The IPCC’s Working Group II report warned that climate change impacts and risks were becoming increasingly complex and more difficult to manage, and that climatic and non-climatic risks would interact and result in risks cascading across sectors and regions.

Transboundary climate risks differ in their type and complexity. In terms of type, risks can manifest through shared resources and ecosystems, trade links, the movement of people across borders, financial flows and investments, and shared infrastructure. In terms of complexity, transboundary climate risks can be common to two or more neighbouring countries. They can also cross borders and be shared between two or more neighbouring countries. Finally, transboundary climate risks can also affect systems such as commodity markets. These risks then impact several countries that do not share common borders through that system. Climate impacts thus “teleconnect” countries. In the case of teleconnections, the number of countries involved and the distance that risk travels between them determine the complexity of the risk. 

But multilateral adaptation finance continues to treat climate risk largely as a local phenomenon, focusing on enabling adaptation at local scales.

The authors used SEI’s Aid Atlas platform to analyze adaptation projects funded by three major multilateral climate funds: the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Adaptation Fund (AF) under the UN Climate Convention, and the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) under the World Bank.

The authors examined the extent to which these funds support projects addressing climate risks in more than one country, identifying regional and multi-country adaptation projects approved between 2010 and 2020. They found that most funding is directed to countries on an individual basis for specific national or local projects (Figure 2). The GCF and CIFs committed only a small percentage of overall funding to regional projects. The AF committed about a quarter of all funding.