The DRC is amongst the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change, and is the fifth least ready country in the world to address its impacts . In addition, for the first time, UNICEF ranked countries based on children’s exposure and vulnerability to climate and environmental shocks, with Congolese children being the world’s ninth most vulnerable .
Projected climate changes in the DRC include: a temperature increase of 1–2.5°C by 2050, an increase in the frequency of intense rainfall events and prolonged dry spells, and possible decreases in rainfall during the dry seasons (June-August, and September-November) in the southern region of the country by 2050 . In the coastal area of the country, sea level is expected to rise by 60-70cm by 2080, exacerbating coastal erosion and water scarcity .
As DRC is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, adaptation should be a key concern and priority for the country. Increasing rainfall and droughts will hamper agricultural productivity as well as the hydropower industry, both of which are key to DRC’s economy. Heavy rainfall will cause floods, landslides and foster waterborne diseases, which will likely claim human lives .
Agriculture is a central engine of DRC’s economy and the primary source of livelihood for 95% of the population. The main staple crops in DRC include cassava and maize, both of which will be affected by climate change. Rising temperatures will increase the risk of the cassava mosaic virus and other diseases. Maize yields will decrease in all of the country (except western regions); in the southern part of Kivu province, a loss of 0-25% is expected . Coffee, an important cash crops in DRC, is expected to decrease in yields due to increased temperature (with increase in berry bore and other pests that are well adapted to higher temperatures) and increased humidity (leading to fungi and insect attacks) .
The abundance of surface water resources makes hydropower a promising source of much-needed electricity for DRC – potentially increasing capacity to an estimated 100,000 MW (current installed capacity from all sources is 2,677 MW). However, the changing characteristics of annual and seasonal precipitation in the region will alter surface flows and may affect the stability of hydropower production in the country .
The DRC’s contribution to global GHG emissions is only 0.08%.
Although DRC’s contribution to global GHGs is small, the DRC’s emissions are increasing. Between 1990 and 2014, GHG emissions in DRC rose by 2% . In 2014, DRC’s emissions came mostly from land-use change and forestry (LUCF), which made up 80.1% of total emissions. This was followed by agriculture (9.0%), where the burning of savanna contributed to 83% of agricultural emissions. Energy, waste and industrial processes contributed 5.5%, 5.4%, and 0.1% of total emissions, respectively .
Key policies and governance approach
The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MEDD), through the Directorate of Sustainable Development (DDD), is responsible for coordinating and monitoring the harmonious coherent implementation of the government in the area of climate change. A National Climate Change Committee, under the supervision of the Secretary General at Environment and Sustainable Development, provides the main orientations for the implementation of programs and projects related to climate change .
For several years, the DRC has worked on addressing its vulnerabilities to climate change. In 2006, the country developed a National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) which listed a number of priority adaptation projects, some of which have now been implemented . It identified safeguarding livelihoods of rural and urban communities, sustainable forest management and coastal erosion as top priorities. The Government of DRC, with support from the EU and other partners, also developed a Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA).
The DRC submitted its INDC to the UNFCCC in 2015 , and its NDC in 2017. The country’s NDC sets an emission reduction target of 17% by 2030, compared to a Business-as-Usual (BAU) scenario which is conditional to adequate financial and technical support (financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building) . The “2016-2020 National Climate Change Policy, Strategy and Action Plan (PSPA-CC)” was developed to align with DRC’s vision of cutting emissions by 17% by the year 2030, focusing both on mitigation and adaptation priorities .
More recently, the National Strategic Plan for Development (PNSD) has been enacted as the country’s overarching development strategy, covering the period 2017-2050. It offers an opportunity to integrate the adaptation priorities identified in the NDC as well as climate-relevant SDGs, into the plans and budgets of each economic sector .
Successes and Remaining Challenges
Given the vulnerability of the DRC to climate change, the effective implementation of climate adaptation and mitigation plans is paramount. However, in DRC, plans such as the PNSD, NAPAs and NAMAs have not yet been sufficiently integrated or addressed within each economic sector’s strategy.
Further, DRC has identified the gaps and barriers to developing a coherent adaptation program as, among others, a lack of reliable climate data; weak technical capacity and institutional and legal support; and lack of financial support for adaptation initiatives .
The country’s NDC recognises that monitoring and evaluation of adaptation policies and programs is crucial to ensure that resources are focused on measures that will give the best chance to increase the resilience of its people . To monitor policies and programs, and to develop reliable and adequate climatic scenarios and vulnerability assessments, the DRC needs to enhance its facilities and systems for the collection and dissemination of climate data .
As for most developing countries, climate finance is another major challenge for DRC. The estimated cost of implementation of NDC measures are USD 21.64 billion – USD 12.54 billion for mitigation and USD 9.1 billion for adaptation . So far, there has been inadequate funding, both internal and external, for the effective implementation of strategies and plans of action on a large scale . Very little domestic finance is made available for climate change, and current domestic financing is insufficient to implement sustainable adaptation solutions for the long term . Even for the contributions coming from external sources such as vertical funds and bilateral donors there is a lack of climate disaggregated financing data in the country, making it difficult to track climate finance .
In addition, the majority of climate change-related projects implemented in DRC, funded through international funds, donors and bilateral relations, are focused on forest conservation and reducing deforestation in the Congo Basin forests, with relatively little funding for other thematic areas such as transport and energy , that also contribute to the country’s emissions.
Initiatives and Development Plans
The World Bank’s $500 million Kin Elenda project, a 5-year project, will make climate resilience a top priority in DRC’s capital and Africa’s largest city – Kinshasa. Set to begin in 2022, the project is funded equally by International Development Association credits and grants, and has been set up with strong institutional buy-in from various levels of government and entities that will benefit, such as public utility companies.
Investment in the project comprises $355 million for resilient infrastructure and services, $125 million for inclusive and resilient communities, and $20 million for project management. The project aims to maximize climate change mitigation and adaptation co-benefits through investment selection and design, with an estimated 71.8% of investments as adaptation and 27% as mitigation.
The Kinshasa project aims to directly benefit about 2 million people through improved services, including household water connections, reduced exposure to flooding, and green urban spaces in the four neighborhoods (Kisenso, Ndjili, Matete and Lemba). Viewed more broadly, however, the project is likely to benefit most Kinshasa residents to some extent due to city-wide investments, especially in water and power .
- The DRC aims to foster private sector engagement and promote the attractiveness of the DRC to investors and companies in several climate-sensitive economic sectors and services .
- Given that there is no clear legal framework for addressing the impacts of climate change and stakeholders have limited technical ability to mainstream climate change into planning and budgeting at the sectoral and national levels . The understanding of climate change monitoring and evaluation and capacity building for climate mitigations and adaptation measures should be promoted.
In the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), DRC identified potential interventions such as:
- Afforestation and reforestation.
- Sustainable management of timber operations.
- Rehabilitation of mining and oil operations.
- Improving the implementation of climate change mitigation policies and measures which should involve institutional and human resources capacity building.
 UN Environment Programme. [Online]. Available: https://www.thegef.org/sites/default/files/documents/10314_Project_Document_1.pdf.
 UNEP & UNDP (2018). "National Adaptation Plans in focus: Lessons from the DRC".
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