Learning to Adapt:
Taking Action on Lessons Emerging Through
the NAP Global Network
One of the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Global Network’s objectives is to support sustained peer learning and exchange among countries around the world on the NAP process. This piece looks at how the Network has worked with three countries in our first peer group of Targeted Topics Forum countries—Grenada, Albania, and the Philippines—to facilitate continuous learning and action based on lessons that emerge from Network activities.
Climate change is already beginning to have an impact on livelihoods in many developing countries.
While countries urgently need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions to prevent the worst effects of global warming, the question isn’t whether or not we’ll need to adapt to the effects of climate change, but to what extent? As communities come to terms with a more variable climate in which extreme weather events are more frequent and more intense, we urgently need strategies to safeguard vulnerable communities and ecosystems.
Important lessons are emerging as countries begin engaging in the National Adaptation Plan process, which was created by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to guide countries’ medium- to long-term planning for climate change adaptation. The NAP process is designed to be country-driven and each country’s NAP will be unique, tailored to address the specific adaptation challenges it faces.
But given the urgency with which vulnerable countries need to adapt to climate change, it is vital that these lessons and best practices reach an audience of international adaptation planners so that adaptation efforts can keep pace as new climate threats emerge.
South-South peer-learning on national adaptation planning is one of the key aims of NAP Global Network, which was created two years with funding from the United States and Germany.
The NAP Global Network is supporting countries to learn from their peers, and creating opportunities for participants to act on the lessons that emerge from these exchanges.
Representatives from Grenada, Albania and the Philippines were among the first peer group of adaptation planners from developing countries to participate in the NAP Global Network’s first Targeted Topics Forums (TTFs) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July 2015.
Each TTF looks at specific challenges that countries commonly encounter during the NAP process, and the key challenge that this TTF addressed was: how can governments integrate adaptation planning into integrate sector planning?
Through discussions, we learned that there is a spectrum of approaches that countries are taking to initiate integration of adaptation considerations across sectors.
In Grenada, we heard about a sector-led approach: sectors had already begun integrating adaptation considerations into strategies and plans with the support from the Environment Division in the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and development partners. What was missing was a coordinated and coherent approach at the national level. Through the NAP process, Grenada is taking stock of ongoing adaptation efforts to identify gaps and priorities for climate-proofing its national development plan.
By contrast, the Philippines took a nationally driven approach to initiating integration of adaptation across sectors: they developed a National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) outlining national long-term program and strategies for adaptation in line with its national development plan. The Philippine Climate Change Commission coordinates involvement of stakeholders from relevant national agencies and ministries, and also created a “People’s Survival Fund Board” to finance adaptation programs and projects by local government units and communities in support of climate change priorities.
From Albania, we heard about a hybrid of the above approaches that was driven by both the sectors and a national coordinating body. The country will developed a draft umbrella document to provide national-level policy orientation on mainstreaming climate change adaptation. The document will include priority areas for adaptation, provide concrete conceptual steps and tools for mainstreaming, and identify steps for accessing national and international climate finance for implementation. Sectors are expected to use this document to bolster efforts to integrate adaptation considerations into their own plans and policies.
Discussing this spectrum of approaches to integrating adaptation across many sectors gave countries engaged in the NAP process ideas for enhancing their own approach.
Laureta Dibra—the Head of Air, Climate Change and Chemical Sector in Albania’s Ministry of the Environment—said: “Listening to the experience of Grenada, one of the most important lessons from our point of view was the mainstreaming of adaptation into sectoral plans as well as the integration of the adaptation into the water sector and coastal zone management.”
Six months after their first meeting, the NAP Global Network brought adaptation planners from the same peer group of countries back together. The second TTF focused on a new common challenge in the NAP process: how to finance a NAP’s implementation.
In a presentation at this forum, Martina Duncan—Grenada’s Climate Change Focal Point—emphasized that a key question is whether its implementation will be driven by domestic funds or support from development partner agencies.
She said, “For us, the answer lies in between: A NAP is both a process that guides a country efforts in climate-resilient development internally, and is also a 'fund-raising' document that helps gain external funds.”
Ms. Duncan said that the breadth of their consultation process expanded as a result of her participation in the Kingston TTF on NAP financing: “I realized that we didn’t have strong community-based organization (CBO), civil society, or private sector engagement in our adaptation processes at the decision-making level or at the National Climate Change Committee level. So we actually addressed that and we do now have both private sector and civil society represented on our National Climate Change Committee as well as our project steering committees for the projects.”
Ms. Duncan and her colleagues took action to expand Grenada’s NAP can to reflect private sector perspectives including the electricity company and local hotels, as well as civil society groups like the Carriacou Farmers Association.
The Philippine’s leadership on using its domestic budget to finance climate change adaptation was of particular interest to a number of participants, including those from Albania: The Philippines reported spending 5 per cent of its national budget on climate change expenditures in 2015. The country is also channeling funds to Local Government Units to support climate change adaptation projects and programs at the local level through the “People’s Survival Fund,” which implements regional adaptation plans.
Interest in the approaches that Grenada and the Philippines shared during the first two Targeted Topics Forums led to an invitation from Albanian participants for representatives from these countries to participate in a Network-supported peer exchange during the launch of Albania’s NAP document.
In June 2016, the Network supported the Albanian government to hold a NAP Assembly that would launch the Albanian NAP document, bringing together key stakeholders in their NAP process to look at how they could move ahead with its implementation.
At the request of Albania’s NAP climate change focal point, the NAP Global Network supported peers from the Philippines and Albania to share experiences with their respective NAP processes during the Assembly.
Noel Gaerlan, the Climate Change Commissioner for the Philippines who attended on behalf of his country, said: “For us, the opportunity to be able to sit down with specific countries like Albania is beneficial because we can learn new things, including the current challenges they are facing, and we may have similarities that we can also address in our country.”
Gaerlan was particularly interested in the institutional arrangements that Albania was using; although Philippines has an institutional arrangement in place, Gaerlan was interested in finding out ways of streamlining these arrangements.
Ernest Shtepani, a participant from Albania’s Directory of Territorial Development, noted how he planned to address lessons learned from the Philippines in his future work on the NAP process, particularly in relation to ensuring resources were available to support implementation of Albania’s NAP at local levels: “The Philippines have the People’s Survival Fund, which has an adaptation focus to deal with the acute climate problems they face. In Albania, we are interested in exploring if our regional development fund could be activated as a mechanism to finance climate change adaptation projects.”
Likewise, Albania’s Ms. Dibra said that “it was very useful to listen and learn from Philippines’ and Grenada’s experiences on their institutional arrangements.” As Albania shifts its focus to financing the implementation of their NAP, she also noted Grenada’s approach to using the “NAP process as an opportunity to strengthen their institutional capacities and be prepared to access the Green Climate Fund.”
Martina Duncan, who represented Grenada during the peer exchange, also saw Albania’s NAP Assembly as a learning opportunity for her country. She noted that she would be interested in hosting a similar event when her country was finalizing their NAP document, and took action to make it happen.
Acting on inspiration from Ms. Duncan’s experience in Albania, Grenada held its own NAP Assembly in St. George’s in October 2016 with assistance from GIZ as part of the Grenadian-German Integrated Climate Change Adaptation Strategies Programme (funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment as part of its International Climate Initiative – IKI) and in collaboration with the NAP Global Network.
Like the Albanian NAP Assembly, this was a dynamic event that brought together a wide range of stakeholders working together towards climate resilience.
At the Grenadian NAP Assembly, these stakeholders worked together to prioritize actions in Grenada’s NAP, and to assign action a cost estimate to each action—an approach modelled after Albania’s NAP Assembly.
Grenada has become a leader on the NAP process in the Caribbean region and, in the days following Grenada’s NAP Assembly, the NAP Global Network worked with the Grenadian government and the UNDP-Japan Caribbean Climate Change Partnership to host a Caribbean Regional NAP Assembly, bringing together representatives from ten Caribbean governments to share the lessons and best practices on the NAP process across the region.
As more countries continue through the different states of their NAP processes, new lessons will continue to emerge. The NAP Global Network will bring Grenada, Albania, Philippines and the fellow countries in their TTF peer group back together in 2017 to share lessons on Monitoring & Evaluation in the NAP Process.
Through this on-going learning process, even countries with advanced NAP processes like the Philippines are dedicated to continuous learning to enhance efforts to protect their citizens livelihoods against climate threats.
Mercedita Sombilia, from the Philippines’ National Economic Development Authority, said: “We are now in the stage of really enhancing the strategies, our implementation, our tracking of our action plans. It’s the only way by which we could help enhance resilience against climate change, help a lot of people, and reduce the impact of what natural hazards bring to us when they come.”
As countries continue working to prepare for the impacts of climate change, the NAP Global Network will continue connecting adaptation planners from countries with high degree of vulnerability, and help them to act on the lessons and next steps that they identify in order to adapt to a changing climate.
Interested in getting involved in the NAP Global Network?
You can get involved in the Network in the following ways:
• The first step is joining as a participant (you can join online, for free). All Network participants receive updates on Network activities, publications and other knowledge products.
• Network participants working for developing country governments can access our Country Support Hub to request targeted technical assistance or expert advice for national adaptation planning and implementation.
• Network participants from developing countries can also get involved in peer exchanges by request to host a South-South peer exchange, or apply to participate in peer exchange opportunities as they arise.