“The report makes very clear that countries need to urgently ramp up the ambition and effectiveness of adaptation action around the world,” says Richard Klein, Senior Research Fellow at SEI. ”We also need greater understanding of what works best to achieve effective adaptation so that the investments made have meaningful impact. For that, we are now undertaking work to examine the effectiveness of adaptation funds.”

The UNEP report shows a huge financing gap when it comes to adaptation projects. ”This shows that we need to take a much wider view of what is today considered ‘climate finance’, and start advancing the Paris Agreement’s broader goal of making all financial flows consistent with a low-emission, climate-resilient future. This would mean that public actors embrace their role as de-riskers of investments, and that funds are used strategically, including to leverage much larger private investments,” says Klein.

”2020 was recently found to be on par with 2016 as the warmest year on record. As glaciers retreat  and hurricanes and tropical storms reach record numbers , the need to adapt is now as urgent as the need to mitigate,” says Klein. But the COVID-19 pandemic has also made it abundantly clear that one country’s resilience is the product of all countries’ resilience. Adaptation is not a question only for developing countries: Climate risks leap across sectors and national boundaries, impacting access to food supplies, migration and other transboundary issues and thereby affecting industrialized countries and those themselves at low risk from the physical impact of climate change. That’s why we need new global cooperation on adaptation.”

Pieter Pauw, SEI Affiliate based at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, is the lead author of Chapter 4 on finance of the Adaptation Gap Report.