Locally led adaptation (LLA) promotes equitable access to financing and decision-making power for local organizations, communities and other local actors on the front lines of climate change, especially groups that are disproportionately vulnerable to climate impacts. LLA also recognizes the value of local innovation, knowledge, and expertise for effective resilience-building.

Funders and governments are increasingly supportive of locally led adaptation, but making the changes needed to redress power imbalances and center local priorities can be complex and often entails significant shifts from standard practice. This paper provides practical examples and recommendations for financing and implementing locally led adaptation. It helps demystify the steps funders and governments can take to ensure local partners have equitable access to climate finance and are at the center of decision-making processes.

The paper reviews 21 examples of locally led adaptation interventions from programs and policies across Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Caribbean and Latin America. These examples show that there are many proven ways adaptation finance can reach local actors and ensure they have agency over climate resilience efforts. They feature mechanisms such as grants facilities, loan funds, savings schemes, microfinance, national planning policies, domestic finance programs, community-led emergency response and early warning systems, and social protection schemes.

This paper was co-developed by a consortium of partners working together to deliver the Adaptation Action Coalition’s Locally Led Adaptation Workstream. These partners are Centro para la Autonomía y Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas (Center for the Autonomy and Development of Indigenous Peoples), the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute, ENDA, Huairou Commission, the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, the International Institute for Environment and Development, Save the Children Australia, Slum Dwellers International, SouthSouthNorth, and World Resources Institute.


  • As funders and national governments invest in building resilience to climate impacts, many are recognizing the value of locally led adaptation (LLA) to manage climate risks faced by local communities and Indigenous peoples.
  • Locally led action can address historical imbalances of power and disproportionate vulnerabilities that climate change will otherwise deepen.
  • LLA requires governance and financing processes that prioritize the agency of local actors that are on the front lines of climate change impacts and are often best placed to identify adaptation solutions. Changing these processes to redress power imbalances and emphasize local priorities can be complex and difficult, often entailing significant shifts from standard practice.
  • This paper provides examples of approaches to investing in and implementing LLA to demystify the steps funders and governments can take to operationalize and scale adaptation in line with the Principles for Locally Led Adaptation.
  • Funders, governments, and other relevant actors can draw on these approaches to turn investments in and commitments to LLA into new policies, practices, and actions that ensure local partners have equitable access to climate finance and are at the center of decision-making processes.

Recommended Strategies for Advancing LLA

The 21 examples of investing in and implementing LLA described in this paper highlight many approaches across a range of sectors and geographic and sociocultural contexts. Taken together, they lead to the following recommended strategies for how to advance LLA. These proposals apply to all institutions committed to implementing LLA, but they are most relevant to funders and governments.

  • Pursue opportunities to scale LLA by increasing the amount of climate finance allocated to it, improving the quality of finance by making it more accessible and flexible, and adjusting governance and decision-making processes to ensure that local actors have agency in adaptation planning and implementation.
  • Address the Principles for LLA holistically so that adaptation investments, policies, and interventions enable and scale LLA in multiple ways simultaneously.
  • Advance active learning and research on LLA processes, outcomes, and impacts to continue to fill knowledge and evidence gaps and improve collective understanding of good practices for equitable and effective LLA.
  • Integrate social equity in LLA efforts, including by building such considerations into standard processes and decisions, and investing in mechanisms specifically designed to support groups that experience disproportional vulnerabilities.


The first version of this paper inaccurately characterized the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund and the role of CANARI. The current version has been updated to accurately describe the initiative and CANARI’s role.