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NEWS: Adaptation Book reviews landscape of non-state climate action

Climate Chance Observatory has launched its Synthesis Report 2019 on non-state climate action: the ‘Adaptation Book’. This free, open-access book reviews more than 1,000 sources – including the most recent reports, academic studies, press articles, NGO publications, and actors’ initiatives – to present the diversity of climate actions implemented by non-state actors worldwide. It covers actions taken by local and subnational governments, companies, NGOs and others.

This Adaptation Book includes:

  • Six case studies on adaptation action by cities and regions: Nouakchott (Mauritania), Las Vegas (Nevada, USA), Nicargua, Guiuan (the Philippines), Aksu (Tajikistan),  Šibenik-Knin (Croatia).
  • Chapters that analyse – in overview – adaptation strategies in six economic sectors: agroecosystems, production and food supply chains; power systems; buildings and housing; recreational tourism activities; and water resources.
  • Sources and criteria for adaptation funding.

The Adaptation Book provides a good entry point to key action areas, and references important sources of further information.

Key takeaway messages from the ‘Adaptation Book’

  1. Climate change adaptation commanded little support at COP24 in Katowice, Poland (2018) and still does not receive the equal attention to mitigation that was promised since Cancún (2010). The creation of the Global Commission on Adaptation, at the start of 2019, along with the release of its first report in September of the same year, signals a desire to boost political and financial investment in adaptation among international governance bodies.
  2. Although the costs of adaptation for developing countries are constantly on the rise, the international community is still lagging behind with its financial commitments: US$ 463 billion for the climate in 2016, with only US$ 22 billion for adaptation (= 4.75 %, Climate Policy Initiative, 2017), far from the initial commitment of 100 billion/year promised by developed countries. However, according to the Global Commission on Adaptation, the cost-benefit ratio of an adaptation investment can range from 2 :1 to 10 :1.
  3. All studies on climate finance, however, show a clear increase in bilateral and multilateral funding for adaptation since 2016. In particular, North-South flows show a global rise in climate funding for developing countries. However, these amounts remain limited, in small absolute volumes. In proportion to what mitigation receives, these flows are far from marking a change in the scale of adaptation financing. Bilateral institutions such as UKAid, or multilateral ones like the Green Fund, are still aiming for 50% for adaptation funding.
  4. The development of markets and guarantees for green assets must make it possible to redirect private investment towards adaptation, notably for the least developed countries (LDCs) while reducing the financial sector’s exposure to the physical risks to which their assets are exposed.
  5. In a context where the number of funds dedicated to adaptation is constantly growing and private investors are reluctant to take on high country-risks, clarifying criteria and consolidating monitoring tools can facilitate the financing of adaptation in the LDCs. Lacking common metrics and standard methodology for evaluating adaptation projects, it is difficult to assess the impact of measures and monitor investments. AFD, the World Bank and Citepa have recently tried to develop universal instruments that can be adapted to local contexts.
  6. Key actors in local resilience, there are more and more cities declaring their commitment to adaptation with networks and international climate initiatives.
  7. Action reports by local authorities present many continental asymmetries in a trompe-l’œil way (a visual illusion). While European and North American local authorities are the quickest to communicate their planning approaches and actions, many “silent adaptations” elsewhere in the world are not included in the aggregated data. Not listed as such, these actions are struggling to access funding. Latin American local authorities have been very active in their adaptation reporting in recent years.
  8. In terms of action, cities are still struggling to get out of the diagnostic stage and enter the planning and implementation phases. Policies implemented by local authorities tend to be polarised in regard to some visible risks (mainly when related to water) with a preference for well-identified “grey”, i.e. engineered, adaptation measures, mainly located in urban areas.
  9. Local adaptation by economic actors produces direct co-benefits for climate change mitigation. This is the case in agri-food, tourism and power generation sectors: reduction of demand and reorganisation of supply (less livestock, more proximity, decarbonisation of electricity, etc.) are part of the same movement of holistic reorientation.
  10. The range of adaptation strategies for certain sectors or services raises some ethical and political questions: the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the agri-food sector, artificial substitutes for natural resources (synthetic grass, artificial snow, etc.) or even the construction of seawalls on fragile coasts confirm that the adaptation of certain local areas is a matter of strategic choices and requires governance mechanisms open to all stakeholders.

For more information, visit the Climate Change Observatory of Action.


Image (above) : Climate smart village, Guatemala, courtesy CCAFS.

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