Adaptation & Resilience
Climate Change
Global Issues
Dennis Tänzler, adelphi
USA, Hurricane aftermath
Hurrican aftermath, USA | © John Middelkoop/

As the second week of COP25 in Madrid begins, it is time to stress once more the importance of building momentum for adaptation. At the beginning of the conference, Oxfam published a report outlining the profound impacts of extreme weather events such as flooding and cyclones: more than 20 million people are displaced each year by such events. Meanwhile, Zambia and Zimbabwe are currently facing the worst drought in a century, with tremendous impacts on the Victoria Falls. There is obviously a need for adaptation planning, implementation and financing. However, so far only seventeen countries have presented National Adaptation Plans (NAP) - despite international partners providing important support.

Whereas the international negotiations are bogged down with discussions on how to communicate adaptation activities, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has published a report that outlines in the costs of doing nothing: the bill for climate-linked disasters alone could reach $20 billion every year by 2050. At the same time, the Global Commission on Adaptation found that there are tremendous co-benefits to adaptation activities: e.g. supporting early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture, mangrove protection, and investments in resilient water resource management. Adaptation activities could generate USD 7.1 trillion in total net benefits – but an initial investment of USD 1.8 trillion is needed.

It remains enormously challenging to effectively steer financial resources to the local level, where they are most needed. This is particularly alarming because vulnerabilities to the effects of climate change are highly localised, and the greatest impacts will be seen on the local level. Nevertheless, despite their needs, local entities often lack the financial resources to plan and implement adequate adaptation measures. In a recent analysis, adelphi shed some light on promising elements of so-called elevator functions – these are specific strategies or operating principles within programmes that aim to channel funding effectively through vertical administrative levels from the international to the local level, where the money can have maximum impact. The report also found widespread agreement that the bottom-up approach to adaptation needs to involve businesses and stakeholders on the ground in emerging and developing countries. This is essential for driving climate adaptation finance as local companies and communities are directly affected by climate change. Here, innovative bottom-up adaptation financing approaches are necessary – e.g. the approach taken for Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the context of the SEED initiative.

These are only two of the many possible entry points for informing adaptation governance as well as international negotiations in Madrid and beyond, and to ensure appropriate responses to the ongoing climate emergency.

Natasha Vizcarra, Global Landscapes Forum

Now in its second decade, the ambitious African Union–led restoration initiative known as the Great Green Wall has brought close to 18 million hectares of land under restoration since 2007, according to a status report unveiled by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) at a virtual meeting on Monday, 7 September.

Adaptation & Resilience
Global Issues
Anne Hammill, IISD

Though focused on climate change, National Adaptation Plans offer important assessments of the risks a country faces and can be valuable in devising comprehensive pandemic response strategies.

Global Issues
Raquel Munayer, adelphi

As part of this year’s online World Water Week at Home, adelphi and IHE Delft convened the workshop "Water diplomacy: a tool for climate action?". The workshop reflected on the role that foreign policy can play in mitigating, solving and potentially preventing conflicts over the management of transboundary water resources, especially in a changing climate.

South America
Adriana E. Abdenur, Igarapé Institute

The Cerrado, a tropical savannah region located in Central Brazil, is nearly half as large as the Amazon and a deforestation hotspot. Yet little attention is paid to this important biome. That has to change.