Adapting to the impacts of climate change

Video: The funding area "Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change" in a nutshell

The consequences of climate change can be felt around the world. Extreme weather events such as: flooding, hurricanes and heatwaves, are heavily impacting some countries and populations who lack resources to mitigate these disasters.

Through its funding area ‘Adapting to the impacts of climate change’, International Climate Initiative (IKI) is supporting vulnerable countries and regions to strengthen their adaptability to the consequences of climate change. 

While focusing primarily on ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) and national adaptation plans (NAPs), the funding area also encompasses other topics such as instruments for the risk management of extreme climate-related events and community-based adaptation to the impacts of climate change (CBA). Approaches related to this adaptation, for example in the sectors of agriculture and land usage, urban development, sustainable financing and private enterprise, are also supported by IKI projects.

By 2020, over 135 projects had been approved within the area of adaptation to climate change impacts.

Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA)

Ecosystems provide a wealth of benefits for the humans. These include, for example maintaining soil fertility, ensuring a supply of clean water and protection against flooding or erosion. These ‘ecosystem services’ can also reduce the impacts of climate change.

Within funding area III, ‘Preserving and restoring natural carbon sinks’, landscape-based approaches supplement the EbA strategy.

Learn more about the approach and watch the video "What is ecosystem-based adaptation?

Focus on the impacts for humans 

The concept of ecosystem-based adaptation encompasses the use of biodiversity, natural resources and their ecosystem services in order to increase the adaptability of humans to the impacts of climate change. Oriented on humans, EbA is an approach that treats natural resources as supplementing or substituting for other kinds of adaptation measures.

This approach looks explicitly at current and future changes to the climate, and highlights their impacts on people and ecosystems. In this way, EbA differs from the conventional approaches used in the management of natural resources and biodiversity.

Cost-effective adaptation 

EbA measures are effective in many different ways. Beyond their immediate benefits for adaptation, they also offer many other advantages in terms of income, security of supply and well-being for the people affected by the consequences of climate change. Often, EbA also enables comparatively cost-effective adaptation options, as the costs for ecosystem restoration are frequently lower than technical solutions that aim to increase adaptability by the same magnitude.

In the field, EbA is typically part of a wider-ranging adaptation strategy and should be integrated proactively into existing planning processes such as in land use. An example is improved management, carried out with the protection or rehabilitation of mangrove forests and coral reefs. If these ecosystems are stable, they protect coastal areas from storm damage and the consequences of rising sea levels.

Accounting for the effects of EbA measures 

Ecosystem-based measures may call for far-reaching decisions, for example in cases where protected habitats limit the usage of resources. Accordingly, risk assessments, scenario planning and the management of adaptation measures must therefore form part of decision-making, in order to identify and properly account for impacts.

IKI funds projects that pilot specific EbA approaches in the field, and then process and disseminate the findings obtained. The BMU uses the insights gained in these projects as input for international negotiation processes. Practical experience of the utility of EbA measures and their cost/benefit ratio compared with other adaptation measures is also applied to further develop the EbA model.

Selected projects

Restoration and co-management of degraded dunes and mangroves

Climate Change Adaptation in the Caribbean: The EbA-Facility

Mainstreaming EbA - Strengthening ecosystem based adaptation in decision making processes

Ecosystem-based Adaptation and forest restoration in the Caribbean

Supporting national adaptation plans to strengthen climate resilience

For developing economies, national adaptation plans (NAPs) and strategies that have been coordinated to the country’s development priorities form an important basis for strengthening the nation’s resilience to the adverse effects of climate change.

The NAP process was initiated in 2010 as part of the Cancún Adaptation Framework. The aim of this process is to support all developing economies with finances to cover their medium and long term adaptation needs. Furthermore, the process focuses on the least developed countries. The NAP process allows government institutions to identify and prioritise adaptation measures in all sectors, to operationalise preventive measures, and to assign public funds in accordance with climate risks.

IKI helps partner countries to develop and implement national adaptation plans. Key focal points of this funding include:

  • Optimising approaches to land usage; 
  • Management of water resources and coastal zones; 
  • Integration of adaptation aspects with sector strategies; 
  • Mainstreaming national development and investment plans.

Frequently, the measures described for ecosystem-based adaptation and risk management also form part of national adaptation plans. 

Selected projects

Using scientific information databases to support national adaptation plan processes in sub-Saharan Africa

Integration of the agricultural sector in national adaptation planning processes

Supporting Brazil in implementing its national agenda for adaptation to climate change

Instruments for risk management – innovative insurance solutions for insuring against weather risks

Climate models (IPCC 2014) indicate that climate change is causing changes in weather events in a number of regions around the globe. These events may include prolonged periods of drought, heatwaves, torrential rain or storms. Extreme weather events of this kind are capable of having devastating and direct impacts on people’s lives, businesses and infrastructure or the wider economy in affected regions. If extreme weather causes crops to fail, smallholders may lose the economic basis for their livelihoods, while the public funds becomes stretched to the limit by providing disaster relief and financing the recovery of the regions affected. 

Reducing economic risks 

Insurance policies offering protection against the effects of climate-driven extreme weather can minimise economic risk, while at the same time offering rapid support to people seeking to rebuild their businesses. This applies at both an individual and macroeconomic level. In particular, IKI is funding projects that combine insurance products with preventive measures for adapting to climate change. This offers a chance to reduce potential damage following the occurrence of extreme weather events while providing support for rapid recovery from damage and losses. 

In selected regions, many IKI projects are working to develop innovative insurance solutions and risk provisioning strategies. These projects are also financing the development of legal frameworks, promoting cooperation from policymakers and insurance companies, and supporting the development of catastrophe models for mitigating damage and losses caused by extreme weather. In this way, the projects are improving both income and food security for local populations, as well as creditworthiness and purchasing power for individuals and businesses. Simultaneously, this work also makes an important contribution to the quantification of weather-driven damage and losses—data that is usable by stakeholders from the insurance industry, government and the wider economy.

Selected projects

Climate Risk Insurance and Adaptation in the Caribbean

Applying seasonal climate forecasting and innovative insurance solutions to climate risk management

Oasis Platform for Climate and Catastrophe Risk Assessment

Further Information

Building Capacity for Ecosystem-based Adaptation

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Building Capacity for NAPs 

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