NAP Expo 2023: What we heard on scaling up the implementation of National Adaptation Plans

Three people at a table discussing the implementation of their national adaptation plan process.
Countries sharing experience on implementing their adaptation plans. Photo: Cesar Henrique Arrais, IISD (2023).

Global momentum for climate adaptation planning has been growing. With 170 countries including adaptation in their climate policies and planning processes, one of the burning questions arising is, “how can countries scale up the implementation of adaptation to achieve climate-resilient development?” At the NAP Expo 2023 in March, hosted by Chile, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Global Network co-convened a discussion with the representatives from Bhutan, Nepal, Haiti, and other countries to explore this topic. Here are some of the insights that were provided.

Ensuring whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches in the NAP process helps increase awareness, engagement, ownership, and action.

All country representatives underlined the importance of stakeholder engagement. As Gerty Pierre from Haiti pointed out, “There’s no good implementation without stakeholder ownership.” In Nepal, sector ministries are preparing projects for implementing the country’s NAP, while other countries are focusing on mainstreaming adaptation in sector ministries’ planning and budgeting.  

Rinchen Penjor from the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Bhutan, emphasized the importance of engaging universities—not only for research in the design phase of the NAP but also during the implementation of the NAP. In Liberia, in partnership with universities, the first-ever undergraduate and graduate degree programs on climate and biodiversity were established, strengthening implementation capacity. To ensure a whole-of-society approach, Saint Lucia developed a private sector engagement strategy and involved youth in their NAP design.

Representatives from Nepal and Haiti highlighted the significance of coordination during the NAP implementation; in Nepal, the high-level council on climate change, consisting of ministers and heads of provinces, meets regularly with the inter-ministerial climate change committee. In Haiti, a climate change committee coordinates efforts between all ministries and other stakeholders. These coordination efforts can help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of adaptation interventions.

Aligning adaptation priorities with national and local development priorities is critical for implementation.

Buddi Sagar Poudel from the Ministry of Forests and Environment in Nepal highlighted the importance of involving local communities in adaptation efforts. He explained how it is crucial to have policies that ensure that funding and resources are directed to the local level, which will allow projects to be implemented more quickly. Poudel mentioned that Nepal’s NAP and the 2019 National Climate Change Policy set a target to allocate 80% of resources to support programs at the local level.  

Haiti has been developing policies for the implementation of its NAP, including policy notes for implementation as well as communication and advocacy. Bhutan is looking at nature-based solutions approaches to facilitate implementation. Others noted that alignment with existing processes and policies—including national development priorities and NDCs—is also important.  

Adequate financing remains one of the key factors in implementing NAPs and scaling adaptation.  

Country representatives explained that finance and technology are the most prominent barriers in scaling up the implementation of climate adaptation. Nepal has adopted climate budgeting and priority projects are already being implemented with domestic sources, and Haiti is also working on creating a budget line in its public finance management system for adaptation priorities.

Just as domestic resources are not enough to fill the adaptation finance gap, the same is true for international funding sources. Therefore, countries are working to involve the private sector in their efforts to address climate change. Haiti is sharing information about the importance of taking action to adapt to climate change, while Bhutan is creating guidelines for green finance that will encourage private investments in adaptation and resilience.

As countries continue to establish comprehensive approaches to adaptation through their NAP process, and as more countries gain experience with the implementation of their NAPs, there is a growing interest to learn from other countries on how to scale up action toward achieving climate-resilient development. In addition to the panel speakers from Bhutan, Haiti, and Nepal, representatives from Chile, Mongolia, Colombia, Panama, Liberia, Saint Lucia, South Sudan, and many others shared their experience during this session.

This article was published jointly by the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, and the NAP Global Network. To learn more about their NAP-relevant work, please visit the websites: United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme, and NAP Global Network