The implementation dimension is where adaptation options are prioritized and the plans are put into action. Implementation of adaptation actions will be undertaken by a wide range of actors at different levels, including government line ministries, sub-national authorities, civil society organizations, the private sector and communities. The context-specific nature of adaptation means that much implementation will occur at sub-national levels, with local organizations and communities putting the NAP into action, supported by sub-national authorities. Vertical integration in implementation focuses on ensuring that sub-national actors have the information, resources and capacity they need to implement adaptation, and that national and sub-national actors are coordinating their respective efforts.

Like the planning stage, vertical integration in implementation involves an iterative process that connects the national and sub-national levels, as shown in Figure 4. Implementation strategies are developed to support the plans at the different levels. At the community level, adaptation priorities are identified with participation of vulnerable communities and groups, integrating both indigenous and scientific climate information to ensure that the actions identified address current climate risks and are robust in relation to future scenarios. Community implementation strategies are reviewed and aggregated to feed into sub-national government implementation strategies. These are in turn rolled up into the national implementation strategy. As with planning, the sequencing of these processes will depend on the context. Resources for implementation, such as financial and human resources, are channelled from the national level to sub-national levels. These linkages are represented by the green arrows. This is the typical scenario—in some cases resources may be transferred directly from national or international sources to local organizations or communities and/or resources for adaptation may be generated locally.

As shown in Figure 3, institutional arrangements for implementation (represented by the orange arrow) ensure complementarity and coordination of actions at the different levels, and enable transfer of finance and other resources and services. They also facilitate capacity development, shown by the yellow arrow, enabling the actors at the different levels to fulfill their roles and responsibilities as defined in implementation strategies. Ongoing sharing of information between the different levels, represented by the red arrow, supports efficient and effective approaches to implementation. The ultimate outcome of this dimension is the coordinated and complementary implementation of adaptation actions by government institutions, civil society and private sector actors, communities and individuals, with relevant actions implemented at national and sub-national levels.

Figure 4. Vertical integration in implementation

The following sections provide guidance on addressing key issues and questions related to vertical integration in implementation.

Enabling Factors for Vertical Integration in Implementation

Have mechanisms been established and resources allocated for ongoing coordination between national and sub-national actors?

While everyone generally agrees that coordination is important, it can be difficult to make it happen unless specific resources are allocated for this function. Resources include human resources, such as dedicated teams or specific individuals with the mandate to facilitate communication and collaboration between the central government and sub-national actors involved in implementing adaptation. While we discuss channelling financial resources for implementation to sub-national levels in more depth below, financial resources also allow for meetings between actors at different levels, as well as documentation, translation and communication of information in both directions. These linkages must be viewed as part of the core business of NAP implementation if vertical integration is to be effective.

C3: Enhancing capacity for planning and implementing adaptation

“National adaptation platforms need to facilitate a two-way flow of ideas, information and strategies for resilience building and equitable sharing of costs and benefits. The inputs to and outputs from the platforms need to be meaningful and relevant.”

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

What information is needed by different actors to support efficient and effective implementation of adaptation?

Sharing of climate information must continue throughout the implementation stage, to ensure that sub-national actors have access to the most up-to-date information and data, and that local experiences and observations feed into climate analysis at the national level. Some adaptation actions rely on medium- and short-term information such as seasonal forecasts and early warnings for climate-related hazards such as floods, while other decisions require longer-term projections. Implementation strategies must therefore address the information needs of different actors on different timescales and at different scales. Other information needs during the implementation stage may include, for example, information on new technologies and/or opportunities related to finance (see below for more details).

C3: Enhancing capacity for planning and implementing adaptation

How will capacity of sub-national actors for long-term planning and implementation of adaptation be enhanced?

During NAP implementation, there may be capacity constraints that represent barriers to action at sub-national levels. For effective prioritization of adaptation options, sub-national actors require a solid understanding of current climate risks and future projections, as well as the costs and benefits of different options for diverse stakeholders under a range of scenarios. There may also be technical gaps: for example, key line ministries such as environment, agriculture and water may not have representation at the lower levels of government, which can yield gaps in the practical skills and knowledge necessary for implementation of adaptation. Capacity development for sub-national actors must be incorporated in NAP implementation strategies. This could include, for example, training on climate issues, expert facilitation of prioritization processes to ensure they are inclusive and effective, and/or knowledge exchange and dialogue with sectoral teams responsible for adaptation. You will need to determine specific capacity-building strategies based on your context, the capacity gaps identified and the resources available.

C3: Enhancing capacity for planning and implementing adaptation

Developing Sub-national Adaptation Implementation Strategies

How will adaptation options be prioritized for implementation at sub-national levels?

Adaptation priorities may differ when viewed from the perspective of sub-national stakeholders rather than the national level. To guide implementation, adaptation options identified in the NAP must be prioritized in a way that captures local social, ecological and economic characteristics, using criteria that are agreed upon by all stakeholders. At sub-national levels, criteria may address issues such as impact on adaptive capacity and resilience of vulnerable groups or ecosystems, relevance for local development objectives and/or potential to benefit significant numbers of people, for example. Coordination of sub-national processes is required to ensure that resources for adaptation are targeted where they are needed most, while balancing efforts across regions and between levels and actors. Wherever possible, prioritized adaptation actions should build on and complement existing adaptation and development activities.

C1: Prioritizing climate change adaptation in national planning

Which sub-national actors are best placed to implement adaptation?

It is expected that government institutions will coordinate adaptation actions at sub-national levels. In some cases, they will also take responsibility for some aspects of implementation. In other cases, however, there may be other actors who are better placed to facilitate implementation of adaptation, particularly at the community level. Implementation strategies should therefore clarify roles and responsibilities of NGOs, CBOs, private sector institutions and other relevant actors operating at sub-national levels, based on their networks, capacities and the available resources. This includes clear definition of the scope of decision-making power of different actors in terms of budget, technical options and targeting of interventions, as well as expectations for deliverables and reporting.

C2: Developing a (long-term) national adaptation implementation strategy

What resources do sub-national actors require to implement adaptation?

A key element of developing implementation strategies is evaluating the resources required for priority adaptation options and determining how these can be accessed. This includes financial resources (addressed in the next section), but also other types of inputs such as human resources or materials in the case of infrastructure-related adaptation options. Sub-national actors may require support for costing adaptation priorities and developing resource mobilization strategies to ensure that resource needs have been clearly articulated and that implementation strategies are realistic.

C2: Developing a (long-term) national adaptation implementation strategy

Allocating Funds for Implementation of Adaptation Actions to Sub-national Actors

How can local development funding mechanisms be leveraged to facilitate implementation of adaptation?

In countries where responsibilities for development activities have been decentralized, there may already be mechanisms in place to channel resources to sub-national actors. Where this is the case, you should consider how these mechanisms can be leveraged to enable sub-national authorities and local organizations and communities to access funds for adaptation. This could involve adding a budget line to development budgets for adaptation activities, or a separate mechanism that uses the same procedures. The key is to ensure that mechanisms for funding adaptation action build on existing policies and systems, rather than creating parallel structures that will reduce efficiency and work against integration of adaptation in development plans and processes.

C2: Developing a (long-term) national adaptation implementation strategy

How will sub-national actors be enabled to access international adaptation finance?

It is expected that some adaptation actions will be funded through existing channels, for example through the inclusion of supplementary funds within government budgets for local development. However, it is likely that the additional costs associated with adaptation will require new sources of funding, including from international climate financing mechanisms. You will need to consider how adaptation finance and other funding for implementation of local adaptation actions will be allocated to sub-national actors, down to the lowest feasible administrative level. Mechanisms for channelling finance to sub-national levels must be transparent, with clear policies and procedures and strong linkages to the multistakeholder processes for prioritizing adaptation options and developing implementation strategies. Sub-national actors may require awareness raising on sources of finance (which may include funds allowing direct access for sub-national authorities and/or local organizations and communities) and the requirements to access them, as well as technical assistance for the development of funding proposals and/or facilitation of linkages with potential donors to address finance gaps.

C2: Developing a (long-term) national adaptation implementation strategy

Channelling Climate Finance to the Local Level: The Local Climate Adaptive Living Facility (LoCAL) in Cambodia

LoCAL was designed by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) to address the imbalance between responsibilities for building climate resilience, which rest largely with sub-national authorities, and access to finance for adaptation, which remains limited for these actors.5 LoCAL provides a country-based mechanism to increase awareness and response to climate change at the local level, to integrate climate change adaptation into local governments’ planning and budgeting systems in a participatory and gender-sensitive manner, and to increase the amount of finance available to local governments for climate change adaptation. LoCAL combines performance-based climate resilience grants (PBCRGs), which ensure programming and verification of climate change expenditures at the local level, with technical and capacity-building support. It aims to demonstrate “the effectiveness and efficiency of local government investment in climate change adaptation and resilience” (UNCDF, 2014a). The facility channels international climate finance to local government through existing fiscal transfer systems, providing additional funds to cover the increased costs associated with adaptation investments, based on vulnerability and adaptation assessments and local adaptation plans that are linked with development plans. These budgetary allocations are combined with technical support and capacity development to enable local actors to use the funds effectively. Audits verify that the funds have been used appropriately and expected adaptation results achieved, and the results inform future allocations (UNCDF, 2014b).

In Cambodia, the process of “decentralization and de-concentration” (D&D) formally began in 2002, and has advanced considerably since then. In 2008, the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD) was established, with the mandate to coordinate this process (LoCAL-UNCDF, 2015). In its most recent plan, developed in 2015, the NCDD commits to decentralizing the delivery of core services to districts and municipalities, with a corresponding increase in resources and staff (NCDD, Kingdom of Cambodia, 2014). In this context, the pilot phase of LoCAL worked directly with sub-national governments in two provinces, Battambang and Takeo, to integrate climate change adaptation into decentralized development plans. The process involved vulnerability reduction assessments, adaptation strategy development workshops at district level and cross-province exchange visits. Funds were transferred to the districts on the basis of their adaptation plans, and they were empowered to select the projects that would be supported through performance-based grants. Technical backstopping and monitoring for the projects are provided by the relevant technical officers in the district government. While some challenges were encountered, the evaluation for the pilot phase found that this is a powerful tool for building capacity at the local level to integrate adaptation into planning, and the facility is currently being expanded to other climate-vulnerable provinces (LoCAL-UNCDF, 2015). Currently, NCDD has been nominated as the candidate for the National Implementing Entity (NIE) for Green Climate Fund direct access to secure funds to scale up the initiative (F. Karim, personal communication, September 29, 2016).

5 LoCAL, 2016. Local Climate Adaptive Living Facility. Presentation at Adaptation Futures, Rotterdam, May 11, 2016.