As climate impacts spread, Pact integrates environment programming across sectors

MESTI Indonesia
In Indonesia, Pact is supporting sustainable shrimp aquaculture and alternative livelihoods in East Kalimantan, and working to improve mangrove conservation through sustainable aquaculture. Credit: Brian Clark/Pact

It is difficult to overstate how wide ranging the effects of climate change are becoming among communities that we serve in global development. In my role leading Pact’s sustainable markets portfolio, I see it daily. 

Climate-related disasters disrupt local economies, agricultural production and supply chains, leading to lost income, food insecurity and economic instability. Climate change contributes to the spread of vector-borne diseases, heat-related illnesses and malnutrition, posing significant health risks to communities, especially in regions with limited access to health care services and sanitation infrastructure. This exacerbates existing vulnerabilities, particularly among marginalized populations such as small-scale farmers and indigenous communities. These groups often lack resources and adaptive capacity to cope.

This breadth and depth of impacts is exactly why, more and more, Pact is integrating climate and environmental considerations across our programming, in sectors from livelihoods to governance to health. We believe firmly that to meet climate change’s challenges, we must incorporate comprehensive strategies into development planning, policy-making and community engagement processes. 

Climate-smart food supplies, livelihoods and more
Pact incorporates climate-smart practices to help communities adapt to changing environmental conditions that affect agriculture. This includes promoting sustainable harvesting techniques that conserve water, mitigate soil erosion and increase resilience to droughts or irregular rainfall patterns. 

We also integrate climate and environment considerations into livelihood diversification initiatives, particularly in natural resource-dependent communities. For instance, in areas where deforestation threatens ecosystems and livelihoods, Pact collaborates with communities to promote sustainable land management practices and alternative income-generating activities such as agroforestry, eco-tourism or handicraft production. By diversifying livelihood options while simultaneously conserving natural resources, Pact helps reduce communities' vulnerability to climate-related risks while preserving the ecological integrity of their environments.

In our USAID Hay Tao project, we helped protect Madagascar’s unique biodiversity through improved natural capital valuation and protected areas management, promotion of climate-resilient livelihoods to provide alternatives to unsustainable natural resource management practices, and concrete actions to secure effective local management and ownership of natural resources. USAID Hay Tao supported the government of Madagascar to adapt policies and strategies to the realities of climate change and identified and disseminated best practices related to community-based natural resource management and climate-resilient livelihoods.

In our MESTI project in Indonesia, we are supporting sustainable shrimp aquaculture and alternative livelihoods in East Kalimantan, and working to improve mangrove conservation through sustainable aquaculture. We work with shrimp farmers to develop business capacities, enabling sustainability certifications and promoting opportunities for productive use of renewable energy in local communities, such as cold storage for shrimp, processing fish and shrimp, and packaging products.

In the area of health, in Zimbabwe, we conducted climate change vulnerability assessments to help local communities understand and address the underlying causes of climate change issues and how they are impacting the health of orphans and vulnerable children, especially those living with HIV. 

We are also exploring approaches for strengthening climate resilience in health that are informed by other sectors. For example, in Malawi, based on a climate change vulnerability assessment, Pact’s USAID-funded REFRESH project supported the development of climate-smart technologies in the artisanal fish processing industry, including solar tent driers and improved cookstoves. Similar practices could be harnessed for health facilities for needs such as autoclaves.  

In a wider sense, incorporating climate and environmental considerations into sectoral programming promotes sustainable development by ensuring that interventions are environmentally sound, socially inclusive and economically viable over the long term.

From communities' perspectives, integration makes sense because communities do not live their lives in siloes. Holistic approaches acknowledge the reality of climate change and its impact on communities’ daily lives. By integrating climate, environment and clean energy considerations into development programming, communities can actively participate in building resilience and adapting to changing conditions without prioritizing health over livelihoods or food security. 

By focusing on community empowerment, knowledge-sharing and collaboration, we can support communities in building adaptive capacity, promoting sustainable development and safeguarding the well-being of present and future generations in the face of climate change.