2021 must see a strongly backed climate adaptation agenda that parallels deep decarbonization action

Posted on 22 January 2021

Climate impacts we see now are just the tip of the iceberg, so it’s vital that countries put in place the most integral actions and have the means to prepare.


20 January 2021 - While the world needs to rapidly ramp up efforts to cut emissions, countries also need to urgently accelerate efforts to adapt to the increasingly severe impacts of climate change. This is the key focus of the first global Climate Adaptation Summit, being held on 25 -26 January, highlighting the urgency  for countries to develop effective climate adaptation plans.


Adaptation – reducing countries’, communities’ and ecosystems' vulnerability to the climate crisis by increasing their resilience – is a key pillar of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The agreement requires countries to implement adaptation measures as part of their enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) outlined through National Adaptation Plans (NAPs). For example, NAPs could include climate information systems, early warning, measures to reduce disaster or drought risk, investments in a green future, among other things. These are some elements necessary for robust adaptation strategies, underscoring the urgent need for immediate investment in ambitious initiatives to build resilience to the increasingly destructive impacts of the climate crisis.


The virtual Summit will convene global leaders such former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and current UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson; French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and many others to discuss adaptation issues. The Summit will launch an ‘action-propelling’ global Adaptation Action Agenda, aiming to accelerate climate adaptation action over the next decade. 


Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF global lead for climate and energy, said: “This meeting is timeous, necessary and the urgency has never been greater. Sadly, as we start to witness the increasingly severe impacts of climate change, countries also have to accelerate efforts to adapt as well as mitigate. 


“The most vulnerable communities all over the world are feeling the impacts of the climate crisis, and ecosystems that they depend upon are under pressure from extreme floods, droughts, wildfires and rising seas, and these impacts are only going to get worse.”


Sandeep Chamling Rai, WWF senior advisor for global adaptation policy, said: “This year, we need to see global urgency and ambition in adaptation and building climate resilience. The Summit must pave the way for the journey ahead.” 


Vanessa Perez-Cirera, WWF deputy global lead for climate and energy, said: “Climate adaptation is not only about technology and infrastructure, but also about the role nature can play in building climate adaptation and resilience. The potential of Nature-based Solutions for climate change - one of the most integral and cost-effective adaptation tools - has yet to be unleashed. Nature can help countries be more resilient to climate change - but if we don't protect it and help it adapt, it can't help us in turn.”


Investing in sustainable adaptation solutions can help the world to tackle twin global crises: climate change and nature loss. WWF is working across the globe to build more climate resilient societies and ecosystems, including through Nature-based Solutions and innovative financial solutions. For example, WWF and partners are collaborating on the ambitious Resilient Asian Deltas initiative to help stop the deltas from sinking and shrinking and keep them above the rising seas. WWF is also co-managing the game-changing Dutch Fund for Climate and Development, which uses public funds to leverage new private finance into bankable projects that build climate resilience.


Stuart Orr, WWF global lead for freshwater said: “Rapidly increasing investment in healthy rivers, lakes and wetlands will be critical to global efforts to adapt to climate change since its impacts will most immediately and acutely be felt through water.


“Public funds will never fill the adaptation gap. Innovative financial approaches – such as WWF’s Bankable Nature Solutions – can help channel billions in new private investment into sustainable bankable projects that enhance the health of freshwater ecosystems, which will boost adaptation, water security and freshwater biodiversity".


WWF works with a variety of partners to: 

  • Elevate the role of Nature-based Solutions for climate adaptation and the need for increased public and blended finance to reach the most vulnerable communities;
  • Work with the International Union for Conservation of Nature to develop and pilot standards for Nature-based Solutions; 
  • Provide practical guidance for countries to include Nature-based Solutions in their national climate plans (or Nationally Determined Contributions - NDCs);
  • Propose ways to align concepts, measures and safeguards between the United Nations Framework for Climate Change and the Post-2020 Framework for the Convention on Biological Diversity;
  • Develop science-based guidance for synergistic interventions; 
  • Identify policy, governance and financial solutions to sustainably fund and scale projects;  
  • Work with local communities and indigenous groups to design and develop best in class projects that benefit climate, nature and people.
  • Channel investment into climate-smart agriculture, forest and wetland restoration, resilient coral reefs to help communities adapt to climate change.

Notes for Editors


A recent report by the UN Environmental Programme noted that 72% of countries have adopted at least one national-level adaptation planning instrument, while a further 9% are developing one. Most developing countries are preparing National Adaptation Plans and including adaptation actions in their updated NDCs. But finance for these plans falls far short of what is needed to ensure implementation.


Join these WWF events at the Summit - remember you have to register to get access to the events.

  • Launch of the Race to Resilience campaign by UN Climate Change and the Climate Champions at 4pm CET, right after the opening event. This is a partner campaign with the Race to Zero.
  • The Resilient Asian Deltas initiative will be featured in the Water Action Track. WWF co-hosted an event in Viet Nam with the governments of Viet Nam and the Netherlands, World Bank and Delta Alliance and that recording will also be featured during the Summit.
  • The Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (co-managed by WWF Green Finance Unit) will showcase how public funds can leverage huge amounts of new private finance into Bankable Nature Solutions to build resilient societies, economies and ecosystems.
  • Launch of joint WWF & Dutch government report on Water as Leverage as part of a side session in the Water Action Track on the importance of water and freshwater ecosystems to effective climate adaptation. The event involves Dutch government, WWF’s Stuart Orr (FW Practice Lead), World Bank, OECD, Valuing Water Initiative and Water Youth Network.

For further information, contact

Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwfint.org or Richard Lee rlee@wwfint.org 

Fijian boys from Mali Island walk into mangrove roots to look for crabs.
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