Planning is a critical step in the NAP process. It is the stage where vulnerabilities are analyzed, adaptation options are identified and the foundation is laid for implementation, monitoring and evaluation of adaptation. In the NAP process, planning is a flexible approach, which often involves integrating adaptation into existing plans or strategies, rather than or in addition to creating a new, stand-alone plan or NAP document. It is an iterative process, with new information, knowledge and lessons integrated over time and at different levels. Vertical integration in planning aims to ensure that planning processes at national and sub-national levels are mutually supportive, with dialogue among actors at different levels throughout the process.

Figure 3 provides a simplified representation of the relationships and processes that link the national and sub-national levels during the planning stage. Because NAP planning is an iterative process, there is flexibility in the sequencing of steps for vertical integration. In some contexts, national-level planning is conducted first, for example through the development of sectoral adaptation plans, which provide a framework for sub-national planning. In others, sub-national planning is completed first and these plans are compiled and synthesized to generate national plans. Most countries will likely end up with a mix of these two approaches, pursuing national and sub-national planning processes concurrently, with each informing the other. This iterative approach is illustrated by the blue arrows, which show the bi-directional linkages between planning processes at the different levels.

To be effective, the planning stage must be grounded in and consider the realities of vulnerable communities, groups and ecosystems, which are captured through inclusive and gender-sensitive participatory planning processes—this will be crucial for the implementation stage, as explored further in Section 6. These processes bring different stakeholders together in dialogue on development needs and climate vulnerabilities, to generate, access and analyze climate information and to identify adaptation options to be included in community adaptation and/or development plans. Similar processes are conducted by sub-national authorities, with participation of relevant institutions, including civil society and private sector actors, to generate sub-national government plans. At each level, the available information from planning processes conducted at the other levels is reviewed and integrated into the plans.

Vertical integration in planning is facilitated by the three enabling factors. As shown by the orange arrow in Figure 3, institutional arrangements must be in place to connect the different levels, facilitating coordination of planning processes, capacity development and information sharing. The national level will often invest in capacity development, for example by providing guidance and technical assistance for planning at sub-national levels, as shown by the yellow arrow. The red arrow depicts the ongoing information sharing that is necessary between the different levels throughout the planning process. This includes sharing of climate information as well as information on the planning process itself.

Figure 3. Vertical integration in planning.

Guidance on addressing the issues and questions for vertical integration in planning is provided in the following sections.

Enabling Factors for Vertical Integration in Planning

What mechanisms already exist to facilitate linkages between national and sub-national planning processes? How can these be leveraged for the NAP process?

In many countries, institutional arrangements already exist for linking national and sub-national planning, for example through local development planning processes undertaken within the framework of national strategies for poverty reduction and economic growth. Where they exist, NAP teams should consider how these mechanisms can be leveraged to support vertical integration in the NAP process, for example by using existing planning platforms to undertake assessment and prioritization for the NAP. This will enable efficient engagement of sub-national actors, while also creating awareness and understanding about adaptation among sub-national authorities and local organizations. Where these mechanisms do not exist, you will need to consider what institutional arrangements are needed to facilitate this engagement.

A1: Initiating and launching of the NAP process

What information needs to be generated and shared between national and sub-national actors to facilitate adaptation planning at different levels?

Actors at different levels have differing but related information needs for adaptation planning. A key input to the process is climate information, including on observations, changing trends and future projections. Vertical integration provides the opportunity to merge national and sub-national data and projections with local and indigenous knowledge. This process requires communication of the scientific information in ways that are accessible and relevant to local stakeholders. This integration of local knowledge with scientific information enables assessment of climate vulnerabilities and identification of adaptation options that are context-specific and robust in relation to future scenarios. Information sharing between the different levels should also include communication generated through the planning process itself, in terms of analysis of development needs and climate vulnerabilities and identification of adaptation options.

B2: Assessing climate vulnerabilities and identifying adaptation options at sector, sub-national, national and other appropriate levels

What are the capacity needs and gaps for engaging sub-national stakeholders in adaptation planning processes?

Even in countries where significant progress on decentralization has been achieved, there may be capacity gaps at the sub-national level that will present challenges to vertical integration in the NAP process. Adaptation planning involves an understanding of climate change and the range of appropriate responses, as well as skills such as vulnerability assessment and scenario planning. These capacities may not exist at sub-national levels, in which case the planning stage of the NAP process will need to include a strong emphasis on capacity development for sub-national actors. At the same time, the processes involved in engaging sub-national stakeholders in NAP planning will likely differ from those employed at the national level. Effective stakeholder engagement requires particular skills, including inclusive and gender-sensitive facilitation, conflict resolution and effective communication. You will need to consider whether your NAP team has the appropriate mix of skills, and if not, how these can be accessed to ensure an effective and truly participatory process.

A3: Addressing capacity gaps and weaknesses in undertaking the NAP process

Recognizing Sub-national Diversity in Development Needs and Climate Vulnerabilities

What analysis has been done to generate understanding of sub-national diversity in development needs and climate vulnerabilities?

Detailed climate vulnerability analysis across all the different socioeconomic and ecological contexts within a country may be beyond the scope of the NAP process; however, in some countries a significant amount of analysis may already have been done at sub-national levels. The stocktaking stage is an opportunity to seek out information on development needs and climate vulnerabilities that has been generated by other actors and/or within the context of specific government projects. This may include: vulnerability assessments undertaken during the planning stage of climate change adaptation projects implemented by the government or NGOs, disaster risk assessments developed by UN and other humanitarian agencies and/or research on climate impacts and adaptation responses conducted by universities or other institutions, among others. These analyses can represent important sources of information to generate an understanding of the national situation to inform the NAP process.

A2: Stocktaking (identifying available information on climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation) and assessing gaps and needs of the enabling environment for the NAP process

What additional sub-national analysis is needed?

The stocktaking stage may also identify gaps in the data and information needed to assess vulnerabilities and identify adaptation options at different planning levels. To inform vertical integration, you may need to conduct further analysis on these issues, ideally with participation of the people concerned, through an inclusive and gender-sensitive process. To ensure a quality analysis, you will likely need to collaborate with sub-national authorities, local organizations and/or research institutions. The units of analysis should be defined in a way that allows consideration of sub-national diversity in terms of vulnerable groups, ecosystems or livelihood systems.

B2: Assessing climate vulnerabilities and identifying adaptation options at sector,sub-national, national and other appropriate levels

How will sub-national diversity be accounted for in identification of adaptation options?

The vulnerability analysis provides a basis for identifying adaptation options. The disaggregation applied in the vulnerability analysis should be carried over into this step, recognizing that in many contexts the administrative divisions may not represent the most effective units for taking sub-national diversity into account. You may want to consider identification of adaptation options for particular livelihood systems, ecosystems or social or ethnic groups, with due consideration to how these options will then be integrated in sub-national and national adaptation and/or development plans. Again, the identification of adaptation options will ideally be done through a participatory process, with local organizations, vulnerable communities and groups represented. The process should build on existing experiences, recognizing that sub-national actors may already be engaging in adaptive actions (consciously or unconsciously), for example through local development investments, adjustments to livelihood strategies and/or efforts to improve sustainability of natural resource use and management.

B2: Assessing climate vulnerabilities and identifying adaptation options at sector,sub-national, national and other appropriate levels

“National adaptation platforms need to include a diverse range of rural and urban communities, with particular attention to participatory approaches to facilitate the contributions of pastoralists, hunter-gathers, farmers and fisherfolk.”

N’Djamena Declaration on Adaptation to Climate Change, Indigenous Pastoralism, Traditional Knowledge and Meteorology in Africa (2011), cited in Crawhall, (2016)

Ensuring That Sub-national Perspectives Are Reflected in National Adaptation Plans

How will existing sub-national adaptation planning processes (if any) be incorporated in the NAP process?

In many countries, some sub-national adaptation planning has already taken place. Often these processes have been driven by adaptation-focused projects that included a component of community or sub-national government planning. Where they exist, these plans are a very useful resource for the NAP process, as they represent an efficient way of identifying adaptation options at sub-national levels. As part of the compilation process, you should collect, analyze and aggregate existing adaptation plans for incorporation in the NAP, taking care not to lose important aspects of sub-national diversity through the aggregation process. You will need to review these existing plans to ensure that they integrate scientific climate information and that the adaptation options identified are feasible and robust. It may also be helpful to review these existing plans with a gender and vulnerability lens, to ensure the process was inclusive and that benefits are shared with women and vulnerable groups.

B4: Compiling and communicating national adaptation plans

How will adaptation options be identified and assessed at sub-national levels?

If sub-national government or community adaptation plans already exist, they can provide an initial identification of adaptation options for the areas covered, assuming that they have been produced through participatory processes and that they have sufficiently incorporated scientific climate information. If plans do not already exist, it may be useful to facilitate adaptation planning processes or workshops at relevant levels to identify options and assess their feasibility and robustness in relation to potential future scenarios. During these activities, you will need to make efforts to ensure that both the process and the results are gender-sensitive and inclusive of vulnerable groups.

B3: Reviewing and appraising adaptation options

How will inputs from sub-national stakeholders be integrated into national adaptation plans?

Following from the above questions, you will need to consider how inputs from sub-national stakeholders will be integrated into the NAP process at the national level. In addition to incorporating the results of community and sub-national government planning processes, sub-national representatives will ideally be involved in the planning process at the national level. You will also need to decide how sub-national perspectives will be presented in documents resulting from the NAP process. There are a range of options for this, such as the development of sub-national adaptation plans to complement the national plans or mapping of sectoral adaptation options to different regions, groups or ecosystems, for example. The best solution for integrating sub-national perspectives will depend on the context and the planned outputs from the NAP process. The goal is to ensure that sub-national issues receive adequate attention in the NAP and are presented in a way that facilitates implementation and M&E. Having sub-national representatives involved in the planning process at the national level will help to confirm this.

B4: Compiling and communicating national adaptation plans

Ensuring That National Adaptation Plans Are Integrated in Sub-National Planning

How will information related to the NAP be communicated to sub-national actors to inform planning?

As the NAP process is led from the national level, it is critical that key outputs from the process, such as sectoral adaptation plans, are communicated to sub-national actors, both for transparency in the NAP process and to guide adaptation planning and implementation at sub-national levels. You will need to consider the best ways to do this, using tailored communication strategies for different types of actors at different levels. Generally speaking, disseminating documents is not the best way to communicate—sharing of documents is often more effective when accompanied by meetings or workshops that provide opportunities for different stakeholders, including sub-national authorities and local organizations, to ask questions, provide feedback and build a common understanding of the information and the way forward.

B4: Compiling and communicating national adaptation plans

“Creating a climate-aware citizenry requires sustained efforts, and to be useful, the information should relate to the needs of the people, distinguishing carefully between short-term weather forecast(s) and medium-to long-term climate scenarios.”

Technical guidelines for the NAP process (UNFCCC, 2012)

What sub-national planning processes represent the best entry points for integrating adaptation?

The ultimate aim of the NAP process is for adaptation to be integrated into development plans and strategies at different levels, including sub-national levels. The particular process for this will depend on a number of factors, including the degree of decentralization of development planning, the technical capacity on adaptation at sub-national levels and the timescale for sub-national planning. You will need to determine the best entry points for this integration in your particular context, taking these factors into account. The best approach will likely involve an iterative process, whereby adaptation priorities are increasingly integrated over progressive planning cycles.

B5: Integrating climate change adaptation into national and sub-national development and sectoral planning

How will guidance and support be provided to sub-national actors for integrating adaptation into development planning?

To facilitate the process of integrating adaptation into sub-national development planning, you may need to consider developing guidance. Again, the most appropriate approach will depend on your NAP process and the decentralization context. For example, if a guideline for local development planning already exists, it may make sense to revise this to incorporate adaptation issues. If such a guideline does not exist, you’ll need to consider whether dedicated adaptation guidance is useful, or whether you should work with others to develop a broader local development planning approach that integrates adaptation. In either case, it is likely that sub-national actors will require some support in undertaking this process, in the form of preparatory analysis, technical assistance or training on adaptation concepts and their application in development planning, for example.

B5: Integrating climate change adaptation into national and sub-national development and sectoral planning

Nepal: Integrating learning from local adaptation planning in the NAP process

Nepal has pursued a community-driven approach to adaptation planning, in line with its commitment to disburse the bulk of financial resources available for adaptation at the local level (Government of Nepal, 2011). A manual for developing Local Adaptation Plans of Action (LAPAs) was developed by the Government of Nepal in 2012, under the National Framework for LAPAs (Ministry of Environment, Government of Nepal, 2011). LAPA development is undertaken through Village Development Committees (VDCs) or municipalities, which are the lowest administrative units in Nepal, operating beneath the district level. It is designed as a highly participatory process, with seven steps: sensitization of local people on climate change; vulnerability and adaptation assessment; prioritization of adaptation options; development of an adaptation plan; integrating the LAPA into development planning at local to national levels; implementation of LAPAs; and M&E of LAPAs. In summary, the process involves local people analyzing vulnerability to climate change and identifying adaptation priorities for their locality, which are then integrated into development plans at district and national levels through an iterative process (Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, Government of Nepal, 2012).

To date, over 100 VDCs and municipalities have developed LAPAs (R. Chhetri, personal communication, August 28, 2016), with the process facilitated by both government and civil society actors. While some challenges have been encountered in rolling it out, the LAPA process has been recognized as valuable, particularly in terms of the awareness raised through engagement of community members in dialogue on climate issues and adaptation options (Peniston, 2013) and the mobilization of key government and civil society actors toward adaptation action (Chaudhury, et al., 2014).

Nepal launched its NAP process in September 2015, with a strong commitment to a participatory process (Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, Government of Nepal, 2015). The Ministry of Population and Environment (MoPE), which leads the development of both the NAP and the LAPAs, is committed to applying the learning from LAPAs in the NAP process. This is facilitated by ongoing dialogue between the two teams, which will continue through the advancement of the NAP process and the continued support for LAPA development and implementation in the coming years through the National Climate Change Support Programme (R. Chhetri, personal communication, August 28, 2016).