The National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process emerged from the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Cancun in 2010, where Parties affirmed that “adaptation must be addressed with the same priority as mitigation” (UNFCCC, 2010, p.3). The Cancun Adaptation Framework established a national adaptation planning process to identify medium- and long-term adaptation needs and to develop and implement strategies and programs to address those needs. Since then, countries around the world have advanced their NAP processes, taking steps to assess development needs and climate vulnerabilities, analyze current climate and future scenarios and review and appraise adaptation options. Many have begun the process of integrating adaptation into policies and plans for climate-sensitive sectors, such as agriculture and water.1Most countries have also included adaptation objectives within their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the UNFCCC.2

Increasing attention has recently been placed on the role of sub-national actors in advancing implementation of adaptation in developing countries. For example, in the December 2015 Paris agreement, it was recognized that adaptation, while a global challenge, has local and sub-national dimensions (UNFCCC, 2015). To be effective, NAP processes must reflect these dimensions—with consideration of sub-national diversity—as well as the critical role of sub-national authorities and local organizations in planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating adaptation.

This guidance note is designed for NAP teams and other stakeholders interested in strengthening vertical integration in the process. It provides background on the rationale for linking national and sub-national adaptation efforts, drawing on the policy framework and guidance for the process as well as experiences to date in facilitating adaptation. It presents the key issues for vertical integration, including questions for consideration throughout different dimensions of the NAP process. A summary of key points to keep in mind for effective vertical integration provides an overview of the entire process. The guidance note presents a flexible approach that can be adapted to the country’s context, capacities and resources available.

1 See, for example, the experiences of Jamaica, the Philippines and Grenada, documented by the NAP Global Network.

2 As of August 2016, 142 out of 162 (89%) submitted NDCs included adaptation, according to the CAIT Climate Data Explorer: