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Adaptation finance needs are 10–18 times as great as current international public adaptation finance flows – at least 50 per cent higher than previously estimated, according to the latest UN Adaptation Gap Report published on Thursday, November 2, 2023.

Tom Mitchell, executive director of IIED, said: “Reading this report brings an unpleasant sense of deja vu. The problems the UN identified a year ago and the year before, and the year before that, remain today and are getting worse.

“The wealthy polluters who caused the climate crisis, whether governments or businesses, simply are not taking seriously their responsibility to help the most vulnerable people adapt to its brutal effects.

“After a disastrous year of flooded cities in the US and Libya, and wildfires across Europe, it should be plain that the crisis will come for all of us eventually unless we act decisively now.

“At COP28 this month, rich countries, philanthropies and businesses must massively increase funding now for climate adaptation in vulnerable areas. We also need to get that money directly to the people hardest hit who know best how to address their own needs, while ditching the current bureaucratic and short-sighted system.”

Harjeet Singh, Head of global political strategy, Climate Action Network International, said: “The widening gap in adaptation finance is a stark indicator of years of neglect, leaving countless vulnerable people exposed to escalating climate calamities. Instead of providing finance to developing countries, affluent nations have exacerbated the climate crisis with their persistent investments in fossil fuels.

“Developing countries stand ready, awaiting the necessary funds to safeguard their people against imminent climate disasters. Without timely adaptation, we are setting the stage for unimaginable loss of lives and livelihoods caused by relentless floods, raging wildfires, and surging seas.”

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF global climate and energy lead, and President of COP20: “Without urgent action to build the resilience of communities and ecosystems to the climate emergency and resulting weather-related disasters, the world will face an unprecedented and protracted humanitarian and ecological crisis. It is unacceptable to see progress on adaptation slowing and finance declining, while climate impacts escalate. This year the world has faced everything from record-breaking heatwaves and raging wildfires to catastrophic storms and floods that have devastated lives, economies, and ecosystems. No part of the world is untouched by the impacts of climate change, and the most vulnerable are most in peril.

“At COP28 next month, countries have the opportunity to help reverse this trend and supercharge adaptation efforts, by agreeing a comprehensive framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation, with clear targets and an implementation roadmap. Finance will also be crucial for unlocking action – we need to see at least a doubling in current adaptation finance by 2025 to meet the needs of vulnerable countries. But above all, leaders need to act to address the causes of the climate crisis. If we phase-out fossil fuels, decarbonize our economies, and restore nature, the need for ever-increasing action and finance for adaptation will diminish.”

Obed Koringo, Climate Policy Advisor, CARE: “It is deeply concerning that despite ever-increasing adaptation needs in at-risk developing countries, funding from developed countries and multilateral agencies continues to be skewed in favour of mitigation. As the report shows, additional finance is urgently needed to slow down the accelerating climate impacts, which would otherwise further widen the adaptation gap in developing countries. We also call on those implementing adaptation actions to prioritise locally led solutions that promote the crucial involvement and leadership of women and girls.”

John Nordbo, Climate Finance Specialist, CARE: “As countries plan to meet during COP28 in the United Arab Emirates later this month, the stakes are extremely high, especially on the delivery of past commitments and pledges on adaptation finance. Wealthy countries need to produce a clear roadmap detailing how they will deliver on their COP26 undertaking to at least double adaptation finance by 2025, as a step towards achieving the long-promised balance between mitigation and adaptation finance.”

Jessica Bwali, Global Campaigns Associate, Tearfund: ‘Without sufficient financial support, Zambian farmers – like hundreds of thousands of farming communities – are being abandoned to face rapidly intensifying climate disasters and crop failures. Adapting requires resources for research to identify locally resilient edible crop varieties; education to inform farming communities; and equipment like solar-powered water pumps and irrigation systems to manage new patterns of drought and deluge. These expenses are often unaffordable for the poorest and most vulnerable farmers. It is simply not fair that those who have done the least to contribute to carbon emissions are paying the highest price for the impact the climate crisis is having on our shared earth.

“The world’s richest nations, including the UK, have failed to deliver on their climate finance commitments in time to prevent the adaptation gap from widening further. We watch with dismay and disappointment as many world leaders shy away from their collective responsibilities, in some cases practicing clever accounting to avoid pledging new funds. Climate finance is dropping off the agenda when it should be near the top of the list of budget priorities. This year’s climate summit in Dubai is a month away. 2023 must be the year that leaders of wealthy and high-emitting countries deliver on ensuring support reaches the most vulnerable communities in a fair, reliable, and transparent way.”

Mattias Söderberg, Global Climate Lead, DanChurchAid: “A new worrying update about the need for an increased focus on adaptation. Our future is at risk and investments in adaptation are crucial. This report makes it clear that we need to shift our approach to adaptation finance. The gap is huge, and funding must be drastically scaled up. We must remember that behind all the numbers there are people, families, and communities. People who will face climate-related loss and damage, if investments in adaptation are not made. This is a matter of climate justice. Those responsible for global warming must mobilize funding for adaptation now.”

Rachel Simon, International Climate Finance Policy Coordinator, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe: “New figures from this report offer a dire warning on the worsening adaptation finance gap, and we urgently need rich countries to respond. In their COP28 position, EU Environment Ministers committed to be at the forefront of increasing adaptation finance. However, they did not lay out a clear plan on how to put this into action and scale up adaptation finance by the 2025 deadline.

“We need the EU to act as a leader amongst developed countries and drive forward increases and improvements in public finance for adaptation which can deliver adequately for the countries and communities who need it. This includes delivering on the promise to balance mitigation and adaptation finance.”

Joseph Sikulu, Pacific Managing Director, “Climate disasters are worsening and while we push for an end to fossil fuels, our communities still need to be able to survive. It is an absolute injustice if those least responsible for this crisis need to shoulder the burden of adaptation costs. It is not enough for developed countries to simply shift finance pledges around, there needs to be additional finance for adaptation and the Pacific will be watching. Many of our island nations have taken the time and resources to consult with communities and put National Adaptation Plans in place, but the widening gap between the finance that was committed at COP26, and reality is extremely disheartening.”

Sanjay Vashist, Director Climate Action Network South Asia: “Developing nations should be concerned, despite the urgent need to accelerate and scale up international public adaptation finance to developing countries, these flows have actually declined, since 2020 the adaptation finance gap is likely 10–18 times as great as current international adaptation finance flows – at least 50 per cent higher than previous range estimate. Almost all South Asia nations are caught in a loop of climate induced disasters and consequent economic losses.

“Many have ready adaptation plans, however as the latest adaptation gap report clearly indicates they have neither received adequate assistance or compensation from the rich and historical polluting countries. COP28 is where the developed and rich countries must deliver on finance, technology and know-how to help developing nations adapt to impacts of climate change.”

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