Posted on 19 February 2021
A lack of funding is holding up the implementation of urgently needed adaptation initiatives, writes Sandeep Chamling Rai.
Reuters reported this week that Mozambique was expected to experience a third tropical storm, Guambue, in as many months. Guambue is expected to intensify into a cyclone, bringing flooding, torrential rain and strong winds. Mozambique, the world’s seventh poorest country is already reeling from Cyclone Eloise, which struck on 23 January this year, and tropical storm Chalane which struck in December 2020. Both brought additional devastation to the country which was already struggling to recover from Cyclone Idai, one of the worst tropical storms on record, which struck the country in March 2019. Lives and livelihoods and hundreds of thousands of people continue to be disrupted by these devastating storms.
Addressing these kinds of extreme weather events requires not only efforts to address the climate crisis, but also for each country to understand their risk of climate impacts and develop and implement adaptation initiatives to address those risks. In global policy parlance, these are called National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).
Why is it important for countries to take climate adaptation steps now?
According to the latest climate science, human activities are estimated to already have caused 1.2˚C of global warming above pre-industrial levels. Even with just over a degree of warming, communities and nature are already suffering the impacts of the climate crisis. Investment in climate adaptation now is more critical than ever as these impacts will only become more frequent and severe over time.
What are National Adaptation Plans (NAPs)?
The National Adaptation Plan process was established under the Cancun Adaptation Framework in 2010. NAPs are the initial tool for countries to achieve their long-term climate resilience pathways. They enable countries to identify strategies for medium- and long-term adaptation needs, and to develop and implement the strategies to address these needs. With robust and adaptive NAPs, countries can both define their adaptation contribution as a part of their national climate plan (called Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs), and better articulate adaptation components of the long-term strategy on climate change.
Are NAPs effective so far?
While NAPs were established in 2010, to date only a handful of countries have submitted their NAP to the UN. Encouragingly, the UNEP Adaptation Gap Report 2020, released last month, says most developing countries have started formulating their NAP. But there remains a huge gap in the prioritisation of implementing NAPs. We need a strong focus on fostering the implementation of adaptation priorities outlined in existing NAPs and NDCs. The Climate Adaptation Summit 2021 saw a move to accelerate implementation of adaptation priorities of vulnerable countries.
What is needed for NAPs to be a successful way for countries to design and implement their adaptation plans?
Finance is essential for the implementation of NAPs. Despite an increase in financing available for adaptation, the adaptation finance gap is not closing. Oxfam’s Climate Finance Roadmap 2020 says adaptation finance rose from around US$9 billion per year in 2015/16 to US$15 billion per year in 2017/18, which is still wholly inadequate. UNEP (2020) estimates that annual adaptation costs in developing countries alone are estimated to be in the range of US$70 billion, with the expectation of reaching US$140–300 billion in 2030 and US$280–500 billion in 2050.
Significantly scaling up adaptation finance is critical to enhance adaptation planning and implementation that will limit climate damages, particularly in developing countries.
What is WWF doing?
WWF has been actively involved in supporting national governments of some countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to develop NAPs that are pro-nature and help to build “social-ecological” resilience to climate change. WWF encourages countries and funders to follow three guiding principles when developing, supporting, and implementing NAPs: (i) Avoid harming nature (ii) Use nature to help people adapt (iii) Help nature adapt. WWF has also developed a set of 9 key recommendations and encourages policymakers and donor institutions to adopt them during the development and implementation of NAP’s.
A final word
We cannot understate the urgency and need to implement adaptation action now to safeguard vulnerable communities and nature from climate impacts. Mozambique, and vulnerable countries like it in every part of the world, are likely to experience more and more of the devastating consequences of climate change. Global solidarity towards the most vulnerable communities, strong political will, and increased adaptation finance are essential elements necessary to scale up climate adaptation action globally. 2021 must be the year when, globally, we see increased adaptation planning and implementation. We need NAPs to be submitted by all countries - especially the developing ones - before COP26. And we believe that Nature-based Solutions for climate adaptation should be an integral part in NAPs, as this underpins short and long-term climate-resilient pathways.
Sandeep Chamling Rai is Senior Advisor- Global Climate Adaptation Policy for WWF.