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Assessing the Role of Microfinance in Fostering Adaptation to Climate Change


  • Shardul Agrawala

    (OECD Environment Directorate)

  • Maëlis Carraro

    (OECD Environment Directorate)


Much of the current policy debate on adaptation to climate change has focussed on estimation of adaptation costs, ways to raise and to scale-up funding for adaptation, and the design of the international institutional architecture for adaptation financing. There is however little or no emphasis so far on actual delivery mechanisms to channel these resources at the sub-national level, particularly to target the poor who are also often the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. It is in this context that microfinance merits a closer look. This paper offers the first empirical assessment of the linkages between microfinance supported activities and adaptation to climate change. Specifically, the lending portfolios of the 22 leading microfinance institutions in two climate vulnerable countries – Bangladesh and Nepal - are analysed to assess the synergies and potential conflicts between microfinance and adaptation. The two countries had also been previously examined as part of an earlier OECD report on the links between macro-level Official Development Assistance and adaptation. This analysis provides a complementary “bottom-up” perspective on financing for adaptation. Insights from this analysis also have implications for OECD countries. This is because microfinance is also being increasingly tapped to reduce the vulnerability of the poor in domestic OECD contexts as well and may therefore have the potential to contribute to adaptation. The paper identifies areas of opportunity where microfinance could be harnessed to play a greater role in fostering adaptation, as well as its limitations in this context. It also explores the linkage between the top-down macro-financing for adaptation through international financial mechanisms and the bottom-up activities that can be implemented through microfinance.

Suggested Citation

  • Shardul Agrawala & Maëlis Carraro, 2010. "Assessing the Role of Microfinance in Fostering Adaptation to Climate Change," Working Papers 2010.82, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2010.82

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    Cited by:

    1. Fenton, Adrian & Paavola, Jouni & Tallontire, Anne, 2017. "The Role of Microfinance in Household Livelihood Adaptation in Satkhira District, Southwest Bangladesh," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 192-202.
    2. Rafael Moser & Davide Forcella & Lauro Emilio Gonzales Farias, 2016. "Microfinance and climate change: threats and opportunities, the case of Brazil’s largest rural MFIs, Agroamigo and Cresol," Working Papers CEB 16-010, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    3. Davide Forcella & Rafael Moser & Lauro Emilio Gonzales Farias, 2016. "Rural Microfinance and Climate Change: Geographical Credits Allocation and Vulnerability. An Analysis of Agroamigo in Brazil’s Northeastern States," Working Papers CEB 16-011, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    4. Heuson, Clemens & Gawel, Erik & Gebhardt, Oliver & Hansjürgens, Bernd & Lehmann, Paul & Meyer, Volker & Schwarze, Reimund, 2012. "Ökonomische Grundfragen der Klimaanpassung: Umrisse eines neuen Forschungsprogramms," UFZ Reports 02/2012, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ).

    More about this item


    Microfinance; Climate Change; Financing; Adaptation; Bangladesh; Nepal;

    JEL classification:

    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • R51 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Finance in Urban and Rural Economies

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