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Annex: Marginal Populations

Marginal Populations Annex to the CRD Framework
Climate change and development initiatives are likely to have varying impacts on different populations or members of a single population, even within a single geographical region where development assistance is undertaken. Marginal populations include people whose social, political, economic, ecological, or biophysical circumstances limit or prevent their access to resources, assets, and services. Marginality is not an essential characteristic of a person; rather, it occurs in the context of a particular development initiative; climate or non-climate stressor; or social, economic, or political situation. Compared to others in their households, communities, and countries, members of marginal populations are often exposed to different climate impacts, affected by the same climate impacts to a different degree, or have different resilience to climate and non-climate stressors. It is therefore particularly important to identify these populations when development initiatives are undertaken. Development initiatives include strategies, programs, projects, and activities.

Climate-resilient development is development that enables people to cope with current climate variability and adapt to future climate change. Development that considers climate impacts will help preserve development gains and minimize damages related to climate impacts. Climate risks cannot be eliminated, but negative effects on people and economies can be reduced or managed. Climate-resilient development is not about implementing development activities in a completely new way; rather, it is about considering climate-related risks during regular development planning and implementation to help minimize the consequences and costs of climate impacts so they do not hinder progress toward development goals. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has developed a framework for development practitioners and other relevant stakeholders to help them systematically include climate considerations in their development planning and implementation. This Climate-Resilient Development Framework ( takes a development-first approach and builds on the conventional project cycle management framework that development institutions use to manage their projects and programs.

The purpose of this annex is twofold. First, it serves to help development practitioners understand the importance of identifying and addressing the situations that influence marginal populations. Second, the annex helps development practitioners understand how to identify and incorporate the perspectives, needs, and capacities of marginal populations into each phase of the Climate-Resilient Development Framework.

This annex is structured as follows:
  • Section 1 introduces readers to the annex and explains its purpose and relationship to other USAID documents
  • Section 2 introduces the concept of marginal populations and how marginality can lead to distinct exposure and/or differentiated sensitivity and adaptive capacity to climate change that can undermine development goals
  • Section 3 focuses explicitly on the climate-resilient development framework and how the needs of and concerns for marginal populations can be integrated into each stage of the framework
  • Section 4 suggests resources for further reading; many of these resources have been cited throughout this annex, but additional resources are included that may be of interest to development practitioners
  • Appendix A provides example questions to help development practitioners ensure that they consider marginal populations as they proceed through the climate-resilient development framework