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Assessing the Role of Microfinance in Fostering Adaptation to Climate Change


  • Shardul Agrawala


  • Maëlis Carraro



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. Une bonne partie du débat sur l’adaptation s’est concentrée sur l’estimation des coûts de l’adaptation, sur les moyens de mobiliser et d’intensifier les ressources financières nécessaires, et sur la conception d’une architecture institutionnelle internationale pour le financement de l’adaptation. Or, les mécanismes existants d’acheminement de ces ressources au niveau infranational, en particulier ceux ciblant les populations démunies qui sont souvent les plus vulnérables aux impacts du changement climatique, n’ont jusqu’à présent guère retenu l’attention. C’est dans ce contexte que la microfinance mérite d’être examinée de plus près. Le présent rapport offre la première évaluation empirique des liens entre les activités soutenues par la microfinance et l’adaptation au changement climatique. Il comporte une analyse des portefeuilles des 22 institutions principales de microfinance dans deux pays vulnérables au changement climatique – le Bangladesh et le Népal – qui doit permettre d’évaluer les synergies et les conflits éventuels entre la microfinance et l’adaptation. Ces deux pays ont déjà fait l’objet d’un examen préalable dans le cadre d’un autre rapport de l’OCDE sur les liens entre l’aide publique au développement au niveau macro-économique et l’adaptation. La présente analyse aborde le financement de l’adaptation selon une perspective « ascendante » complémentaire. Les pays de l’OCDE peuvent également bénéficier des éclaircissements apportés par cette analyse. En effet, la microfinance est également de plus en plus utilisée pour réduire la vulnérabilité des populations démunies dans le contexte national des pays de l’OCDE et pourrait donc être exploiter pour promouvoir l’adaptation. Ce rapport identifie également les domaines dans lesquels la microfinance pourrait être mise à profit pour jouer un rôle plus important dans l’adaptation, ainsi que les limites de ce mode de financement dans ce contexte. Enfin, il examine le lien entre l’approche « descendante » du macrofinancement de l’adaptation au moyen d’instruments financiers internationaux, et les activités ascendantes mises en oeuvre par le biais de la microfinance.

Suggested Citation

  • Shardul Agrawala & Maëlis Carraro, 2010. "Assessing the Role of Microfinance in Fostering Adaptation to Climate Change," OECD Environment Working Papers 15, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:envaaa:15-en

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    References listed on IDEAS

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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).

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    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • 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
    • R51 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Finance in Urban and Rural Economies

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