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Compendium on methods and tools to evaluate impacts of, and vulnerability and adaptation to, climate change

Guidelines for the Preparation of National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA)

NAPA is a programme for least developed countries (LDCs) to address their current and urgent adaptation needs. Countries are required to rank adaptation measures for funding by the LDC Fund and other sources based on such criteria as urgency and cost-effectiveness. The NAPA Guidelines are not in themselves a detailed framework for the assessment of vulnerability and adaptation. Instead, they provide some guidance for the process of compiling a document that specifies priority adaptation actions in the LDCs.

The Guidelines outline some “guiding elements” that inform this process and sketch out a process; however, they fall short of providing a structured framework. The guiding elements imply that the NAPA process should emphasize:

  1. A participatory approach involving stakeholders;
  2. A multidisciplinary approach;
  3. A complementary approach that builds on existing plans and programs;
  4. Sustainable development;
  5. Gender equity;
  6. A country driven approach;
  7. Sound environmental management;
  8. Cost-effectiveness;
  9. Simplicity;
  10. Flexibility based on country specific circumstances.

In the NAPA process, much of the work of assessing vulnerability and adaptation is intended to be drawn from existing sources. The Guidelines do stress the importance of conducting a participatory assessment of vulnerability to current climate variability and extreme events as a starting point for assessing increased risk due to climate change.

Appropriate Use Relatively rapid prioritization of adaptation options
Scope All regions and sectors
Key Output A document describing priorities for adaptation action, emphasizing especially how these priorities and associated plans for action fit in with a country’s development needs, other plans, and multilateral environmental agreements.
Key Input Results from existing and ongoing assessment of vulnerability and adaptation to both current climate variability and climate change.
Key Tools Cost-effectiveness analysis, cost benefit analysis, multicriteria analysis, stakeholder methods.
Ease of Use Relatively straightforward, given reliance on existing studies. Ranking of adaptations may be challenging.
Training Required Some instruction in the NAPA process is helpful
Training Available Regional workshops devoted to increasing understanding of the NAPA process are organized by UNITAR. Materials from these workshops are available at
Computer Requirements None
Documentation Annotated guidelines at pdf-icon Special website for LDCs at

Ongoing UNDP, UNEP and World Bank projects to develop NAPAs in the 48 LDC Parties to the UNFCCC. Submitted NAPAs are available at

Contacts for Framework, Documentation, Technical Assistance

Paul Desanker

UNFCCC secretariat; Tel: +49.228.815.1362; e-mail: . For technical guidance and advice on the preparation and on the implementation strategy of NAPAs, including the identification of possible sources of data and its subsequent application and interpretation, contact the LDC Expert Group (LEG) at and databse

Cost No cost for obtaining Guidelines

United Nations Institute for Training and Research. 2003. Developing Human and Institutional Capacity to Address Climate Change Issues in LDCs: Preparing for NAPAs. Available at