Climate adaptation programs support country response to and build resilience against the effects of climate change, including extreme and frequent weather events such as intolerable heat, droughts, floods, fire, sea-level rise, and acidification. Funds also reduce the impact of climate impacts on critical infrastructure, agricultural productivity, and public health.
What does it buy?
Funds support efforts including preventing storm surges in coastal communities, stabilizing areas prone to landslides following fire and floods, reducing pollution, preventing disasters, improving soil health, and reducing food insecurity through regenerative, sustainable agriculture.
Why is it important?
Low-income countries are often at greater relative risk to climate change impacts due to reliance on natural resources as part of traditional livelihood and food security systems, lack of funding, institutional challenges, and increasing resource scarcity.
Indigenous Peoples, low-income communities, coastal and small-island residents, women and girls, people with special needs, and the elderly are predicted to experience the worst of climate impacts.
In sub-Saharan Africa alone, the IMF has found that climatic change currently affects 13 million people and causes $520 million in direct economic damages annually.
In Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia alone, 143 million people could be forced into climate change-induced migration by 2050.
Without adaptation, climate change may depress growth in global agriculture yields up to 30% by 2050, affecting more than 500 million small farms globally.
The number of people who currently lack sufficient water for at least one month per year is projected to soar from 3.6 billion today to more than 5 billion by 2050.
At current global greenhouse emission rates, in the next 50 years, 1 to 3 billion people could be displaced due to changing climate conditions.
Climate impacts are already threatening U.S. investments in development. Proactively investing in developing countries’ ability to prepare for climate impacts saves lives and money.
Preparedness is vastly cheaper than reaction. Adaptation investments consistently deliver high returns, with benefit-cost ratios ranging from 2:1 to 10:1.
The Global Commission on Adaptation estimates that $1.8 trillion invested in five areas from 2020-2030 could generate $7.1 trillion in net benefits. These areas include early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture, mangrove protection, and investments in making water resources more resilient.
Globally, governments will invest over $14 trillion in crisis relief by the end of 2020, yet most stimulus packages have not incorporated climate adaptation into recovery plans.
With the dual threats of COVID-19 and climate change, it has never been more urgent to address the underlying causes of vulnerability, reduce risk, and build resilience.
What more could be done?
Increased funding commitments for Adaptation will ensure previously set development goals are not derailed and avoid economic losses due to climate impacts.
Funding for Adaptation should increasingly focus on work that is locally-led, ensuring decision-making power rests with frontline communities already experiencing these realities.
Funding levels may not accurately reflect those in the appropriations bills and/or reports due to rounding.