Vertical integration is essential for scaling up climate change adaptation action. The process of strategically linking adaptation efforts by key actors at local, sub-national, national, transboundary, and international levels in all phases of the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process was explored at NAP Expo 2023. This session was co-hosted by the NAP Global Network and the Euroclima program through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) on March 29, 2023. The event featured speakers from Kenya and Chile who shared their experiences with vertical integration in adaptation.
Anne Hammill, Associate Vice-President, Resilience Program, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), opened the event, emphasizing that good coordination across the different levels of governance is essential both for effective NAP processes and in making sure that financing is getting to the sub-national actors so they can implement their adaptation priorities.
Gonzalo Guaiquil, Climate Change Coordinator of the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, acknowledged that while adaptation has been viewed as the “little brother” of climate mitigation for many years, there is now growing momentum behind it. Guaiquil emphasized Chile’s commitment to a participatory approach in their NAP process, highlighting efforts to engage with local communities to discuss and determine the best course of action for adaptation.
The session was moderated by Mauricio Luna-Rodríguez, expert in adaptation governance, and NAP Global Network Focal Point for Latin America and the Caribbean. He introduced a recently published article that draws on experiences from Colombia, Eswatini, and The Gambia. The piece explores the three main challenges for vertical integration that can be turned into opportunities: multi-level coordination, financial flows to sub-national levels, and capacity-building for sub-national actors. Luna-Rodríguez also remarked that, according to the NAP Global Network’s platform NAP Trends, 100% of the NAPs submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change mention sub-national actors, but only 50% include specific mechanisms for vertical integration.
Kenya: Establishing a legal basis for the vertical integration of adaptation
Thomas Lerenten Lelekoitien, Deputy Director of Climate Change Adaptation with Kenya’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, explained that Kenya had established institutional arrangements responsible for the governance of adaptation at the national, county, woreda, and village levels.
Lelekoitien emphasized the importance of Kenya’s Climate Change Act for establishing institutional arrangements for coordinating adaptation action at all levels. “It is important to anchor these processes in law,” he mentioned.
Under the act, Lelekoitien noted that County-level Climate Change Units and Climate Change Planning Committees at the county and woreda levels must be established. “Adaptation is context specific, and the most vulnerable are the local communities. So it is very critical to reach out to local communities, where the vulnerabilities are really high, and the need for adaptation is very important,” he said.
To finance the adaptation priorities identified by sub-national governments, Lelekoitien also highlighted the progress made under the pilot Financing Locally-Led Climate Action Program.
Carolina Leitao, mayor of the Municipality of Peñalolén within Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile, presented a locally led adaptation initiative called Peñalolén Más Verde (Greener Peñalolén), which will benefit the 250,000 municipal citizens. Leitao explained that the project is grounded in five pillars:
- A focus on vulnerable communities: The climate crisis is also a social crisis, and we need to focus on support for marginalized communities.
- Municipalities should have a direct rapport with territories: The role of municipalities is important, and upward and downward flows are needed, with policies developed at the local level.
- The need to develop an action plan at all levels: There should be permanent engagement at all levels of government for real impact at the local levels.
- The creation of legal instruments will make the different government agencies vertically accountable within the Framework Law on Climate Change and will define clear responsibilities.
- Making territorial problems visible: Issues often overlap, and development plans don’t necessarily consider all the impacts that communities face, so making the challenges accessible to them is needed for planning.
“Municipalities can be the voice of impacted communities and can set out a vision for the future. Grains of sand add up,” said the mayor. For Leitao, vertical integration enables the development of locally focused, representative, and inclusive plans that respond to territorial realities while addressing social issues such as gender equality, racial discrimination, and poverty.
The locally led adaptation plan set out a series of priority actions, including nature-based solutions, making water plans accessible to local actors, territorial planning, emergency plans, disaster risk reduction projects, and the climate empowerment of local communities through educational actions.
“Local adaptation action does have an impact. Even if not at the global level, it has in the communities. This includes benefits for awareness of what needs to be done and to connect organizations that work on these issues,” Leitao concluded.
Following the presentations, the participants discussed the challenges and opportunities for vertical integration in NAP processes during a breakout group activity. They highlighted the persistence of structural barriers to integrating sub-national/local governments in adaptation processes and the need to determine formal mechanisms, roles, and responsibilities. It also was pointed out that strengthening institutional and technical capacities of sub-national and local governments should enable increases in financial flows from national to sub-national levels for adaptation. Finally, participants underlined the relevance of working with urban and rural areas, as well as the urban–rural interface.
Mauricio Luna-Rodríguez wrapped up the session by emphasizing the significance of establishing legal frameworks for vertical integration across all levels of governance. He also highlighted the importance of decentralization to empower sub-national actors and provide financing to enable them to articulate and implement their local priorities. Luna-Rodríguez stressed that these actions are essential to achieving effective vertical integration in NAP processes.