NAP Expo 2019 strengthens efforts to advance national adaptation plans

The NAP Expo 2019 convened from 8 to 12 April 2019, in Songdo, Republic of Korea. It brought together over 400 participants from the global NAP community under this year’s theme of raising adaptation ambition by advancing National Adaptation Plans (NAPs). Nearly 30 organizations and programmes served as contributors to the event by designing, mobilizing speakers and conducting sessions on specific themes.

Focused on raising adaptation ambition by advancing NAPs, it covered specific issues ranging around technical guidance and support for NAPs, risk analysis and assessments, access funding for the formulation and implementation of NAPs from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), adaptation solutions in key systems, monitoring and evaluation, gender and other guiding principles on adaptation.

It also addressed a number of important concepts and emerging approaches in adaptation including: scale (spatial and temporal); geospatial data for adaptation; digitalization of adaptation assessments; application of Big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning in assessments to improving the coverage, speed and quality of assessments; transformational adaptation; transboundary climate risk; optimization of adaptation action through pre-emptive, contingent and loss acceptance approaches; regional assessments; visioning and foresight methods.

For the first time, the NAP Expo practically engagement the youth in climate change adaptation through the launch of the Global Youth Adaptation Dialogue, to open a conversation among the youth that considers the future of adaptation through NAPs.

The NAP Expo is organized by the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) in collaboration with various bodies and organizations, to promote exchange of experiences and foster partnerships between a wide range of actors and stakeholders on how to advance NAPs. This was the sixth global event and the first of its size.

Exemplifying framing concepts for adaptation

A rich set of framing concepts for successful adaptation were tackled at the NAP Expo. All sessions were based on the NAP objectives of reducing vulnerability to climate change and facilitating the integration of adaptation into development planning, which are directly mapped to the Paris Agreement global goal on adaptation. This promoted a common taxonomy for adaptation and hence coherence in the diversity of approaches.

Data and assessments were addressed in the context of the global goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. Warnings for urgent action from the IPCC special report on “Global Warming of 1.5 °C” further strengthened the focus. Organizations working on climate data showcased available scientific information in the context of the 1.5 °C global warming scenario.

Figure 1 SPM1 in “IPCC, 2018: Summary for Policymakers. In: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, H.-O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J.B.R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M.I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, Maycock, M. Tignor, and T. Waterfield (eds.)]. World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 32 pp.”

By bringing together national adaptation practitioners and all the key actors, the NAP Expo created a space to discuss ways to further enhance coherence in technical guidance and planning at multiple scales and levels.

A suite of latest approaches on linkages and coherence between climate change adaptation, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, land degradation neutrality, and other frameworks and issues also provided evidence of good practice from government and non-state actors such as the youth and the private sector in developing and delivering innovative adaptation solutions to build the resilience of human and economic systems.

The NAP Expo featured a series of sessions to help countries strengthen the use of science in the formulation and implementation of their NAPs. This included applying systems approach to assessments and scientific modeling. It also included ways on how to utilize the latest global and regional assessments, namely the IPCC special report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C and the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment Report. Furthermore, under Open NAPs, representatives of countries discussed with the LEG and senior scientists present at the NAP Expo on the design of an edited book to be published on the results on NAPs from developing countries.

Figure 2: The Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) Assessment Report contains comprehensive assessment of the social, economic and environmental pillars of sustainable mountain development in the HKH region. It serves as the basis for evidence-based decision making in climate change action and sustainable development.

Elements of high quality and effective NAPs

A notable outcome that emerged from many sessions at the NAP Expo is the identification of the elements of high-quality and effective NAPs. Such elements include: well established national process; clearly articulated national adaptation goals and targets; adaptation priorities and programme profiles that would facilitate the implementation of adaptation actions through the established Financial Mechanism of the Convention and the Paris Agreement, and other relevant sources, to meet the global goal on adaptation and local goals; comprehensive financing strategy; and a good assessment of the baseline and monitoring of progress to support tracking of progress over time.

Examples of implementation of concrete adaptation solutions

To add onto the set of adaptation solutions showcased at the NAP Expos so far, an example by the Porous City Network on managing floods in Bangkok city using urban architectural design and green spaces was presented. This involved the creation of green spaces, parks, buildings, and linkages, integration of flood water storage in urban infrastructure design, urban farming, and city waterways and canal restoration.

Examples from previous NAP Expos are: seed bank to preserve duplicate samples of a worldwide variety of plant seeds; stress tolerant crops and livestock breeds; restoration of ecological systems through rainwater harvesting, sustainable agriculture, soil regeneration and agro-forestry; using information and communication technologies in climate change adaptation; using specific issues such as biodiversity and tourism as the pillars for national adaptation strategies.

Supporting effective adaptation planning and implementation

Long-term capacity development is one of the essential functions to enable systemic approach to effectively address climate risks. Having or creating this at the national requires: strong and lasting institutional arrangements; a long-term vision on the adaptation actions; established umbrella national programmes for priority setting, mobilizing and managing resources, facilitating implementation, monitoring and evaluation; linkages to GCF country programming strategy, the UNDAF, bilateral agency frameworks, and other related strategies; strategic timing and sequencing of adaptation actions, taking into account links to development, interdependencies, cost effectiveness, synergy and benefits; and gender and consideration of the other guiding principles of NAPs.

There are a good set of good practices in relation to creating capacity for the early stages of the process to formulate and implement NAPs. However, gaps exist regarding the implementation of the policies, projects and programmes identified in the NAPs.

A strong climate rationale forms the basis of adaptation programmes, and NAPs require reliable, relevant, usable and timely climate information. Climate data and information from all sources (national, regional and international) should be used to underpin the work on NAPs. Examples of free and open access climate change services available on the web showcased at the NAP Expo included the EU Copernicus Programme and the Climate Data Store, CORDEX and GERICS.

The NAP Expo further featured examples on how early warning systems have improved the effectiveness of managing health risks to climate change.

Available financial support

One of the main features of the NAP Expos is the sessions conducted by the GCF secretariat for the developing countries on how to access GCF readiness funding for the formulation of NAPs and broader GCF adaptation funding for the implementation of policies, projects and programmes identified in the NAPs. The location of this year’s NAP Expo provided greater advantage for larger engagement of the GCF with the countries, whereby most countries also managed to have bilateral meetings with the GCF secretariat to discuss specific issues relating to their funding proposals.

With regard to readiness funding for the formulation of NAPs, these sessions demonstrated the critical importance of a strong climate scientific basis to focus and design adaptation action. They also emphasized the importance of well-established national processes to help countries to: effectively catalyze action and funding from different sources; consolidate and apply solid climate science for adaptation; develop comprehensive financing strategies for adaptation; and extensively and meaningfully engage multiple stakeholders. All these are essential attributes of good quality proposals to access funding from the GCF.

Figure 3: There has been a significant increase in the number of approved funding proposals from the developing countries since January 2018. 

Regarding broader GCF adaptation funding for implementation of adaptation policies, projects and programmes, the sessions emphasized the value of strategic national institutions are essential in mobilizing and accessing climate finance. There is significant potential for private sector to play a bigger role in the formulation and implementation of NAPs. The GCF Project Preparation Facility can help countries in identifying and preparing project concepts and funding proposals.

Figure 4: The Green Climate Fund programming cycle

Bilateral funding has also been provided to selected countries through the NAP Global Network, as well as the Integrating Agriculture in National Adaptation Plans (NAP-Ag) programme jointly coordinated by UNDP and FAO.

The NAP Expo also featured lessons from the Climate Investment Funds programmatic approach, which emphasized the importance of well-established national processes, effective coordination mechanism, strong leadership and well-established relationship among government partners and multilateral development banks, and alignment with national priorities.

Available technical support

There is vibrant technical support system for the NAPs through UNFCCC constituted bodies and programmes, various organizations, support programmes, regional centres and networks.

The LEG has put in place a suite of modalities such as the NAP technical guidelines, training, NAP Expos, Open NAPs, NAP Central, Global NAP Calendar in collaboration with a wide range of partners to support developing countries to formulate and implement their NAPs. The support by the LEG is complemented by the work of other bodies and programmes under the UNFCCC process including the Adaptation Committee, the Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, the Technology Executive Committee and the Standing Committee on Finance.

United Nations and other organizations, bilateral and multilateral agencies, regional centres and networks are also supporting the developing through various means. Groups of these have also established joint support programmes and networks such as the NAP Global Support Programme and the NAP Global Network.

List of joint and individual support programmes that have taken part at the NAP Expos so far

  •  NAP Global Support Programme, jointly administered by UNDP and UNEP
  • Integrating Agriculture in National Adaptation Plans (NAP-Ag) administered by FAO and UNDP
  • NAP Global Network administered by IISD
  • Local Climate Adaptive Living Facility (LoCAL) by UNCDF
  • Global Framework for Climate Services by WMO
  • UN Climate Change Learning Partnership (UN CC:Learn) by UNITAR
  • Southern Voices on Adaptation by CARE International
  • Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS)
  • GWP
  • Conservation International

The NAP Technical Working Group provides a platform for continued collaboration between the LEG and the different actors to focus and coordinate technical support to achieve better and more consistent results. It also provides the venue for all providers of technical support to share progress towards supporting countries on NAPs, and the emerging gaps and needs, and this mechanism feeds back to the Convention.

Figure 5: The NAP Technical Working Group brings together experts and representatives of relevant organizations to promote coherence on technical guidance and support for NAPs.

Methodologies and tools for adaptation assessment

Many technical advances to further support the formulation and implementation of NAPs have been made. There are supplementary materials to the technical guidelines for the formulation and implementation of NAPs. Four of these were launched at the NAP Expo 2019. A full list of the supplements is available at

The LEG with the support of the NAP Technical Working Group continues to further develop and apply the Integrative Framework for NAPs and SDGs (NAP-SDG iFrame) to help integrate different approaches. The NAP-SDG iFrame takes an integrated approach towards country‐driven and country‐specific descriptions of systems that should be managed to achieve adaptation and contribute towards achieving SDG targets.

Effective adaptation follows a thorough and extensive risk analysis exercise, looking at past, current and future climate. The risk analysis may involve multiple components such as hazard mapping, assessments of the vulnerabilities and impacts, as well as the levels of risk tolerance in society. A common feature in risk management at any level is that decision makers face the challenge of selecting appropriate ways to manage risks associated with climate change impacts. The NAP Expo also featured a diversity of risk analysis approaches, including how to select an approach that would best suit a specific context and is accessible and trustworthy. An example of an open‐source economics of climate adaptation assessment model CLIMADA was showcased, which offers and approach on how hazard, exposure and vulnerability can be integrated to compute the necessary metrics to assess risk and to quantify socio‐economic impact.

Progress in NAPs by the developing countries

The LEG provided latest summary of progress made by the developing countries in the process to formulate and implement NAPs as part of the background documentation for the event. Many developing countries have launched the process and are at different stages (see figure 6 below). As at 12 April 2019, thirteen (13) countries had submitted their NAPs to the UNFCCC through NAP Central and many others indicated that they have completed the compilation of their NAPs and are undergoing national multi-stakeholder review and/or official endorsement. More details are available in the annual progress reports on NAPs and in the NAP progress publication by the LEG.

Figure 6: Progress made by developing countries in the process to formulate and implement NAPs by measures as of November 2018 (FCCC/SBI/2018/INF.13)

Five countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kiribati, Sudan and Togo) presented their NAPs for the recognition of their advancement. Several other countries also communicated they have draft NAPs undergoing final stakeholder consultations and approval at national levels, after which they will be submitted to NAP Central. These and other countries that have completed their NAPs are working on developing programmes to implement the policies, projects and programmes they have identified in their NAPs.

Figure 7: Representatives of Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kiribati, Sudan and Togo presenting on their NAPs. The NAP is the main output of the process to formulate and implement NAPs, and contains policies, projects and programmes for funding under the Green Climate Fund and other sources.

Emerging trends and way forward

One of the key observations from the NAP Expo was limited evidence or efforts to implement the policies, projects and programmes identified in the NAPs. Countries that have completed the formulation of their NAPs indicated they are still exploring how to take the priorities identified in their NAPs forward. This provided a signal for the need to increase a focus on supporting the implementation of NAPs, going beyond assessments and formulation.

The LEG also noted that the LDCs are being left behind despite targeted support being provided to them. Serious capacity constraints continue to exist and widen, with consequences in limitations to access support. To address this the LEG is scaling up the Open NAPs and mobilize the widest pool of partnerships and transform country support to more direct support to produce NAPs to go beyond creating awareness and building capacity.

The fruitful engagement of the private sector and the youth in the event created evidence on how to further engage different stakeholders to contribute to NAPs.