Communities are on the frontlines of climate change impacts, yet they rarely have a voice in decisions over how to protect themselves from those impacts. International and national-level decision-makers predominately drive adaptation interventions. International climate and development funding and adaptation finance often fail to reach the local level.

This dual lack of agency and funding is especially harmful for people living in poverty. Climate change is expected to push more than 130 million people into extreme poverty by 2030, making the situation increasingly challenging over time.

Given the right resources, partnerships, information, voice and agency, local people offer huge untapped resilience-building potential to deliver more context-specific, coherent, accountable, democratic, agile, diverse and cost-effective adaptation solutions.

There is a growing movement for locally led adaptation (LLA), a new paradigm where local actors and communities lead decisions over how, when and where to adapt. LLA recognizes the value of local knowledge and expertise to address climate risk and ensures that local actors on the front lines of climate change have equitable access to power and resources to build resilience.

Locally led adaptation is also a growing priority as donors, governments and intermediary organizations recognize their responsibility to make sure adaptation solutions are designed and implemented in a way that is equitable, informed by local priorities and inclusive of local knowledge and expertise.

With the Principles for Locally Led Adaptation as a foundation, WRI is working with partners globally to change the way adaptation interventions are designed, financed, implemented and measured in order to center the decision-making on local actors and communities experiencing the impacts. . Our aim is to transition away from the archetype of communities and local groups as beneficiaries of climate and development finance, and toward a more equitable standard of local actors as partners in delivering adaptation objectives, experts in adaptation solutions and leaders in building resilience. We see that locally led adaptation helps to advance climate justice by promoting just and inclusive climate action.

As of September 2022, more than 100 organizations have endorsed a set of Principles for Locally Led Adaptation. WRI is working with partners to foster a community of practice for locally led adaptation and support organizations in putting these principles into practice.

In collaboration with partners around the globe, we are:

  • Nurturing and growing a community of practice for locally led adaptation to support peer learning, accountability and collaboration.
  • Engaging globally with more organizations around the Principles for Locally Led Adaptation to reach more national governments.
  • Developing and disseminating a body of knowledge and evidence around LLA good practices and outcomes. Our research aims to support effective LLA action and provide practical examples and recommendations for financing and implementing locally led adaptation.
  • Developing and testing new approaches and initiatives that support the devolution of finance and decision-making power and help put the principles for LLA into practice.
  • Establishing metrics and mechanisms for accountability and tracking progress toward locally led adaptation objectives.

Through these efforts, WRI will grow the body of evidence about the quality of financing and decision-making processes for locally led adaptation, as well as the effectiveness and impacts of these interventions.


Cover Image by: UNDP Sri Lanka