By Tsim Mavisi
Despite climate change impacts intensifying across the globe, a new report by United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) shows that efforts in adaptation planning, financing, and implementation are too little and slow.
“Adaptation needs in the developing world are set to skyrocket to as much as $340 billion a year by 2030. Yet adaptation support today stands at less than one-tenth of that amount. The most vulnerable people and communities are paying the price. This is unacceptable,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement on the release of the Adaptation Gap Report.
“Adaptation must be treated with a seriousness that reflects the equal worth of all members of the human family. It’s time for a global climate adaptation overhaul that puts aside excuses and picks up the toolbox to fix the problem.”
According to UNEP’S Adaptation Gap Report, 2022 adaptation and mitigation finance flow in 2020 fell by at least USD 17 billion short of the USD 100 billion pledged to developing countries. Significant acceleration is needed if a doubling of 2019 finance flows by 2025 is to be met, as urged by the Glasgow Climate Pact. The estimated annual adaptation needs are USD 160-340 billion by 2030 and USD 315-565 billion by 2050.
The report shows that more than eight out of ten countries have at least one national adaptation planning instrument, and they are getting better and more inclusive. One-third of the 197 country Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have incorporated quantified and time-bound targets on adaptation. Meanwhile, nearly 90 percent of planning instruments analyzed display consideration for gender and disadvantaged groups, such as Indigenous peoples.
Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director noted that efforts to adapt are not keeping pace with climate risks and impacts. “Yes, these instruments are increasingly prioritizing disadvantaged groups such as women and indigenous peoples. However, to turn adaptation plans into action, we need funding and this funding isn’t coming through,” she said.
“We are going to need from USD 160 to 340 billion per year for adaptation by 2030. In 2020, international adaptation finance flows to developing countries hit USD 29 billion. This leaves a yawning gap to be filled – around 5 to 10 times the size of the adaptation finance that arrived in 2020.”
The report shows that combined adaptation and mitigation finance flow in 2020 fell at least USD 17 billion short of the USD 100 billion pledged to developing countries. Significant acceleration is needed if a doubling of 2019 finance flows by 2025 is to be met, as urged by the Glasgow Climate Pact. The estimated annual adaptation needs are USD 160-340 billion by 2030 and USD 315-565 billion by 2050.
According to the report, implementation of adaptation actions concentrated in agriculture, water, ecosystems, and cross-cutting sectors is increasing, but not keeping up with climate impacts. It notes that without a step change in support, adaptation actions could be outstripped by accelerating climate risks.
The report finds that linking adaptation and mitigation actions such as nature-based solutions from the outset in planning, finance, and implementation can enhance co-benefits. It could also limit potential trade-offs, such as hydropower reducing food security or irrigation increasing energy consumption.
“Yes, the war in Ukraine, global supply shortages, and the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to an energy and food security crisis. Costs of living are going through the roof. Climate adaptation may not seem like a priority right now. It is. Even if all commitments are implemented immediately, the reality is that climate change is going to be with us decades into the future. And the poorest keep paying the price for our inaction. It is therefore imperative that we put time, effort, resources, and planning into adaptation action,” Andersen urged.