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Donor Climate Adaptation Targets: Tools for advocates on the road to COP28

Donor Climate Adaptation Targets: Tools for advocates on the road to COP28

Written by

Lauren Ashmore

Published on

October 12, 2023

Donor Adaptation Scorecards

COP28, which will take place in the UAE in November 2023, is an occasion for global leaders, policymakers, civil society, and representatives of the public and private sectors to join together and set more ambitious targets around climate action. COP28 will see the first Global Stocktake, to evaluate progress toward reaching the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. The event will also see discussions on the New Collective Quantified Goal on Climate Finance and the Global Goal on Adaptation. Looking at existing targets, it remains unclear whether the US$100 billion climate finance goal will be met. While a 2023 joint statement from Canada and Germany expressed optimism that the goal would be met in the same year, data on climate finance for 2023 will not be available until 2025.

To clarify some of the uncertainty around donors’ finance targets, the SEEK Climate team has developed a set of donor adaptation scorecards for four major donors: the EU, the US, the UK and Germany. These scorecards aim to provide advocates, decisionmakers, and members of the public with a toolkit to better understand the climate adaptation finance targets of major donor countries, and the opportunities to advocate for more ambitious adaptation targets. Each scorecard provides an overview of each donor’s relative prioritization of climate adaptation in their climate action, their current adaptation targets compared to historic funding levels, and tailored action opportunities for advocates in the run-up to COP28 and beyond.

Download the Donor Adaptation Scorecards


What is the state of climate adaptation ahead of COP28?

While many discussions around climate have focused on the energy transition and the need to increase financing flows towards mitigation, climate adaptation remains crucial to tackling climate change and its impacts. Many LMICs have adopted National Adaptation Plans and have incorporated adaptation financing needs into their Nationally Determined Contributions. For example, Kenya’s updated NDC estimates that adaptation actions until 2030 will cost approximately US$44 billion. While the government aims to provide 10% of this cost, 90% is reliant on international finance, technology transfer, and capacity building. Therefore, while levels of ambition are high, creating the enabling environment to implement this ambition is very much conditional on international financing flows to adaptation.

How are donors addressing growing climate finance gaps?

According to the UNEP Adaptation Gap Report 2022, global adaptation efforts are not moving quickly enough to effectively tackle increasing climate risks. For partner countries, the adaptation finance gap is approximately five to ten times larger than global adaptation finance flows and continues to grow. In terms of donor action, OECD data show:

  • DAC donors contributed US$22.9 billion in ODA to climate change adaptation in 2021;
  • Germany, France, and Japan were the largest donors of climate adaptation-related ODA in 2021, including both principal and significant funding;
  • The average DAC bilateral allocable ODA committed to climate change adaptation is 29%; and
  • Agriculture, water and sanitation, and environmental protection are the most funded sectors in adaptation.

Learn more about climate adaptation trends on the Donor Tracker Climate page, or check out our Climate Adaptation Commitment Tracker

Broadly, ambition for climate adaptation is lacking. For example, the US set a target of US$3 billion for climate adaptation by 2024. However, research indicates that the US’ fair share of climate adaptation finance should reach US$17.4 billion by 2025. This disconnect between ambition and needs could reflect the politically contested nature of climate adaptation. Adaptation and climate change can be politically contentious issues, such as in the US which has stark partisan divisions on the issue.

At the same time, donors’ commitments are not always specific. Germany, for example, has set the target of increasing annual climate funding to EUR6 billion (US$6.4 billion) by 2025 at the latest, with a balance between adaptation and mitigation finance. However, the exact split implied by “balance” is not made explicit, obscuring the actual amount allocated to climate adaptation.

As competing crises strain donor budgets, there is a growing emphasis on the role of the private sector in mobilizing adaptation finance. This stance is becoming increasingly apparent in donor policies, such as in European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s remarks at the September 2023 Africa Climate Summit, or the US’ May 2023 Clean Energy Economy Action Plan

  • Climate adaptation is often tackled in combination with other sectors: Donors combine climate adaptation with development-related sectors such as gender and health;
  • Within adaptation, agriculture and environmental protection are the major sub-sectors: Agriculture, for example, is often closely linked to food security, and is one of the more climate-vulnerable sectors;
  • Food security is an growing priority across donor countries: The war in Ukraine, rising inflation, and disruptions to global value chains have resulted in the prioritization of food security across the globe;
  • Loss and damage is still not a priority for many donors: While loss and damage gained momentum during COP27 with the creation of a designated loss and damage fund, it remains a low priority for many donor countries, and little has been done to clarify In addition, it is unclear if and how loss and damage will be integrated into donors’ climate finance portfolios; and
  • SSA remains the major target region for climate adaptation finance, but there is also interest in other regions: The EU, for example, has shown a growing interest in Latin America and the Caribbean, releasing a new EU agenda with Latin America and the Caribbean in June 2023, launching green hydrogen partnerships and other adaptation initiatives.

Opportunities for Advocates

In the leadup to COP28, climate adaptation advocates are well-positioned to adopt the following strategies:

  1. Urge leaders to be more ambitious and increase overall commitments and targets. Moments such as COP28 will be key for holding leaders accountable and encouraging increased ambition;
  2. Leverage involvement and engagement in multilateral fora, key upcoming moments in 2023 and beyond. The Spring 2024 World Bank and IMF meetings will be key moments to push for reform of international finance architecture to support climate-vulnerable low- and middle-income partner countries;
  3. Leverage the nexus of adaptation with other sectors and shifting priorities. The issue of food security has become a priority for many donors, offering opportunities for advocates to highlight the need for climate adaptation; and
  4. Engage with existing agencies and initiatives in the adaptation field. Taking the EU as an example, there are opportunities to engage with European Green Deal, the Farm to Fork strategy, the EU’s strategy with Africa, the Post-Cotonou Agreement for EU relations with African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries, and the Global Gateway investment initiative.
Lauren Ashmore

Lauren Ashmore

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