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U.S. Agency for International Development

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The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supports research and activities to address diverse global change challenges across many sectors. USAID partners with dozens of countries to strengthen capacity and governance and create the legal and regulatory environments needed to improve development outcomes in the face of global change.

USAID carries out development activities that are guided by the Agency’s Climate Strategy. The strategy lays out a whole-of-Agency approach, calling upon each operating unit to contribute to objectives and targets which include (by 2030): supporting at least 80 Nationally Determined Contributions or National Adaptation Plans, reducing 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions globally, enabling the improved climate resilience of 500 million people, and increasing equitable engagement of critical populations (including Indigenous People and local communities, women, and youth) in 40 partner countries.

The Agency administers specific funding streams to address the climate crisis. These funds are used to assist partner countries as they adapt to the impacts of climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from land (for example, by avoiding deforestation and conserving peatlands), and advance clean energy economies. The Agency prioritizes addressing global change to ensure the well-being of populations at significant risk of harm from global change.

USAID recognizes the critical need for global change research and analysis in many areas including global health, biodiversity loss, ocean plastics, agriculture, and migration. The Agency’s Learning Agenda—one type of research—strengthens development outcomes by increasing the quantity and quality of data available to help test and refine theories of change. These data are typically shared within the U.S. Government and with external partners. USAID uses theories of change to design activities. These depend on our understanding of relationships between current conditions and the results expected from a proposed intervention. USAID is continually monitoring progress, revising our understanding of those relationships, and using the lessons learned to adjust programming. In this vein, USAID:

  • supports research and interventions to stem large-scale changes that are transforming Earth’s capacity to support life and driving ecosystem and biodiversity decline and ocean warming and acidification.

  • invests in the integration of climate data into early warning systems, including for flood, drought, and malaria. Early warning systems for malaria are building on research originally funded by NIH.

  • partners with more than 50 countries to support people, communities, and larger populations in developing systems to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to current and future climate impacts.

  • enables inclusive landscape planning, emissions disclosure, and international financing so that local and international stakeholders establish low-emissions value chains for commodities that drive deforestation.

  • confronts ocean plastic pollution at the source by encouraging private sector investment in solid waste management systems and, with local partners, strengthening policies and incentives to recover and divert plastic waste from landfills.

  • supports pilot programs to identify and scale the most effective approaches for addressing air pollution in developing countries, advancing solutions that deliver climate, health, and development benefits.

  • helps partner countries deploy clean energy technologies that can sustainably power economic and social development.

  • supports efforts to reduce threats from increased interaction between humans and animals (wild and domesticated), including infectious disease threats on-farm and in markets; advance interventions in communities at high-risk for viral spillover; and related behavioral change research.

USAID also supports activities that conduct research on topics such as:

  • estimating and accounting for land-based carbon stocks and greenhouse gas fluxes

  • the role of forests in food security

  • diverse aspects of agriculture and the food system, including the development and deployment of climate resilient crop varieties, innovative technologies for water management, and research on other climate-smart agricultural practices

  • linkages between participatory natural resources management and democratic outcomes

  • connections between wildlife trafficking and zoonotic disease transmission 

USAID is committed to advancing the impact of development programs by strengthening the leadership of, and improving development outcomes for, populations that are often at the greatest risk of the impacts from global change. These may include poor and ultra-poor households, women and girls, persons with disabilities, LGBTQI+ people, displaced persons, migrants, Indigenous Peoples and local communities, children in adversity and their families, youth, older persons, religious minorities, ethnic and racial groups, people in lower castes, persons with unmet mental health needs, and people of diverse economic class and political opinions.