The history of climate change finance for developing countries is littered with disappointments and broken promises that have eroded trust to an unprecedented level. This policy brief seeks to help explain the lack of trust and how it affects discussions on adaptation finance.

Adaptation finance to date has been in the order of millions of US dollars, but it is expected to amount to billions within a few years. This raises the importance of ensuring equity, transparency and accountability. A shared perspective of countries on these issues is important not only so that they can begin to rebuild trust, but also to ensure that money is used effectively and efficiently.

Key findings:

  • Adaptation finance is expected soon to amount to billions of US dollars, provided through a myriad of channels, each with different policies, rules and procedures. This raises the importance of ensuring equity, transparency and accountability in the generation, governance, delivery and use of the money.
  • Climate finance is meant to be ‘new and additional’, but there is no common definition of that term. Developing countries generally define it as resources above official development assistance (ODA) targets, but developed countries also often report their contributions to adaptation finance as ODA. In the absence of clear guidance, it will be difficult to prevent the double-counting.
  • The allocation of adaptation finance is meant to prioritise developing countries that are ‘particularly vulnerable’ to climate impacts, but there is no consensus on what the term means, or which countries qualify.
  • There is no common metric to monitor and evaluate the use of adaptation finance. The choice of indicators and baselines is crucial for accountability.

Note: This policy brief summarises and updates the chapter ‘Show me the money: Ensuring equity, transparency and accountability for adaptation finance’ , which was published by Transparency International in its recent Global Corruption Report: Climate Change. For additional context, see the article ‘The political dimension of vulnerability: Implications for the Green Climate Fund’ , which appeared in IDS Bulletin 42:3, pp. 15–22. This research has contributed to the objectives of AdaptationWatch .

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