Why planning for adaptation is important to Europe and Central Asia

By Umberto Labate, Portfolio Management Specialist, Climate Change Adaptation, UNDP

In Europe and Central Asia climate change threatens to unravel the development advancements attained throughout the last quarter of the century. Countries in the region agree that the damaging impacts of climate change and the related costs will not be prevented by simply implementing stand-alone, ad-hoc, piecemeal adaptation measures, rather by making climate change and adaptation an integral part of their systematic medium- and long-term planning and budgeting processes.

Climate change cannot be addressed as a narrow sectoral issue. Therefore, a whole-of-government response is essential. This will require cooperation, planning and action across government sectoral ministries and agencies, from finance to agriculture, from education to foreign affairs. “Armenia has learned the value of involving all stakeholders for any planning and implementation, which is also a guarantee for strong political will, support and a favourable environment," according to  Mr. Artsvik Minasyan, Minister of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia.

As outlined in several Nationally Determined Contributions as well as national, local and sectoral planning strategies, countries in the region are advancing the integration of adaptation considerations into their policies as part of their efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve other goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. However, many countries still lack the resources required for long-term, iterative and progressive adaptation planning and implementation.

What countries are doing about it and how UNDP is supporting them

To address the regional threats of climate change outlined in the new UNDP publication on Climate Change Adaptation in Europe and Central Asia – and build the enabling environments needed to develop more effective climate change adaptation actions – countries throughout the region have agreed to a medium-to-long-term, multi-dimensional, and multi-sectoral task to to reduce vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, by building adaptive capacity and resilience; and to facilitate the integration of climate change adaptation, in a coherent manner, into relevant new and existing policies, programmes and activities, in particular development planning processes and strategies, within all relevant sectors and at different levels, as appropriate, as an opportunity to enhance capacity to adapt to climate threats through the National Adaptation Plans process.  

As a part of UNDP’s Signature Programme to “Strengthen effective, inclusive and accountable governance,”  UNDP is supporting countries in the ECA region to build effective National Adaptation Plans by supporting requesting countries to identify, categorize, assess, finance, implement and monitor evolving adaptation needs, develop national strategies and action plans to adapt to climate change, and access and use dedicated climate finance for the identification and implementation of prioritized adaptation activities.

Since 2014, through the joint UNDP-UN Environment National Adaptation Plans Global Support Programme (NAP-GSP), UNDP, together with its partners, has worked with 14 ECA countries to take stock of institutional and policy status on adaptation, identify gaps and needs, sensitize national teams and institutions on adaptation planning and budgeting through multi-stakeholder dialogues, and share experiences from other countries.

In addition, based on the groundwork from the NAP-GSP, UNDP has provided technical support to 13 ECA countries to access climate finance to advance their NAPs, through the identification of activities for the formulation of GCF project proposals.

GCF-financed National Adaptation Plans projects in the region

As of August 2018, nine proposals have been submitted and are under the review of the GCF, and two have been approved.

The National Adaptation Plan (NAP) to advance medium and long-term adaptation planning in Armenia project will support the Government of Armenia to develop a national plan for climate change adaptation through an iterative process focused on strengthening foundational capacities to ensure they are institutionalized for long-term sustainability. The project aims to address existing barriers, support the prioritization of climate change adaptation investments in the priority sectors identified in the country’s NDC, including water resources, agriculture, energy, health, tourism and human settlement, and increase the identification of finance options. It will do so by strengthening the evidence base around risks and vulnerabilities for decision-making/to identify, assess and prioritize adaptation options.

The project to Advance the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process for medium-term investment planning in climate sensitive sectors in Bosnia-Herzegovina (B&H) will support the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to advance the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process and reach goals outlined in the Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. GCF resources will be used to enable the government to integrate climate change-related risks, coping strategies and opportunities into ongoing development planning and budgeting processes. An important feature of this project is its aim to establish innovative mechanisms to finance adaptation in the long-term at the sub-national/local levels through the development of a financing framework that assesses existing market barriers, identifies appropriate de-risking strategies, and incentivizes and empowers municipal and private sector/domestic markets’ investments/capital.