
The agency currently is reviewing contractor bids to carry out the project. It did not disclose the program’s estimated cost.
In Bangladesh, USAID is enlisting contractor assistance to co-design a system that will improve that nation’s “resilience to the risks posed by climate change and extreme weather events.”
USAID issued a Broad Agency Announcement for the Bangladeshi endeavor, which seeks to combine the efforts of various international donors and the development community “in the collaborative design of new climate solutions.”
USAID/Bangladesh expects to issue a contract award in the Climate Resilient Enterprise and Innovation Design program valued with a top estimate of $10 million.
Separately, USAID this year increased the total estimated cost of a contract awarded to AECOM International Development, which since 2011 has been implementing the Climate Change Adaptation Project Preparation Facility for Asia-Pacific program.
AECOM will receive an additional $2.25 million to train governments in the Asia and Pacific regions to access climate-change adaptation funds and to speed up investments in programs “that increase resilience to the negative impacts of climate change.”
The contract expansion raises the overall cost from the current level of about $17 million to $19.3 million, while extending the performance period through Sept. 26, 2017.
In addition to attempting to launch new climate-change programs worldwide in 2016, USAID sought to hire independent contractors in support of existing programs.
Among nations where the agency sought to deploy these individuals was the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where a Global Climate Change Specialist would be paid $87,263 to $113,444 annually for a two-year assignment.
USAID also sought to hire an Indonesian national as Climate Resilience, Energy and Water Crew Team Leader, to be paid $62,101 to $80,731 annually.
Despite re-issuing solicitations to recruit candidates for the two positions, there are no records available to indicate the agency has filled those slots as of mid-December.