A continuum of actions can be taken to reduce the impacts felt from climate change–from ‘pure’ development activities on the one hand to very explicit adaptation measures on the other.
At one end of the continuum, the most vulnerability-oriented adaptation efforts overlap almost completely with traditional development practice, where activities take little or no account of specific impacts associated with climate change. At the opposite end, activities are designed to target distinct climate change impacts, and fall outside the realm of development as traditionally defined. In between lies a broad spectrum of activities with gradations of emphasis on vulnerability and impacts.
In the climate change financing debate, there has been a tendency to emphasize the right side of the continuum, where activities address the ‘additional costs’ of solving problems attributable directly to climate change. Many activities toward the left end of the continuum focus largely on problems not exclusively caused by climate change–yet they represent the very foundation of adaptation to climate change in many places.
Failure to make investments on this “left side” would leave gaps in the landscape of adaptation efforts, especially in regions where people are acutely vulnerable. Thus, while the overarching need for ‘additional’ funding for adaptation is clear, designating these funds exclusively toward actions to address particular climate impacts would leave much-needed interventions unfunded. In other words, adaptation is not just additional to development but often is development.