Tonga, Albania, and South Africa are among the countries to most recently submit their National Adaptation Plans to the United Nations

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) started this week, and the world is anticipating much-needed funding announcements and ambitious commitments to tackle the climate change crisis.

Along with the pressure being placed on high-emitting countries to lower their greenhouse gas emissions before it’s too late to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, there is also growing understanding of the need to scale up adaptation actions to adjust the way we grow food, access water, build homes, and manage ecosystems—especially in countries that are most vulnerable to sea level rise and extreme weather events.

National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) are a crucial tool used to prepare for the impacts of climate change. As the Paris Agreement calls on countries to “engage in adaptation planning processes and the implementation of actions, including the development or enhancement of relevant plans, policies and/or contributions,” the NAP process fulfills this commitment.

In the weeks leading up to COP 26, more and more developing countries finalized and communicated their first NAPs to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in time for the international negotiations to demonstrate their adaptation ambitions and support needs. A total of 30 NAPs had been published on the UNFCCC NAP Central by developing countries at the start of the international conference, including South Africa, Tonga, Nepal, South Sudan, and Albania. The UNFCCC reported that 129 developing countries had initiated their NAP process.

South Africa

South Africa’s National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS) provides a vision for resilience. This ten-year plan acts as the country’s NAP: presenting priority areas and the required resources to achieve their adaptation goals and addressing issues that are exacerbated by climate change, such as gender equality. This document builds on other legislation, policies, and national plans already put in place, including its Nationally Determined Contributions.

“This Strategy defines the country’s vulnerabilities, plans to reduce those vulnerabilities and leverage opportunities, outlines the required resources for such action, whilst demonstrating progress on climate change adaptation,” said South Africa’s Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy, in a statement announcing the finalization of the NCCAS.

A country’s National Adaptation Plan can carry a different title, such as South Africa’s National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS).

Albania

Albania’s National Adaptation Plan is an integrated part of the National Climate Change Strategy, which covers both mitigation and adaptation. The country developed the NAP document in close cooperation with different ministries and under the lead function of the Ministry of Environment, within the framework of the Inter-Ministerial Working Group on Climate Change from 2015 to 2016.

Mainstreaming climate change adaptation into relevant sector plans and policies is a key principle for the NAP process in Albania. The implementation framework of the NAP document is provided, among other things, through Priority Actions (or “umbrella projects”) that do not intend to cover all adaptation activities but concentrate on measures with strategic and leverage functions. Albania has already been implementing adaptation actions including, for example, building the resilience of Kune Vaini Lagoon through the Ecosystem-based Adaptation.

Tonga

The 2020 World Risk Report ranked Tonga as the second most vulnerable country in the world to disaster risk. Experiencing the worst of climate change, Tonga’s first Joint National Action Plan (JNAP 1)—the first JNAP in the Pacific region—was implemented from 2010 to 2015. Drawing on lessons learned, continued research, and institutional collaboration, Tonga updated its adaptation plan and communicated it to the UNFCCC in late October 2021.

Tonga’s Joint National Action Plan on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (JNAP 2) 2018–2028 serves as its NAP, setting out six policy objectives, 22 targets and an implementation strategy for the country to achieve its vision of a Resilient Tonga by 2035. JNAP 2 is aligned with the Tonga Climate Change Policy and covers climate change adaptation, mitigation, and disaster risk management. Making this information more accessible to the public, the Government of Tonga created an online Climate Change Portal with news, progress on climate change projects, and more.

The NAP Global Network’s Support

The NAP Global Network has been supporting developing countries in finalizing and communicating their NAPs to the UNFCCC with funding made available by the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

The NAP Global Network has also received support requests from a cohort of least-developed country (LDC) partners on activities related to the launch of their NAPs by early 2022, including Benin, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, and Sierra Leone. Many of these LDCs have prepared their first NAPs through technical assistance from partners, including the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UNEP–UNDP National Adaptation Plan Global Support Programme (NAP–GSP), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), among others, and several countries accessed funding from the Green Climate Fund Readiness Programme.

More support examples can be found in the NAP Global Network Country Support Hub.

The NAP Global Network is a multi-funder initiative, and Canada’s recent financial support announced at COP 26 builds on funding from Austria, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States to scale up support for NAP processes as a critical tool in the efforts to build resilience to climate change.

Albania has already been implementing adaptation actions including, for example, building the resilience of Kune Vaini Lagoon through the Ecosystem-based Adaptation.
Government participants drafted key messages on the Tonga Joint National Action Plan II. April 2021.

More About National Adaptation Plans

National adaptation planning is a strategic process that enables countries to identify and address their medium- and long-term priorities for adapting to climate change. Led by national governments, the NAP process involves analyzing current and future climate change and assessing vulnerability to its impacts. This provides a basis for identifying and prioritizing adaptation options, implementing these options, and tracking progress and results. Importantly, the NAP process puts in place the systems and capacities needed to make adaptation an integral part of a country’s development planning, decision making and budgeting while ensuring it is ongoing practice rather than a separate ad hoc exercise.