Saturday, November 19, 2011

Apply scientific rigour to climate change aid decisions

Randy Shore in the Vancouver Sun: As the world prepares to unleash a $100-billiona-year tsunami of climate change aid on the developing world, three academics at the University of British Columbia have set the table for a rational discussion about how to spend the money.

In an article published Thursday by the high-profile publication Science, Simon Donner, Milind Kandlikar and Hisham Zerriffi argue that the world must learn from the waste and misappropriation that has characterized much of the history of foreign aid and apply scientific standards to decision-making about project funding.

"Why can't we look at these things scientifically and use randomized trials to compare different projects and different initiatives and figure out which ones are most effective?" asked Donner, who specializes in climate science. Donner et al. suggest in Preparing to Manage Climate Change Financing that science-based decision-making can help strip away some of the biases that shape foreign aid projects.

International development banks like projects like dams and seawalls, Donner said. But simply planting native species on sensitive lands in some cases is more effective at controlling climate-related events such as soil erosion or flooding at a fraction of the cost....

Sea Wall at Burnham on Sea, shot by Sarah Charlesworth, Wikimedia Commons via Geograph UK, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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