Environmental Incentives at COP 26 Partnering with mission-driven champions to meet the climate imperative

Living our values of environmental improvement, stewardship, and enduring change

Meeting the Climate Imperative

Climate change is a massive stress impacting communities around the globe, so while the stress may be shared, the response has to be local. As a mission-driven consultancy, we are compelled to address the climate imperative by enabling key stakeholders to align incentives and increase local capacity to enhance the environment that sustains healthy communities.

We’re honored to have the opportunity to attend the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. Environmental Incentives representatives will join the conversations at COP26 to help shape outcomes for human and natural communities. We look forward to helping donors and practitioners achieve their vision for impact and address the climate imperative as the global policy framework progresses.

Making the Climate Connection in Our Work

Scaling and Accelerating Learning About What Works

Strategic Communications and Knowledge Management: Climatelinks

Environmental Incentives uses strategic communications to facilitate learning from experience by decision makers and stakeholders in the environment and energy sectors. As the communications and knowledge management lead for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Sharing Environment and Energy Knowledge activity, the Environmental Incentives team manages the Climatelinks website, which helps more than 20,000 visitors access up-to-date knowledge to inform climate-smart decisions each month.

Environmental Incentives worked with the USAID's Office of Global Climate Change to focus on the learning needs of end users in managing the Climatelinks platform. Our approach amplifies key messages and emerging knowledge, links content to the information needs of site visitors, and curates content to continuously grow and engage a vibrant community of practice. In the first year our team managed the site Climatelinks experienced 85% growth in users and a more than 56% increase in page views. In the same period, organic traffic (i.e., users arriving by way of a Google or a similar search engine) increased by 94%, and downloads of Climatelinks resources increased by 75%.

EI is ready to help USAID implement its new Climate Strategy by making Climatelinks a key tool in extending the reach of new knowledge, facilitating engagement with stakeholders across the sector, and scaling and accelerating uptake of knowledge about what works to meet the climate imperative. Learn more about the role of knowledge management in environmental solutions here.

Increasing Effectiveness of Private Sector Engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean

Collaboration between stakeholders from the public and private sectors is essential to accelerating progress to achieve global climate goals. To reach global net zero, the private sector must contribute both funding and its unique strengths, including agility, links to markets, and customer focus. However, information on the effectiveness of private sector engagement in environment programming is scarce and many public sector actors struggle to determine when and how to collaborate with the private sector for better long-term outcomes.

To help USAID scale learning about private sector engagement, Environmental Incentives developed and launched a collaborative Private-Sector Engagement Learning Group in the Latin America and Caribbean region. EI facilitates implementation of the learning agenda for this vibrant community of practice that helps USAID experts from 14 countries around the region test new ideas and plan for, learn about, and adapt their engagements with the private sector. EI and USAID are developing case studies to better understand and communicate the social, environmental, and economic impacts of private sector engagement on USAID’s natural resource projects, including those that address the climate crisis through communal forest management, the sale of carbon credits, and mangrove conservation. By compiling and sharing this evidence, the learning group is helping stakeholders across sectors understand how to collaboratively maximize impact as they fight the climate crisis.

Tackling the Wildlife Crime Crisis: Scaling Learning Across Regions

With wildlife crime and trafficking fueling the biodiversity crisis around the world, USAID recognized a need to help its missions and implementing partners quickly understand and share the most effective interventions to stem loss of wildlife. EI partnered with USAID’s Biodiversity Division to create “Measuring Efforts to Reduce Wildlife Crime: A Toolkit for Action and Accountability.” Comprising ten commonly used theories of change and associated key results and indicators, the toolkit supports program design and measurement. The toolkit has been used across USAID to harmonize evidence-based learning at multiple levels – within activities, across activities within a project or region, from activity to project, and within a portfolio. In 2016 in an audit of combating wildlife trafficking funding, the GAO specifically praised this toolkit as a significantly positive effort to bring accountability to various agencies receiving these funds.

Strengthening Evidence-Driven Decision-Making

The Social Cost of Carbon: The Economics of Natural Capital in East Africa

All sectors of society – government, business, and civil society – need to work together to accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis. Through support from USAID Kenya East Africa, EI is helping the East African Community and its member countries make decisions to leverage the value of the region's natural capital. East Africa’s iconic landscapes and the communities that depend on them are facing the devastating impacts of climate change, from over extraction of resources and land-use changes. Through a collaborative process facilitated by EI, stakeholders identified four transboundary areas whose natural capital provides significant benefit to the communities, ecosystems, and economies of the six surrounding countries. These landscapes contain wildlife densities that are three times greater than the global average for areas of that size and provide a staggering $10.9 billion in economic value annually to the region through provisioning and regulating services.

The four landscapes cross political boundaries, meaning collaborative approaches are critical to identifying and implementing interventions that will slow wildlife population decline and habitat loss. The political and strategic path forward can be cloudy without shared vision, evidence base, metrics, and forum for collaboration. Through USAID's Economics of Natural Capital in East Africa contract, EI and our partners in the East African Community and its member states are helping strategic decision-makers generate, share, and use actionable evidence to advance transboundary natural resource management and conservation.

The project recently released Protecting East Africa's Natural Capital - The Cost of Inaction, the first ever landscape-level assessment of ecosystem services in East Africa. The study includes a valuation of the social cost of carbon, an estimate of the damages that would be incurred by emitting one additional ton of carbon into the atmosphere today. This provides communities and policymakers with the evidence to make informed decisions about land use, private sector engagement, and nature-based solutions to the climate challenge.

Learn more about protecting natural capital in a changing climate here.

Supporting Resilience in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean

Eastern and Southern Caribbean (ESC) countries are on the front lines of the climate crisis, experiencing some of the most severe impacts of climate change, ranging from prolonged periods of drought to increasingly strong tropical storms and hurricanes. These challenges are taking a toll on the region’s economic growth and health outcomes, which particularly affect vulnerable groups, including women and children, and are further compounded by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the U.S. Government’s reentry into the Paris Agreement, the USAID ESC Mission hosted a virtual Climate Change Symposium in June 2021, convening regional stakeholders and experts to share their experiences and identify climate action priorities in preparation for COP26. Environmental Incentives partnered with USAID/ESC to plan and facilitate this event.

Over the course of three weeks and eight sessions, USAID and EI convened climate scientists, youth activists, funders, United Nations representatives, public health experts, regional policymakers, USAID Mission staff, and others to outline impacts of climate change on nearly all facets of life in the Caribbean, share current and planned initiatives including funding and insurance mechanisms, highlight youth perspectives and engagement, and provide recommendations for future climate action. The resulting report includes key takeaways from each session providing regional stakeholders with actionable evidence to inform decision-making and scale learning about how to meet the climate imperative.

Facilitating Collective Action and Stakeholder Engagement

The Lake Tahoe Clarity Crediting Program

Work in the climate space requires coordinated, collaborative programs. EI helps clients align incentives, generate shared learning, and effectively engage stakeholders to create a common vision around a complex problem, thereby making the controversial collaborative. In the early 2000s water quality regulators in California and Nevada were struggling to reduce the pollutant load in Lake Tahoe. With distributed pollutant sources, dozens of government entities, complex stakeholder dynamics, and conflict between regulators and local actors, the path forward was unclear.

Environmental Incentives led the process for stakeholders to come together and define regional strategies to reduce the input of pollutants that were causing the decline in clarity of this iconic lake. In partnership with the Water Board in California and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, EI developed the Lake Clarity Crediting Program, which was formally adopted in 2011. The program tracks the reduction of pollutants entering the lake resulting from actions taken by municipalities, highway departments, and private property owners. Lake Clarity Credits can be shared and traded among jurisdictions to meet pollutant reduction targets, enabling program implementers and regional funders to cooperate on projects and prioritize the most cost-effective actions. The program provides the structure to compare the efficacy of pollutant source control practices, such as street sweeping, to be compared to capital improvement projects, and provides a mechanism to ensure projects are maintained in functional condition. Now in its 10th year of operation, the program has reduced the conflict between regulators and permittees, and the number of Lake Clarity Credits is exceeding aspirational targets.

Supporting a Healthy Amazon Basin

Protecting the Amazon is critical to keeping 1.5 degrees within reach. The forests of the Amazon - the lungs of the world - and the communities that rely on them face escalating and complex threats, including climate change, illegal deforestation, and economic pressure. The region is home to 60% of the world's remaining rainforests, one-third of all known plant and animal species, and 33 million people.

To advance the most effective conservation and adaptation programs, USAID asked Environmental Incentives to facilitate development of a shared vision to describe, guide, and measure USAID's investments and conservation impact at a regional scale. The Amazon Vision positions USAID to seek locally sustained results, leverage external funding, build local capacities, accelerate enterprise-driven development, and respond to priorities set forth around regional cooperation. To help USAID and its regional partners create and implement the Amazon Vision EI facilitated strategic planning, supported the design of activities and monitoring and learning systems, developed collaborative learning groups, and shared progress with key audiences in government, civil society, and the development community. Read more in the 2020 Amazon Vision Report.

Water-Smart San Diego: Water Rebates and Incentives

The climate has already changed and created devastating impacts on the environment and communities. Existing infrastructure systems must be adapted to enhance the resilience of communities and the natural systems they depend on. Facing increasingly dire droughts and wild-fires that reduce and strain water resources, the County of San Diego and its water supply agency entered a five-year partnership to offer new and increased rebates to motivate residents, businesses, and farmers to adopt water-smart adaptive behaviors. The San Diego Waterscape Rebates Program offers rebates for individual actions that help stretch limited water supplies and keep waterways clean, such as installing sustainable landscaping or harvesting rainwater. When individuals change behavior at scale, this collective action can make a measurable impact on water resources.

Environmental Incentives coordinated this innovative partnership between various municipal agencies to co-fund these multibenefit projects and scale program delivery with new resources. EI is currently working with the San Diego community to design and implement a program that can motivate large numbers of property owners to act. To increase project implementation and better meet stakeholder needs, Environmental Incentives and partners are leveraging a human-centered design approach to test prototype rebate offerings and messaging with property owners and adapt based on user feedback prior to scaling successful elements.

Snapshots from COP26

Highlights of the first week at COP26 including President Biden announcing the First Movers Coalition, US Climate Envoy John Kerry launching the Plan to Conserve Global Forests and Critical Carbon Sinks, and a panel on integrating gender in climate change programming hosted by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network.

EI Voices

Climate change is a global challenge experienced in local contexts. Each of us has an individual connection to our work and story of how we can rise to meet the current moment. Hear some of our team members' perspectives in the videos below.


Created with images by DisobeyArt - "Group of demonstrators on road, young people from different culture and race fight for climate change - Global warming and enviroment concept - Focus on banners" • spicerae2015 - "lake tahoe island"