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 climate and development funding often fails 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.

There is a growing movement for locally led adaptation, a new paradigm where decisions over how, when and where to adapt are led by communities and local actors. More than 40 organizations 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.

With these principles as a foundation, WRI is working with partners to change the way adaptation interventions are designed, financed, implemented and measured, so that local actors are at the center of decision-making. 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.Supporting the Global Commission on Adaptation’s Locally Led Action Track, WRI and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) developed these principles, based on over a year of consultations, to strengthen locally led adaptation. The endorsement in January 2021 signals a commitment to make changes and strengthen existing efforts to meet this urgent adaptation agenda. 

In collaboration with our partners, we will:

  • Nurture and grow a community of practice for locally led adaptation to support peer learning.
  • Engage with more organizations around the Principles for Locally Led Adaptation, with a goal of increasing the number of endorsing organizations to 100 by COP26.
  • Support organizations in putting the principles into practice by establishing metrics and mechanisms for accountability and tracking progress toward locally led adaptation objectives.
  • Continue to develop and test new approaches and initiatives that support the devolution of finance and decision-making power.

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.

Photo credit: UNDP Sri Lanka.