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Assessing adaptation

Saturday, November 11, 2017

PROGRESS needs to be made towards assessing adaptation at the global level to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement, according to a new UN assessment.

The Paris Agreement 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 — the third global Adaptation Gap Report by UN Environment and prepared with the support of the Global Centre of Excellence on Climate Adaptation — focuses on one of the key questions arising in the light of the establishment 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 and synthesises 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.

Key recommendations derived from the group of international experts who wrote the report suggest that a framework for assessing global adaptation progress would benefit from being sufficiently:

a) broad to absorb the wide range of existing information sources and formats;

b) rigorous to capture essential metrics of change; and

c) flexible to accommodate innovations in assessment approaches.

Other important messages focus on questions relevant to assessing information provided by countries and third parties in the context of reporting on progress towards the global goal on adaptation.

Much can be learned from existing national adaptation monitoring and evaluation systems, but they are generally not comparable at the global level.

Nevertheless, some globally comparable metrics based on country-level information are needed to track progress towards the global goal on adaptation.

Self-reporting on national targets has the greatest potential to respect the diversity of national contexts while facilitating global assessment of progress.

To address adequacy and effectiveness, i.e. whether the adaptation goals are sufficiently ambitious and are being met by the efforts to tackle climate vulnerability, descriptive indicators are often not sufficient.

Instead, it is necessary to provide metrics that address local context and national risk profiles, but these cannot be standardised and therefore add a qualitative flavour to global assessment.

There is great opportunity for synergies with the UN Sustainable Development Goals as well as the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, because many of the indicators collected in the context of these global frameworks are closely related to adaptation.

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.

If efforts are combined and sufficient, it is possible not only to improve our ability to assess progress on adaptation, but to enhance such progress, and to ensure an adequate adaptation response in the context of the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

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