ECO is thrilled that many countries are calling for more attention to adaptation and its political parity with mitigation. With climate impacts already causing human suffering, and with even more severe threats in the horizon, this is essential.
As countries invest more in adaptation planning (using tools like National Adaptation Plans), some are choosing to communicate their plans and needs by including an adaptation component in their INDCs. Yet, even with these encouraging prospects, there is something missing (even more than predictable, adequate finance from rich countries).
So what’s missing? It’s this: How will we know how much adaptation is taking place and whether it is enough to protect the vulnerable? And where more support is needed? How will support be matched to adaptation needs? Simple: cycles of national adaptation contributions –synchronised with cycles of other contributions, like mitigation and finance.
Regular cycles of communicating planned adaptation action will enable countries to share their priorities and support needs, in addition to facilitating learning. And that’s critical because very country will need to adapt. It will also ground the finance discussion, based on support needs identified from the ground up. And regular cycles will keep that information up to date –creating a merry-go-round of knowledge.
A global conversation about adaptation action will ensure that Parties consider progress towards a global goal for adaptation. ECO sees this goal as a vision of a world where despite climate change, adaptation action ensures that all people and ecosystems are protected, food security and sustainable development are supported, and adequate finance is provided.
Despite all these benefits, there are concerns that cycles of adaptation contributions will become new obligations that poor countries cannot shoulder. But here’s a better way to look at it: contributions would be drawn from existing planning efforts, like NAPs, with support for their preparation to be provided to vulnerable countries that need it. And rest assured, a country’s plans or contributions would not be legally binding. Regular cycles of adaptation communication aren’t about measuring and verifying developing countries’ adaptation efforts against a benchmark. They’re about setting a process that ramps up adaptation action and matches needs with support.
Finally, cycles of adaptation contribution won’t be the only information communicated. Cycles on mitigation, adaptation and finance (including periodic setting of targets for the provision of support toward a target specifically on adaptation) can benefit from synchronicity. This way, a gap in global mitigation ambition will signal a need for greater adaptation action, a heightened focus on expected loss and damage, and a greater scale of predictable finance to address those needs.
Whether ambition, or lack of it, takes us above 3°C or keeps us to no more than 1.5°C –and whether the right countries provide the needed finance –will make a big difference to our world.