Adaptive Social Protection: Making concepts a reality

Despite progress in the field of development over recent years, a combination of factors has led to ongoing and worsening poverty in some situations. Social protection has witnessed a rapid rise in popularity on the development policy agenda, and growing empirical evidence shows that it can contribute effectively to poverty reduction whilst also moving people into productive livelihoods. At the same time, climate change and the changing nature of disaster risk are universally understood to have arisen as additional stressors which can exacerbate vulnerability and reinforce poverty. Whilst social protection addresses many of the macroeconomic drivers of poverty, at the moment there is rarely explicit consideration for climate change and disasters, which can similarly place people in a vulnerable state. That said, there is increasing evidence that access to social protection interventions can reduce vulnerability to climate change and disaster risk, by enabling adaptive capacity and providing a greater range of livelihood choices. The term ‘adaptive social protection’ was coined by researchers at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and advisors at the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and recognises that there are opportunities for social protection to be adapted to ensure it also contributes to growth and development that is climate-anddisaster- resilient. In March 2011, the World Bank, DFID, IDS and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNCA), convened a workshop bringing together 120 policymakers, practitioners and researchers from 20 different countries working in the fields of social protection (SP), climate change adaptation (CCA), or disaster risk reduction (DRR). Making Social Protection Work for Pro-poor Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation was a forum for cross-regional learning and exploring the potential synergies that can be generated by the three communities of practice. A conclusion of the discussions was that guidelines are needed to help and foster better integration between social protection, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction (World Bank, 2011). These guidance notes are intended to support this need to translate conceptual linkages into steps for action. This guidance reviews some key concepts, and then provides ‘how to’ advice for social protection policymakers and practitioners to consider climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, and to ultimately make their projects and programmes adaptive.