Even though climate change affects
countries differently, all countries will
need to perform many of the same
adaptation functions, such as climate
information management and public
engagement in adaptation planning. At
the end of 2008, the World Resources
Institute convened a technical workshop
in Bellagio, Italy to begin enumerating a
shared set of critical adaptation functions.
The resulting "Bellagio Framework"
can help identify strengths and gaps in
adaptation capacities in a given country,
as a basis for prioritizing adaptation
actions and investments.
As climate negotiators, international funders, and national governments all
begin to develop climate adaptation agendas, it is getting more urgent to
have a shared approach to identifying priorities for action. A shared approach
could help catalyze coordinated action among diverse funders, and could
provide a common basis for assessing progress in different places. However,
finding a systematic way of identifying priorities at the international level is
hard because of the huge array of potential climate impacts, the different
types of societies they will hit, and the wide range of potential adaptation
strategies and measures.
The Bellagio Framework Approach: Identifying National Adaptation Functions
One approach to this challenge is to identify a set of fundamental functions
that all countries must perform if they are to respond effectively to climate
change. For example, these functions might include things like managing
information needed for adaptation decisions, involving stakeholders in adaptation
planning, creating incentives for the private sector to adapt, or integrating
climate change into disaster risk reduction. Countries will all perform these
functions differently, depending on their national circumstances, but the core
of the function is the same.
The capacities needed to perform key adaptation functions can be thought
of as elements of a national “adaptation system” that will support society in
the long-term, iterative process of adjusting as the climate changes. Unfortunately,
few countries are fully equipped with the information systems, policy
structures, and basic institutions that provide such capabilities. Moreover, to
date there have been few systematic efforts even to enumerate key national
adaptation functions or the activities and capabilities needed to perform them.
Why Do Adaptation Functions Matter?
Failure (thus far) to identify and clearly articulate a core set
of national functions has contributed to widespread confusion
about the overlap between adaptation and development. This
confusion has made it more difficult to build the political will
needed to generate truly additional adaptation funding, both
within the UNFCCC and in funding decisions elsewhere.
Perhaps more important, the lack of a concise, user-friendly
articulation of key adaptation functions increases the difficulty
of building robust, far-sighted national approaches to adaptation.
Decision-makers are lacking:
a framework with which to identify strengths and gaps
in adaptation capacities in a given country, in order to
prioritize actions and investments, and
a reference against which to assess progress on adaptation,
in order to adjust course if necessary.
A First Step: The Bellagio Framework Workshop
In November 2008, the World Resources Institute (WRI)
hosted a small technical workshop to begin developing a
broadly applicable framework of national adaptation functions.
The workshop was held in Bellagio, Italy, with the generous
support of the Rockefeller Foundation. The objective of the
workshop was two-fold:
to identify a core set of major adaptation functions needed
in a broad spectrum of countries, and
to explore options for building progress metrics to assess
effectiveness in performing the functions.
Criteria for the functions framework included:
Flexibility to accommodate national circumstances
Logic and straightforwardness
User-friendliness and common sense
A top-down approach that empowers bottom-up action
Comprehensiveness with regard to key national adaptation
Compatibility with other tools, frameworks, and decision
table in the working paper
lists the key adaptation functions
identified by the workshop participants, which are now
under further development by workshop participants and
Clearly, different stakeholders (e.g., planners, negotiators,
funders, project implementers, NGOs, evaluators) who may
use the framework will focus on different adaptation functions
and will approach them from different perspectives. Moreover,
countries will each build the capacities needed to perform
the functions at different rates and in different sequences.
To address these considerations, WRI is now exploring possible
development of different assessment and planning tools,
based on the functions in the framework. Options for further
Function-by-function guidance to assist policy-makers
and planners, including links to existing tools and relevant
Development of assessment questions for each function,
for use in establishing monitoring and evaluation programs
Institutional analysis to better link each function with the
types of stakeholders or agencies likely to be responsible
“Sector-based” tools that translate the generic framework
into functions specific to health, agriculture, water, and
other issue areas
A key next step is to test the framework---or part of it---through a practical pilot assessment in a developing country.