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SEI working paper

Finance for the adaptation of ecosystems to climate change: a review of the Adaptation Fund portfolio

Ecosystem outcomes are of limited importance to almost all projects under this major international climate fund.

Aaron Atteridge, Sandra Tenggren / Published on 24 April 2019
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Atteridge, A. and Tenggren, S. (2019). Finance for the adaptation of ecosystems to climate change: a review of the Adaptation Fund portfolio. SEI working paper. Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

European bee-eaters in Italy. Photo: Tanja_G / Getty Images.

Note: An earlier version of this working paper was published in December 2018. It was updated in April 2019 in response to feedback from the Adaptation Fund Board Secretariat. The Fund has limited scope to influence project priorities, and funded projects are defined by developing countries.

This paper is interested in how much adaptation practitioners and funders focus on how other species adapt to climate change. It examines one of the major international climate funds, the Adaptation Fund, and analyses the extent of funding that has been allocated for activities that address the needs of, and challenges faced by, other species. It also examines how and whether funded activities respond to the priorities emphasised by conservation literature and assesses whether ecosystem resilience was the primary focus of the activities funded.

It finds that very little of the activities supported by the Adaptation Fund are ecosystem-related activities, totaling only about 15% of its allocated funding (as of 2016). Of this, most activities focus on delivering specific ecosystem “services” for people – such as protection against flooding or coastal erosion – rather than for other species. This likely diminishes any positive effects that projects are making towards ecological resilience.

The paper concludes that ecosystem outcomes are of limited importance to almost all projects, even those projects that include some ecosystem-related activities. These findings raise serious questions about whether sufficient or meaningful attention and resourcing is given to how other species and natural ecosystems can adapt to climate change. The authors make recommendations on how climate funds, adaptation planners and project developers can address this.

The authors are grateful to the Adaptation Fund Board Secretariat for their helpful feedback, and to Nella Canales for her contribution to the analysis in this report.


Read the working paper / PDF / 894 KB

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