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Learning from shared experience for impactful climate adaptation

April 29, 2021

Person planting seed tree in the ground
Photo: Donny Hery/Shutterstock

The Global Environment Facility brought together partner agencies and climate experts to discuss ways to increase collective ambition related to climate change adaptation. The Technical Dialogue on Enhancing Adaptation will inform the GEF’s climate change adaptation strategy in the GEF-8 period, which begins in July 2022.

Helping developing countries prepare for and adapt to the negative impacts of climate change is one of the Global Environment Facility’s top priorities, through support from the GEF-managed Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF).

How to ensure climate change adaptation financing yields impactful results was the focus of a technical dialogue hosted by the GEF on April 28, 2021, where representatives of partner agencies and the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) shared good practices in project design and discussed the use of climate information and other approaches to assess and address risk.

Gustavo Fonseca, the GEF Director of Programs, said the discussion would help diverse climate funds and their partners find pathways for even greater impact in climate change adaptation through better-designed projects and more coordinated approaches.

“Climate change adaptation is a rapidly evolving field, and we are continuously seeking to establish good practices to enhance adaptation impact,” Fonseca said. “We are hoping that this technical dialogue will contribute valuable insights to shape our early thinking of the GEF climate change adaptation strategy for the LDCF and SCCF.”

Several participants highlighted the ways climate change adaptation measures can also support other environmental goals, such as ecosystem protection and reforestation efforts that can address flooding, drought, storms, and other climate change hazards, some of which are already presenting differently in diverse contexts such as the Pacific and small island developing states.

There was agreement about the need to analyze multiple scenarios about how climate change will unfold when assessing potential hazards – and the need to develop projects whose climate change adaptation elements will be robust, durable, and sustainable across these scenarios, and in support of national economies and local communities’ prosperity.

Edward Carr, Director of the International Development, Community, and Environment Department at Clark University and STAP panel member for climate change adaptation, said that scientists and environmental project managers alike needed to consider a range of possible climate hazards and risks stretching decades into the future.

“Scenarios are plausible futures based on data,” Carr said. “What we are trying to do is encourage people to think about multiple plausible futures that capture different ways the climate may play out, and whether climate change adaptation interventions are robust across those futures.”

As part of the discussion, participants brainstormed ways to raise the bar on the impact of initiatives supported by the GEF, the LDCF, and the SCCF, including by “going beyond climate-proofing” to fully integrate climate risk and adaptation pathways into project design.

They also discussed the elements of effective adaptation project design, and stressed broad interest in coordinated and complementary investments across funds, an idea that has been championed by GEF CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodriguez.

Chizuru Aoki, who is the GEF’s multilateral environmental agreements lead and manages the LDCF and SCCF, said the workshop was helpful to understand efforts of GEF partners to characterize and enhance climate change adaptation impacts in diverse contexts, including in least developed countries. She also underscored the need to characterize contributions to national economy from adaptation interventions.

“It was very important to have this conversation and it did highlight a lot of common elements and practical examples of what the agencies are doing. It also highlighted that there is a lot of difference between the agencies on data use and the characterization of project design and risk questions,” she said. “We look forward to more dialogue as we work to pull these elements together to inform the next climate change adaptation strategy for the LDCF and SCCF to be rolled out in 2022, and support a scaling-up of impact across the board.”

About the Least Developed Countries Fund

The GEF-managed Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) was created in 2001 to enable LDCs to invest in urgently needed climate change adaptation measures. It is the only climate adaptation fund exclusively dedicated to supporting the Least Developed Countries. The LDCF has provided $1.6 billion to date for more than 300 projects addressing countries’ urgent and immediate climate adaptation needs, spanning infrastructure, economic activity, and community prosperity. These projects have reduced the climate vulnerability for 23 million people.

About the Special Climate Change Fund

One of the world’s first climate adaptation finance vehicles, the GEF-managed Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) has two decades of experience working to bolster developing countries’ defences against a changing climate, with a focus on innovative solutions that can be scaled for broad impact. SCCF-supported projects have reduced the vulnerability of 7 million people globally and helped bring nearly 4 million hectares of land under more sustainable management to date. As it marks its 20th year, the SCCF is stepping up its focus on attracting private sector engagement in climate adaptation and providing flexible, tailored support for innovations that can help developing countries address their climate risks.

About the Global Environment Facility

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established 30 years ago on the eve of the Rio Earth Summit to tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems. Since then, it has provided more than $21 billion in grants and mobilized an additional $114 billion in co-financing for more than 5,000 projects in 170 countries. The GEF is the largest multilateral trust fund focused on enabling developing countries to invest in nature, and supports the implementation of major international environmental conventions including on biodiversity, climate change, chemicals, and desertification.