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Is Adaptation Short-Changed? The Imbalance in Climate Finance Commitments

One of the biggest successes from 2009’s COP 15 conference was securing funding for climate change adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. Donor nations agreed to “provide new and additional resources […] approaching $30 billion for the period 2010–2012, with balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation.” They also committed to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020.  

But the agreement left a key question unresolved: how should funding be “balanced” between adaptation and mitigation? Should the funding balance be 50/50 between adaptation and mitigation or should it based on each country’s needs? Should funding include both private and public sector investment? These are some of the questions that negotiators will need to address during COP 19 in Warsaw.

But whatever they decide as being a “balanced commitment,” one thing is clear: finance for adaptation needs to increase in the coming years.

Within Reach

Strengthening Country Ownership and Accountability in Accessing Climate Finance

This working paper explores the concepts of ownership and accountability in climate finance in detail, and draws on experiences from development effectiveness and more recent experience of...

The Green Climate Fund: From Inception to Launch

A year after its inaugural meeting, the Board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) left its fifth meeting in Paris earlier this month with a collective sense of urgency. The GCF is expected to become the main vehicle for disbursing climate finance to developing nations, so the decisions made at this most recent meeting significantly impact the future of climate change mitigation and adaptation. Encouragingly, Board members stepped up to the important task before them, making progress across several key issues. Their decisions made it clear: The GCF’s inception phase (referred to officially as "the interim period") is over—the focus now is on funding it and launching its operations.

The Difficulty of Defining Adaptation Finance

While working on tracking adaptation finance for our Adaptation Finance Accountability Initiative project, we often get the question “What is adaptation finance?” or “What counts as adaptation finance?” To our embarrassment, we still don’t have a clear answer to either question, other than “Well… finance that funds efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change qualifies as adaptation finance.”

We aren’t the only ones who struggle to define the very issue on which we work. Even some of the definitions that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and multilateral development banks are developing do not provide a complete answer to the question of what types of investment are considered to be adaptation finance.

We decided to do some soul-searching on this subject. While it’s still too complicated to provide a cut-and-dry definition of adaptation finance, we identified three common traits surrounding the issue: Adaptation finance is context-specific, dynamic, and not just about finance.

Unlocking Private Climate Investment

Focus on OPIC and Ex-Im Bank's Use of Financial Instruments...

WRI’s “Climate Finance” series tackles a broad range of issues relevant to public contributors, intermediaries, and recipients of climate finance—that is, financial flows to developing countries to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change impacts. A subset of this series,...

The Norwegian Fast-Start Finance Contribution

Norway is one of the largest contributors to climate finance in the world, relative to the size of its economy. In 2010 and 2011, the majority of Norway’s fast-start finance (FSF) was channeled through multilateral institutions and supported mitigation activities in developing countries, with a...

Bringing together some of the world’s foremost economic experts to contribute to the global debate about economic policy, and to inform government, business and investment decisions.

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