What does USAID’s procurement process have to do with climate change? Jennifer Norling, the Evaluation Division Chief in the USAID Management Bureau’s Office of Acquisition and Assistance, provides more insight into how the Agency is addressing the climate crisis through procurement activities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, advance community preparation and climate-resilient infrastructure, and improve outcomes for local groups that are disproportionately impacted by environmental changes.
The full article was originally posted on Climatelinks.
Interview: What USAID’s Climate Strategy Means for Procurement
By Jennifer Norling | Climatelinks
April 19, 2023
USAID is transforming the way it addresses the climate crisis, with a 2022-2030 Climate Strategy that calls on all corners of the agency to play a part in a “whole-of-Agency” response. Included in that is an effort to look inward, with the agency committing to strengthen its operations and approaches to programming to address climate change and further climate justice within USAID and its partner organizations.
Jennifer Norling, the Evaluation Division Chief in the USAID Management Bureau’s Office of Acquisition and Assistance, is helping lead USAID’s effort to update its procurement processes in line with the Climate Strategy. Climatelinks sat down with her to hear her thoughts on what this means for USAID and partners.
Question: What does USAID’s procurement have to do with climate change?
Jennifer: We are already seeing climate change affect USAID’s work, from historic droughts exacerbating the global food crisis to floods that left one-third of Pakistan under water. We also know that good development work is climate positive—for example, reducing air pollution means better health outcomes, and building climate-resilient infrastructure means people are safer during disasters.
Because USAID carries out its work through implementing partners, procurement is how USAID defines the work we do on the ground. We must integrate climate change into our procurements so that our activities are not at risk due to climate impacts and they contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, help communities prepare for climate impacts, and improve outcomes from local communities and groups like women and girls that are disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis. Contracting and Agreement Officers play a critical role and I encourage them to be Climate Champions and to help us make sure USAID can achieve our development and humanitarian assistance goals.
Note from interviewer – keep reading for more on how to do just that!
Question: USAID’s Climate Strategy calls for USAID to “transform its workforce, operations, and policies to reduce carbon emissions substantially, adapt to the climate crisis, and further climate justice.” What progress has M/OAA made on this front?
Jennifer: M/OAA has been working to implement the Climate Strategy.
First, we have transformed the way we do business and have fully transitioned to a paperless environment. This has reduced USAID’s environmental impact by an estimated 8,000 pounds of wood, 24,000 gallons of water, and 19,000 pounds of carbon that would have been associated with the printing and scanning involved in previous document transaction processes.
Second, we are working to ensure compliance with sustainability and climate in awards.
We have created training and tools for staff to improve compliance with sustainability clauses in FAR Part 2
We are also working to update the guidance in ADS 204 environmental compliance terms for use in solicitations and awards. The update will include environmental compliance and climate risk management in one document.
This can have a direct impact on our awards by ensuring project specific climate considerations are included as part of the requirements of an award
Third, we are working to ensure climate change is fully considered in activity design. We recently conducted training with the Asia Missions on how A&A Professionals can integrate the Agency’s Climate Strategy into USAID programs. Additionally, we are working with the West Africa region on specific activity designs to ensure climate is thoughtfully integrated into the activity.
Finally, my colleagues in M/OAA Policy have been actively participating on the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council (CAAC) and work with the interagency to support new climate-related regulations and policies currently under consideration. M/OAA Policy represents USAID on the FAR Environmental Council and has been involved in drafting three high-priority FAR cases that deal with environmental issues - and specifically reducing GHG emissions.
Get more information about USAID’s agency-wide response to strengthening operations and approaches to environmental change. Check out other articles on our News & Insights blog, where we share voices from throughout the USAID partner ecosystem.