World Resource Institute

Principles for Locally Led Adaptation

Principles for
Locally Led Adaptation

Local communities are on the frontlines of climate change impacts, yet rarely do they and other local actors have a voice in the decisions that most affect them. We need to shift the status quo from current top-down approaches to a new model where local actors have greater power and resources to build resilience to climate change.

In support of the Global Commission on Adaptation’s Locally Led Action Track, World Resources Institute and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) have developed a set of principles, based on over a year of consultations, to strengthen locally led adaptation. As of January 2021, over 40 organizations have joined us to endorse these principles, committing to make changes and strengthening existing efforts to meet this urgent adaptation agenda.

Read the press release: 40 Governments and Leading Institutions Commit to Support Locally Led Climate Adaptation.

For more information or to get involved, please contact Tamara Coger ( and Ayesha Dinshaw (

Principles for Locally Led Adaptation

The Principles for Locally Led Adaptation are intended to guide the adaptation community as it moves programs, funding, and practices towards adaptation that is increasingly owned by local partners. Through a community of practice, together these organizations will share progress and lessons learned to enhance our understanding of what is needed for effective, equitable locally led adaptation.

View the principles below or download the PDF version.

  1. Devolving decision making to the lowest appropriate level:
    Giving local institutions and communities more direct access to finance and decision-making power over how adaptation actions are defined, prioritized, designed, implemented; how progress is monitored; and how success is evaluated.

  2. Addressing structural inequalities faced by women, youth, children, disabled, displaced, Indigenous Peoples and marginalised ethnic groups:
    Integrating gender-based, economic, and political inequalities that are root causes of vulnerability into the core of adaptation action and encouraging vulnerable and marginalized individuals to meaningfully participate in and lead adaptation decisions.

  3. Providing patient and predictable funding that can be accessed more easily:
    Supporting long-term development of local governance processes, capacity, and institutions through simpler access modalities and longer term and more predictable funding horizons, to ensure that communities can effectively implement adaptation actions.

  4. Investing in local capabilities to leave an institutional legacy:
    Improving the capabilities of local institutions to ensure they can understand climate risks and uncertainties, generate solutions, and facilitate and manage adaptation initiatives over the long term without being dependent on project-based donor funding.

  5. Building a robust understanding of climate risk and uncertainty:
    Informing adaptation decisions through a combination of combination of local, traditional, Indigenous, generational and scientific knowledge that can enable resilience under a range of future climate scenarios.

  6. Flexible programming and learning:
    Enabling adaptive management to address the inherent uncertainty in adaptation, especially through robust monitoring and learning systems, flexible finance, and flexible programming.

  7. Ensuring transparency and accountability:
    Making processes of financing, designing, and delivering programs more transparent and accountable downward to local stakeholders.

  8. Collaborative action and investment:
    Collaboration across sectors, initiatives and levels to ensure that different initiatives and different sources of funding (humanitarian assistance, development, disaster risk reduction, green recovery funds, etc.) support each other, and their activities avoid duplication, to enhance efficiencies and good practice.

Endorsing organizations

The Commission invites any organization to join the 40 organizations that have already endorsed these principles. Endorsing organizations are encouraged to share how they will change or strengthen current practices to better incentivize or support locally led adaptation.

To raise global ambition and action on locally led adaptation, become an endorsing organization by filling out this commitment form and sharing it with us at

The following organizations have endorsed these principles:

List of endorsing organizations includes:
Act Church of Sweden; The Adaptation Fund; BRAC International; Climate Action Network South Asia; Climate Investment Funds; Climate Resilience Justice Fund; DanChurchAid; Friendship; Global Center on Adaptation; Global Environment Facility; Global Network of Civil Society Organizations for Disaster Reduction; Global Resilience Partnership; Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics; Hivos; Huairou Commission; InterAction; International Centre for Climate Change and Development; International Institute for Environment and Development; International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent; International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Columbia University; Irish Aid; ISET International; Islamic Relief Worldwide; Media Awareness and Justice Initiative; Mennonite Central Committee U.S.; Mercy Corps; Mutual Trust Bank of Bangladesh; Oxfam; Pan African Climate Justice Alliance; Participatory Research in Asia; Power for All; Practical Action; Save the Children; Slum Dwellers International; Tebtebba; UK Foreign, Cooperation & Development Office; UN Capital Development Fund; UN Development Programme; Water Aid; Women's Climate Centers International; World Resources Institute; WWF International; Zurich Foundation; Zurich Insurance.


Watch videos below to hear from leaders on why they are endorsing the Principles for Locally Led Adaptation.

Hear from Endorsing Organizations

Watch the Climate Adaptation Summit Locally Led Anchor Event

Learn more about Locally Led Adaptation

Learn more about locally led adaptation through the below resources from WRI and IIED. For more about locally led adaptation at World Resources Institute, visit

WRI Resources
  • Paper: Reshaping Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning for Locally Led Adaptation (Jan 2021)
  • Paper: Locally Led Climate Adaptation: What Is Needed to Accelerate Action and Support? (Jan 2021)
  • Podcast: Promoting Locally Led Adaptation in Climate Action (Dec 2020)
  • Blog: East African Climate Groups Help Fight the COVID-19 Crisis (Dec 2020)
  • Blog: 5 Benefits to Local Action on Climate Resilience (June 2020)
  • Report: Global Commission on Adaptation: Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience (Sept 2019)
  • Blog: Local Communities Aren’t Just Climate Victims. They’re Climate Adaptation Leaders (June 2019)
  • Webpage: Locally Led Action Track webpage

  • IIED Resources
  • Issue Paper: Principles for locally led adaptation: A call to action (Jan 2021)
  • Blog: Locally led adaption to climate change: the start of a 10-year learning journey (Jan 2021)
  • Blog: Raising ambition in locally led action for 2021: calling for business unusual (Nov 2020)
  • Working Paper: Good climate finance guide: lessons for strengthening devolved climate finance (Nov 2020)
  • Briefing: Why local leadership matters (Oct 2020)
  • Briefing: Closing the learning loop in locally led adaptation (July 2020)
  • Briefing: Mechanisms for delivering change (Apr 2020)
  • Briefing: Reforming climate finance (Nov 2019)