Planning for Paris

Through improved climate change adaptation planning, countries across the world trigger climate actions to reach the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

By Rohini Kohli

Our final destination is clear. We want a world without hunger, a world without inequalities, and a world without fear. We want to protect our people and our planet from rising seas and rising temps. We want to insulate our economies and institutions from increases in extreme weather events, droughts and floods, mass migration, war and famine.

We know where we want to go. Now we need to roll up our sleeves and find out how to get there.  

In 2015, countries signed on to a global covenant in Paris that includes Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Adaptation to climate change featured as priority in the NDCs of many developing countries. Instruments such as National Adaptation Plans and long-term strategies provide the way.

The key here is detailed planning on local, national and international levels, and building the strong institutions, policies and frameworks we need to reach the goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda, Paris Agreement, Sendai Framework and other international accords. Feedback between local, national and global stakeholders will be essential in triggering effective actions at scale.

Our goals on climate change – and our work across the United Nations Development System to use MAPS (Mainstream, Accelerate, Policy Support) to achieve goals for Zero Hunger and Zero Poverty – all interconnect.

Reducing greenhouse gasses and protecting our environment will be central. Government-led efforts to reduce poverty, provide education and ensure no one is left behind are equally important.

And, because we live in the real world, where current rises in global temperatures and other climate impacts are already disrupting economies, displacing people and undermining sustainable development efforts, we need to take a real-world approach to climate action and the Paris agreement by supporting countries to adapt to our changing climate.

There are various means to get to our final destination, and providing support for countries in delivering National Adaptation Plans will be an important step. These plans are the essential signposts toward achieving the Paris Goals on climate adaptation, and continued work needs to be done to move them forward.

What are National Adaptation Plans and how do they fit within Paris?

Under the Paris Agreement, the world came together to articulate a clear global goal for adaptation centered on enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability.  

In reaching the Paris Goals, these actions should follow a country-driven approach, be gender responsive, inclusive and transparent. They should be based on the best available science and traditional knowledge, and they should recognize the urgent and immediate needs of developing countries that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

The mandate for improved adaptation planning as articulated in the Paris Agreement is clear. Article 7.9 tells us: “Each Party shall, as appropriate, engage in adaptation planning processes and the implementation of actions, including the development or enhancement of relevant plans, policies and/or contributions.”

National Adaptation Plans support this mandate, and in effect, become the implementation arm for adaptation under Nationally Determined Contributions.

What steps are being taken

UNDP’s support for National Adaptation Plans comes from several innovative programmes. These programmes provide broad-based support to adaptation planning processes through our Global Support Programme (NAP-GSP) with UN Environment, as well as specialized attention to specific sectors, such as agriculture, through our Integrating Agriculture in National Adaptation Plans Programme (NAP-Ag), a joint effort with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. These various programmes are funded through the Global Environment Facility, and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. UNDP also currently supports 41 nations in accessing dedicated Green Climate Fund (GCF) finance for National Adaptation Plans.

This work means that gender is being integrated into adaptation plans and supporting the peace process in Colombia. It means that decision makers in Thailand are better able to understand the costs-and-benefits of climate change adaptation initiatives and make better decisions. It means technical staff in government departments have access to tools and training to make agricultural policies that adapt to our changing climate. It means farmers and decision makers will be able to use climate information to build more effective food systems. It means new partnerships to build more effective local climate governance. And it means that in places like Armenia, Bangladesh and Uruguay, the groundwork is being laid to build more effective National Adaptation Plans, and implement policies, planning and budgetary frameworks that support prioritized actions for Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement.

This support will pave the way for a whole new generation of climate resilience actions. In Armenia, for instance, with stronger institutions and better policies, a new GCF-financed project is underway to Scale-Up Investments in Energy Efficient Buildings. In Bangladesh, a new proposal was recently approved by the GCF to enhance the adaptive capacities of coastal communities to cope with climate change induced salinity. GCF also approved a new project from the Government of Zambia to improve agricultural resilience for 1 million farmers. In Colombia, gender-responsive adaptation plans and evidence-based policies will be used to scale up climate resilient water management practices and integrate agricultural issues into adaptation plans.

Improved adaptation planning will fuel the scaling up of these broader initiatives, providing the enabling environments requisite for true transformational change.

It will be easy to get lost on our way to low-emission climate-resilient development. By supporting countries worldwide in building more effective adaptation plans, our hope is that we will have a roadmap that connects information with action, policy with impact, and people with empowerment.

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Portrait of Rohini Kohli
Lead Technical Specialist for National Adaptation Plans, UNDP