The Adaptation Gap Report 2017: Towards Global Assessment
The Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, established the global goal on adaptation of enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change, with a view to contributing to sustainable development and ensuring an adequate adaptation response in the context of the temperature goal. The 2017 Adaptation Gap Report, which is the third global Adaptation Gap Report by UN Environment – prepared in collaboration with the Global Centre of Excellence on Climate Adaptation – focuses on one of the key questions arising in the wake of the global goal: What are the ways forward to assess progress towards the global goal on adaptation?
The report explores key opportunities and challenges associated with assessing progress on adaptation at the global level. The report synthesizes information relevant for the ongoing work under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to prepare for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. In contrast to previous Adaptation Gap Reports, the 2017 report focuses on issues relating to frameworks, comprising concepts, methodologies and data, rather than on assessing a particular dimension of the adaptation gap. Future Adaptation Gap Reports will return to assessments of specific adaptation gaps.
An international team of experts, assessing the latest literature and practical experience within the topic area, has prepared the report. The process has been overseen by a steering committee, and all chapters have undergone extensive external review.
The Paris Agreement’s global goal on adaptation provides a new starting point and impetus for assessing progress on adaptation at the global level, but additional information is required for assessing such progress.
The global goal on adaptation provides a collective vision for the direction of global adaptation action. The goal is broad and multifaceted, and progress towards it will be reviewed in the context of the global stocktake specified in Article 14 of the Paris Agreement. The global stocktake will take place every five years starting in 2023, and include reviewing the overall progress in achieving the global goal on adaptation. In addition, the Paris Agreement contains two other provisions on adaptation that are important in the context of this report: the transparency framework and adaptation communications. These four provisions and the interlinkages between them are illustrated in Figure ES.1, further highlighting the global and national dimensions of the provisions.
An assessment of collective progress towards the global goal on adaptation implies that national adaptation reporting and national data are synthesized or aggregated in a transparent and systematic manner. A key question relates to the extent to which reporting should and can be comparable and standardized across countries. The existing communication vehicles, including the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) processes and the National Communications, offer valuable information on past and planned adaptation actions and support needs.
However, additional information is needed to allow for a comprehensive and comparable assessment. Globally comparable metrics that track progress towards the global goal on adaptation based on country-level information, while avoiding undue burden on countries, provide additional opportunities yet pose a considerable challenge.
Assessing global adaptation progress requires frameworks and metrics that are applicable across countries and sectors, and over time. The complexity of adaptation to climate change as a development and policy issue presents major challenges for a comprehensive assessment of adaptation progress globally, because it requires the development and use of metrics that encompass enormous diversity.
At the same time, metrics that can be aggregated and compared at higher levels do not lend themselves well to context specificity and meaningful progress on adaptation, particularly at national and sub-national levels. Decisions regarding which metrics to assess globally should take such trade-offs into account.
Opportunities to complement national adaptation communications with third-party information are currently explored. Such information can be derived from bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), frameworks developed by independent research and non-government organizations, and dovetailing with other global frameworks, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction (Sendai Framework). Figure ES.2 outlines how various sources of information may feed into an assessment of the overall progress made in achieving the global goal on adaptation.