Adaptation to climate change is vital in order to build resilience to, and reduce the impacts of
climate change that are starting to happen now, and are predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to increase. Adaptation is one of the five key building blocks – together
with shared vision, mitigation, technology and financial resources – needed for a strengthened
future response to climate change.
The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are most at risk from climate change, yet least able to cope
with its effects. National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) were instituted as a means for
LDCs to identify priority activities that respond to their urgent needs regarding adaptation to
climate change, and are seen as the basis for future adaptation.
NAPA Preparation and Implementation
The process of preparing and implementing NAPAs involves many stakeholders, and results in many proposed
priority activities and projects. With this in mind, a NAPA Project
Database was created last year on the UNFCCC website in order to facilitate the development of project
proposals for implementation.
The steps involved in preparing NAPAs include assessing vulnerability to current climate variability and
extreme events, identifying key adaptation measures and selecting a prioritized shortlist of
After completion, the NAPA is submitted to the UNFCCC secretariat, and the LDC Party becomes eligible to
apply for funding to implement the NAPA under the Least Developed Countries Fund,
which is managed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
The LDC Party requests an implementing agency of the GEF (currently there are 10 of them), to assist it
in submitting a proposal for funding. The GEF agency works with the country to develop the concept into a
full project. The agency works very closely with the country during each successive step, and ultimately
supports the country in implementing the project.
Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) will soon publish a step-by-step guidebook describing the NAPA
implementation process that will be used in regional training workshops on NAPA implementation. The first of
these will take place in Tanzania from 19-23 October 2009.
It is encouraging that many countries are now moving into the implementation phase with their NAPAs, yet the
issue of how to successfully match programmes and funding remains a challenge. Current climate agreements do
not provide binding commitments for adaptation funding.
Funds available for adaptation through the GEF are relatively small, have been disbursed slowly, and will
need to be increased substantially to make any meaningful contribution to climate change adaptation in
Like other Least Developed Countries, Samoa is highly vulnerable to natural disasters.
The extreme events of tropical cyclones Ofa (1990) and Val (1991) caused damage with costs estimated at
approximately four times the gross domestic product (GDP) of Samoa. In the drought season, there are
increasing risks of forest fires, which is particularly damaging since forests play an important role
in watershed management and environmental protection. Samoa experienced four major forest fires during the
drought/dry periods of 1982-83, 1997-98, 2001-02 and 2002-03.
Climate change and rising sea levels are also serious concerns given that 70% of Samoa’s population and
infrastructure are located in low-lying coastal areas.
The main objectives of Samoa’s NAPA are to implement immediate and urgent project-based activities to
adapt to climate change; to protect people’s life and livelihoods; and to increase awareness of climate
change impacts and adaptation activities. Its NAPA projects address six main areas: food security; early
warning and disaster management; health; infrastructure; terrestrial ecosystems and water resources.
Samoa is an example of an LDC that managed to navigate the funding process in a relatively short space of
time and has now begun implementing projects on the ground.
Benin has scarce water resources and a high incidence of climate-related diseases such as malaria. Climate
change has a particularly strong impact on the country’s key sector, which is agriculture.
Among Benin’s urgent adaptation needs are: adapting agricultural production systems for food security;
managing water resources; protecting the coastal zone from rising sea levels; and promoting renewable energy
and the use of energy-saving stoves.
Benin’s NAPA projects address coastal and marine ecosystems, water resources, health and
capacity-building. Its experience with the NAPA process has been fairly positive, with Its NAPA on the verge
of implementation after twelve months.
Attendance at various regional and sub-regional workshops organized by the UNFCCC secretariat and the United
Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), as well as different sides events organized by the
GEF, played a role in familiarizing Benin’s representatives with the process of mobilizing the
Least Developed Countries Fund. However, it would welcome improved and direct access to GEF funds through a
simplified institutional framework.
Benin is in the process of drawing up a national climate change strategy that includes the outcomes of
Cambodia completed its NAPA in March 2007. Cambodia's NAPA consists of 39 proposed projects, of which 20
are high priority. They address key sectors such as agriculture, water resources, coastal zones and human
In recent years, the country has witnessed more frequent and severe floods and droughts, which have resulted
in a significant number of fatalities and considerable economic losses.
Floods accounted for 70% of rice production losses between 1998 and 2002, while drought accounted for 20% of
losses. Low-lying areas along the 435-km coastline, including settlements, beach resorts, seaports and
mangroves forests, are in danger of becoming submerged as a result of rising sea levels.
In addition, climate change may exacerbate vector-borne diseases such as malaria. With some 800 deaths per
year, Cambodia already has the highest fatality rate from malaria in Asia.
NAPA project examples include: the construction of community water reservoirs; improvement of community
irrigation systems; construction of dikes and flood protection structures; and education about malaria.
One planned adaptation project on integrating water resources planning into agricultural development is about
to enter the LDCF GEF Project pipeline. Another project proposal in the coastal zone is under preparation for
potential funding from the LDCF. A number of small-scale projects on Water Resource Management to Adapt to
Climate Change have been implemented under the UNDP/GEF Small Grant Programme.
The country’s experience so far has been that donors are more focused on mitigation, although some
signs are emerging that they are beginning to pay more attention to adaptation. Cambodia is nevertheless
concerned that its NAPA will remain a largely theoretical exercise unless donors commit to meaningful funding
for adaptation activities in the country.
Hopes for Copenhagen
The Least Developed Countries will be hoping for significant progress on adaptation at the Climate Change
Conference in Copenhagen in December. This includes more concrete funding commitments by Annex-1
parties for adaptation activities, especially for NAPA implementation, as well as improved access to
The LDCs also hope that the lessons they have learned in preparing and implementing adaptation through the
NAPA will inform plans for adaptation in future, and that any new adaptation planning processes will build on
the strong basis of the NAPAs. In order to curtail the amount of adaptation needed in the future, they are
also hoping that industrialized countries will take the lead in making a stronger and time-bound commitment
to deep emission cuts.
For more information on NAPAs and LDCs, click here.