Principles in Practice: Integrating Adaptation into Long-term Strategies

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Integrating climate change adaptation into long-term planning is key to securing social and economic development, as the impacts of climate change are already affecting development outcomes.

We see this throughout the world as the number of floods and droughts increase in frequency and intensity, threatening livelihoods, human health, economies, and infrastructure. In order to adequately address these emerging climate risks, new ways of planning for the future are required. For example, coastal planning needs to anticipate the effects of sea level rise. Job-creation efforts in rural settings must take into account the impact of climate change on different parts of the value chain and on the resources that feed into the value chain. Take Cambodia and Niger, two countries expected to be impacted severely by climate change, where early steps have been taken to adapt. In Cambodia, agricultural planning is addressing inconsistent water access through promoting private sector investment and the diffusion of green technologies such as solar water pumps and water-efficient irrigation. In Niger, new varieties of drought-resilient seeds have been disseminated along with training and investment to promote the diversification of livelihoods.

Moving forward, in addition to these important steps, countries need to transition from energy-intensive economic growth to low-carbon growth with climate resilience. If we do not address adaptation in development planning decisions in the context of low-carbon growth, the impact of investments will be lost.

It is clear that for many developing countries around the world, adaptation to climate change cannot happen effectively in isolation. It cannot and should not be separated from development. Choosing the appropriate policy instruments to bring about this convergence is essential. Countries can integrate climate change adaptation through a menu of instruments including “long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies” (LTSs) that countries have been invited to communicate to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and national adaptation plans (NAPs). Ultimately, the choice of policy instrument should be grounded in principles that serve the context. The decision should not be whether to apply LTSs or NAPs but how these can be used to allow countries to meet their climate resilience goals most effectively. This needs to be matched by efforts to combine and sequence different sources and types of finance that fit the purpose.

Integrating adaptation into planning serves multiple ends. It offers a means to scale up local adaptation actions. It provides a platform to support and channel private-sector investments. It allows adaptation to be aligned with existing long-term national development plans along with international efforts such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Long-term low-carbon growth with resilience is the vision of most developing countries. This vision is best achieved through integration into long-term strategies.

Countries have already begun to take this step. In Nepal, Local Adaptation Plans of Action (LAPAs) have been developed to integrate climate change priorities into local planning across the country.  These policies are now serving as a foundation for the development of Nepal’s National Adaptation Plan. In the Cook Islands, adaptation and disaster risk reduction have been integrated into the National Sustainable Development Plan (2016–20). Kenya has produced a National Adaptation Plan (2015–30) to support integration into national and county-level planning.

Read more on the WRI Long-Term Climate Strategies Website

Last Updated: 2 May 2018