Addressing the Climate Change Adaptation Gaps From the New IPCC Synthesis Report

Highlighting the critical role of the National Adaptation Plan process

The statement below is provided by Anne Hammill, Associate Vice-President, Resilience, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), host to the Secretariat for the NAP Global Network.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a new Synthesis Report earlier this week, the final piece of their 8-year comprehensive review of the latest knowledge on climate change. It boils down thousands of pages of findings published in six reports and comes back to the central message that time is running out and we are in an “all-hands-on-deck” situation.

Global temperature has already increased by 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels and is expected to exceed 1.5°C during the 21st century, pushing the world past critical thresholds. Climate change risks and impacts will intensify as our planet gets warmer. Alongside the urgent need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, the IPCC calls on countries to accelerate their efforts to adapt to climate change.

While there has been meaningful progress in adaptation around the world, it is not keeping pace with climate change impacts. In fact, the gap between what is happening on the ground and what is needed is only growing—an alarming trend, given that more than 3 billion people are already living in areas highly vulnerable to climate change. The IPCC concluded that most adaptation responses to date have been fragmented, incremental, and unequally distributed across regions. They have flagged important barriers to adaptation action, such as: 

  • Limited resources 
  • A lack of private sector and citizen engagement 
  • Insufficient mobilization of finance (including for research) 
  • Low climate literacy 
  • A lack of political commitment 
  • Limited research and/or slow and low uptake of adaptation science 
  • A muted sense of urgency 

Overcoming these barriers and coordinating the range and scale of efforts needed to secure a livable future requires planning and resources. While more and more jurisdictions are developing adaptation plans, they need to be implementable—meaning they must articulate clear priorities, targets, responsibilities, and associated costs and sources of funding. And yes—as the IPCC clearly states—finance for adaptation is insufficient and must increase significantly.

By committing to a National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process, countries can address these gaps, mobilize financial and other resources, and accelerate the implementation of equitable solutions with lasting impacts—especially for people living in poverty and experiencing discrimination. 

We must do what we can to close these adaptation gaps that leave our most vulnerable at risk. 

NAP Expo 2023

The NAP Global Network Secretariat team will attend NAP Expo 2023, a global conference dedicated to NAP processes, in Santiago, Chile, from March 27 to 30, 2023. The team attending will share lessons learned on NAP processes, showcase outcomes from our support in over 60 countries, and engage with governments and actors in the adaptation community.

Related Resources
About the National Adaptation Plan process
  • The NAP process 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.
  • The NAP process also aims to facilitate the integration of climate change adaptation into relevant new and existing policies, programs, and development planning.
  • To date, 139 developing countries have launched a NAP process, and 42 have submitted a NAP document to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
About the NAP Global Network

TheNAP Global Networkwas created in 2014 to support developing countries in advancing their NAP processes and help accelerate adaptation efforts around the world. To achieve this, the Network facilitates South–South peer learning and exchange, supports national-level action on NAP formulation and implementation, and generates, synthesizes, and shares knowledge. The Network’s members include individual participants from more than 155 countries involved in developing and implementing National Adaptation Plans. Financial support for the Network has been provided by Austria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The Secretariat is hosted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). For more information, visit