Most public policy measures require some level of funding, and climate change adaptation policy is no exception – whether it concerns new investments to climate-proof infrastructure, relocation of communities in flood-prone areas, developing information and guidance material, or hiring additional government staff to plan for adaptation.

While funding for adaptation measures can come from many sources and take many forms, over time “adaptation finance” has become shorthand for a particular type of funding: the transfer of funds, including mobilization of new finance, from the North to support activities in the South, on the basis of equity principles politically negotiated and adopted under the UNFCCC.

Developing countries have consistently demanded commitment by developed countries to provide adaptation finance in order to ensure climate justice and as a precondition for developing countries to make mitigation commitments.

As such, adaptation finance not only supports concrete adaptation activities or investments, but also serves a legitimacy and credibility purpose critically important to the success of the climate regime at large.

In this chapter of the book Research Handbook on Climate Change Adaptation Policy, Åsa Persson and Aaron Atteridge explore how the practice of adaptation finance is influencing what is seen as “adaptation”. They discuss some of the practical and political (economy) influences over the behaviour of adaptation finance, and how these materially shape what adaptation looks like on the ground.