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A Great Year for National Adaptation Planning and the Network to Watch in 2022

By Catherine Burge on January 7, 2022

A new sense of urgency for climate action is being felt all around the world. We spent the past year watching climate disasters cause heartbreaking scenes of destruction, all the while continuing to deal with the global COVID-19 pandemic. Other impacts of climate change—like rising sea levels, intensifying droughts, and irregular rainfall patterns—are harder to see and not as prominent in the media, but they are increasingly putting communities and ecosystems at risk as well.

These stories and images were backed by the latest science last year. In August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report confirmed that some climate impacts are inevitable and irreversible. It raised alarm bells and confirmed that we cannot afford to delay our efforts to prepare for and protect ourselves against what’s to come. This means accelerating national efforts to put adaptation at the heart of decision making, which is exactly the goal of the NAP Global Network, which brings together adaptation policymakers from developing countries and donor agencies. 

The National Adaptation Plan (NAP) is a critical tool in the fight against climate change, using research and on-the-ground analyses to plan for adaptation efforts that will generate the most sustainable, just, and cost-effective solutions.

With the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) hosting its Secretariat, the NAP Global Network supports developing countries throughout the NAP process to accelerate the implementation of adaptation actions around the world. While reflecting on the past year’s progress in our work, it’s clear that the momentum being built for climate action will continue into the new year, and NAPs will have a big role to play.

- Anne Hammill, Senior Director, Resilience, International Institute for Sustainable Development, NAP Global Network Secretariat.
 

10 Countries Submitted Their National Adaptation Plans in 2021

Despite contributing the least to climate change, developing countries suffer the most from its impacts. Developing country governments are witnessing first-hand the importance of developing an effective NAP that identifies different risks and priority actions for addressing them.

“I hope that this plan will be a cornerstone in the policy framework of reducing the risks of climate change and increasing the resilience towards it, continuously, for the benefit of present and future generations,” said Sheikh Abdullah Ahmad AlHumoud AlSabah, Chairman of the Board and Director General of Environmental Public Authority (EPA), in the foreword of Kuwait’s NAP—the development of which was led by the EPA.

For example, Albania has made progress on preparing for climate change impacts through its NAP process, including by implementing priority activities with a focus on gender equity and ecosystem-based adaptation.

In the last year, 10 countries submitted their NAP documents to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including six countries that we, through the NAP Global Network, have worked with on technical assistance and peer learning. As more and more countries submit their NAPs, we expect governments to increasingly focus their support requests on how to implement these plans.

“The support we provided for South Africa’s adaptation cost estimates and their resource mobilization strategy, or Peru’s efforts to ensure a participatory NAP development process, are important pieces of their transition from planning to implementation,” said Hammill.

This substantial number of submitted NAP documents is an exciting achievement, as it doubles the previous record for NAPs filed in a single year (in 2019, five NAPs were submitted to the UNFCCC). Between the NAP Global Network’s country partners and other nations working on their adaptation plans, we can expect more submissions to follow in 2022.

More Technical Support Requests for Adaptation Than Ever

In 2021, the NAP Global Network received 47 requests for short-term technical assistance—more than all the previous years combined. These requests are sent through the Country Support Hub. Our Secretariat’s researchers and policy advisors have worked with 45 countries since the Hub’s launch in 2016.

With funding from Germany and the United Kingdom, the NAP Global Network worked with 20 countries in preparing their first Adaptation Communication (ADCOM) to the UNFCCC after sending out an open call for requests in May. By compiling and analyzing information on adaptation progress, priority actions, and support needs, a country’s ADCOM is an important resource for elevating the profile of adaptation. It is also a valuable input for the upcoming global stocktake under the UNFCCC, which will assess how the Paris Agreement has been implemented to date and is slated for late 2023. 

These efforts will continue in 2022, and we expect a surge of ADCOM submissions to take place before the call for inputs into the global stocktake closes next year.

Other results from the NAP Global Network’s technical support requests from last year included:

  • Burkina Faso’s first NAP progress report, which identifies lessons learned and recommendations for future actions, and assesses results from adaptation efforts in each sector.
  • A national gender advisor assisting the government of Côte d’Ivoire in mainstreaming gender considerations into climate action.
  • A new analysis led by the government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands that explores opportunities and challenges in integrating gender equality and human rights objectives in the NAP process.

Informing the Way Forward

The NAP process enables countries to manage systematically the climate risks they face, while doing so in a way that advances a range of other development priorities. This year, our researchers conducted deep dives on different themes to help governments use their NAP processes to address and elevate these priorities when building climate resilience.

  • We reviewed 19 NAP documents to provide guidance on how to use the NAP process to scale up ecosystem-based adaptation measures when building resilience to climate change.
  • We provided recommendations on how countries can create opportunities for diverse stakeholders at all levels—from citizens and local organizations to sub-national and national policymakers—to collaborate in an inclusive NAP process.
  • We examined how sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) have been treated in NAP processes to date, finding that while governments are prioritizing adaptation in the health sector in their NAP processes, there has been limited attention to SRHR in overarching NAP documents so far.

Donors Committing Funding for a New Era of Adaptation Efforts

At the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26), the NAP Global Network received new funding from Canada, the United States, Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom to increase support for national adaptation planning and action in developing countries. This announcement highlighted how much NAP processes are valued and recognized for their role in building a resilient future.

A quote card with text from Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault on the 2021 funding from Canada to the National Adaptation Plan Global Network
A quote from the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, during Canada's funding announcement for the NAP Global Network at COP 26.

With this new funding and the momentum built from the past year, our team at the NAP Global Network Secretariat, hosted by IISD, is ready for the work ahead and excited to see real change as NAPs start being implemented around the world.