Background on the AREFS Project

Climate change will greatly impact Asia where around 60% of the world's population lives and three of the world's largest carbon emitters are located. How people, communities, cities, and countries adapt to current and future climatic changes in the face of severe environmental degradation is among the greatest development challenges for the region. Maintaining ecosystem, social and economic resilience in the region is a key priority for adaptation to climate change.  USAID in Asia is addressing climate change under the President's Global Climate Change (GCC) Initiative by working to reduce emissions, protect forests and promote and support adaptation. USAID also has been developing projects in climate mitigation and sustainable landscapes.

To provide adequate and timely field support to USAID Missions and selected partners on climate change adaptation, USAID has launched the two-year Asia Regional Environmental Field Support (AREFS) Project, implemented by International Resources Group (IRG).  The objective of this task order is to provide a resource for Asia Missions and the Regional Office of the Pacific Islands to aid them in the planning, implementation and evaluation of programs to be undertaken under USAID's Global Climate Change Initiative. The task order will be a source of short-term technical assistance on topics such as climate change adaptation, climate change integration within the development portfolio, and climate change monitoring and evaluation including monitoring the impacts of large scale industrial, agricultural and infrastructure development as well as information, guidance and other support for climate change related program and project designs. The task order will provide additional assistance by compiling climate-related statistics and other information and communicating USAID region-wide results through the development of an interactive website.  The website is an online, interactive site to access databases, climate monitoring information and guidance as well as a place to hold discussions, webinars and other knowledge sharing activities. In addition, the website, www.climatechange-asiapac.com will host country pages for each Asia Mission and Pacific island state where USAID has a presence. 

A key component of AREFS technical assistance will be to support USAID Forward efforts in evidence-based programming and monitoring and evaluation. AREFS will work to improve the integration of climate change throughout the USAID Asia Missions’ development portfolios wherever possible. As a result, USAID field missions will have a source of technical field support on an as needed basis. In addition, the Asia Bureau and Pacific Island Regional Office will have a resource through which they can source essential statistics and baseline information to track trends as well as to collate and report back important results from the field. AREFS will work closely with the new Climate Change Resilient Development task order under the Water/Coastal IQC to identify opportunities where that project can provide follow-on support to individual Missions.

IRG is implementing AREFS in collaboration with partners ICF and DevTech.  In addition, IRG can reach out to a large group of resource organizations in the Asia and Pacific regions which have agreed to be part of AREFS climate change adaptation knowledge sharing network.

AREFS Scope of Work

AREFS scope of work consists of four tasks, which will be implemented in an integrated manner.  These are:
• Task 1: Identify and Fill Short-Term Technical Assistance Needs of Asia Operating Units
• Task 2: Monitoring and Evaluation
• Task 3: Monitoring Infrastructure, Extractive Industry and Industrial Agriculture Activities, and
• Task 4: Outreach and Communications

Task 1: Identify and Fill Short-Term Technical Assistance Needs of Asia Operating Units
The overall objective of Task 1 is to improve understanding of climate change impacts and guide USAID programming of adaptation-related objectives. USAID Asia's Operating Units to be covered by this task order include the Asia Bureau, The Regional Development Mission for Asia, the Central Asia Regional Program, bilateral Missions in Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Timor Leste. Activities also will be undertaken in the South Pacific and the Maldives. Operating units will be surveyed for their capacity building and technical assistance needs. AREFS will provide short-term technical assistance at the request of individual missions including, for example, analyses to improve integration of climate change within Mission portfolios.

Task 2: Monitoring and Evaluation. To support evidence-based climate change programming and USAID’s new guidance on monitoring and evaluation, AREFS will implement the following sub-tasks: a) assist missions in implementing the new evaluation policy on the subject matter of climate change and b) conduct a survey of existing research and climate change statistics in order to develop a robust baseline dataset.  Deliverables will include mapping vulnerable populations, ecosystems and infrastructure, statistical trends databases, climate indicators, country climate fact sheets and documentation of innovative policies, pilots and models.

Task 3: Monitoring Infrastructure, Extractive Industry and Industrial Agriculture Activities
Accompanying Asia’s rapid growth is an equally large and rapid development of infrastructure and industrial and large-scale agricultural development, all of which have the potential to reduce Asia's ability to adapt to climate change particularly by reducing the resilience and carbon absorption capacity of its natural ecosystems, especially Asia’s forested lands. The IRG Team will monitor infrastructure, extractive industry and industrial agriculture projects in Asia, starting with a broad overview of the major projects on line and comparing sites with existing protected areas, areas of vital ecosystem services, global biodiversity initiatives and livelihood resources for the poor. Projects also will be assessed from the standpoint of their resilience to climate change impacts.  From the overview and discussions with USAID staff, up to 10 critical sites will be chosen for further monitoring.

Task 4: Outreach and Communications. The IRG Team will develop communications strategies tied to particular stakeholder needs to determine practical outreach tools (e.g. print, electronic, in-Mission “town hall meetings”, webinars, e-TDYs, video, etc.) as well as the best distribution channels (including CDs, DVDs and thumb drives for those who need more portable material). The Team will edit and distribute the reports generated by the implementation of AREFS tasks as well as archiving all materials on the AREFS website which we hope will be an essential tool for fostering two way communication, access to resources and improved technical support to Asia and Pacific operating units.