Current adaptation practice falls woefully short than needed and the gap continues to widen, says the report
Global efforts in adaptation planning, financing and implementation are not keeping pace with the growing risks, said the Adaptation Gap Report 2022 by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
According to the report, at least 84% of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), up 5% from last year, have established adaptation plans, strategies, laws and policies. But the financing to turn these plans and strategies into action still isn’t following. International adaptation finance flows to developing countries are 5-10 times below estimated needs and the gap continues to widen, found the report. Combined adaptation and mitigation finance flows in 2020 fell at least $17 billion short of the $100 billion pledged to developing countries. While previous pledges remain unfulfilled, the report estimated that annual adaptation needs are $160-340 billion by 2030 and $315- 565 billion by 2050.
More than eight out of 10 countries now have at least one national adaptation planning instrument, and they are getting better and more inclusive. Nearly 90% of planning instruments analysed display consideration for gender and/or historically disadvantaged groups, such as Indigenous peoples.
The number and volume of adaptation actions supported through international climate funds, multilateral finance, and bilateral donor support continues to rise. These actions are concentrated in the agriculture, water, ecosystems and cross-cutting sectors and primarily address drought, flooding and rainfall variability, mentioned the report.
However, without a step change in support, adaptation actions could be outstripped by accelerating climate risks, which would further widen the adaptation implementation gap, the report warned.
According to the report, global efforts in adaptation planning, financing and implementation continue to make incremental progress, but fail to keep pace with increasing climate risks.
The mitigation link and the need for strong political will
The report pointed out that if mitigation is insufficient, more adaptation will be required and more losses and damages will occur. This makes both mitigation and adaptation intrinsically linked. Therefore, the report recommended taking adaptation and mitigation jointly into account in planning, finance and implementation to enhance the chances for co-benefits and limits potential trade-offs, such as hydropower reducing food security or irrigation increasing energy consumption.
Nature-based solutions like planting and conserving mangroves, restoring salt marshes or protecting peatlands, are encouraged as such climate solutions effectively reduce climate risk and contribute to mitigation.
Noting that the war in Ukraine, global supply shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic have all contributed to an evolving energy and food security crisis, with costs of living as well as inflation surging in many countries across the world, the report mentioned that these crises cannot be allowed to derail international efforts to increase adaptation. Unprecedented political will and far more long-term investments in adaptation are urgently needed to stop the adaptation gap widening.
The authors called for groundbreaking acceleration in scientific research, innovative planning, more and better finance and implementation, increased monitoring and evaluation, and deeper international cooperation.
The upcoming COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, presents a great opportunity for nations to back the strong words said in the Glasgow Climate Pact with strong action on adaptation, mitigation and loss and damage.