April 2017: Members of four consortia focused on climate change hot spots have proposed indicators that have a regional scope and complement subnational and national indicators. The indicators are identified as a contribution to achieving the requirements of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

The consortia of the Collaborative Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA) have led the development of the paper, titled ‘Making SDGs Work for Climate Change Hotspots,’ which was published in the journal Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development. The authors are Sylvia Szabo, Robert J. Nicholls, Barbara Neumann, Fabrice G. Renaud, Zoe Matthews, Zita Sebesvari, Amir AghaKouchak, Roger Bales, Corrine Warren Ruktanonchai, Julia Kloos, Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, Philippus Wester, Mark New, Jakob Rhyner, and Craig Hutton.

The hot spots focused on in the paper cut across administrative boundaries, and therefore have limited political representation and are seldom a focus of direct policy action.

CARIAA is a seven-year programme, which is running from 2012-2019. It is funded by Canada’s International Development Research Center (IDRC) and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). CARIAA supports collaborative research by four consortia, each addressing a particular climate change hot spot.

The hot spots focused on in the paper include deltas in Africa and South Asia, semi-arid regions in Africa and parts of Asia, and glacier- and snowpack-dependent river basins in the Himalayas. The authors note that these hotspots cut across administrative boundaries, and therefore have limited political representation and are seldom a focus of direct policy action. As a result, the paper indicates that the current indicator approach “fails to explicitly consider the overall regional risks faced by climate change hotspots that cross political boundaries and require accountability mechanisms at different implementation scales.”

The authors propose using up to five technical indicators to fill gaps with regard to links and synergies between adaptation and resilience to climate change and sustainable development. The proposed indicators focus on measuring environmental impacts for each of the three categories of climate change hotspots.

For delta regions, threats associated with relative sea-level rise should be focused on, for example, such as salinity intrusion, land erosion, increased risk of flooding, and increased incidence of waterborne diseases. In semiarid areas, they suggest using indicators tracking changes in temperature and changes in precipitation. For glacier- and snowpack-dependent river basins, amounts of seasonal snowpacks and glaciers and melting rates are highlighted, inter alia.

For areas with multiple climate change hotspots, the authors propose adopting a combination of relevant indicators. In conclusion, the authors emphasize the need to ensure that the indicators for climate hotspots reflect cross-boundary challenges, and that indicators are monitored beyond national boundaries, given the interconnections among some of the climate hotspots. [Publication: Making SDGs Work for Climate Change Hotspots] [CARIAA Website]