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The 2016 Adaptation Finance Gap Report explores the costs of meeting adaptation needs and assesses the funding that is available for meeting those needs. It suggests that although international public funding for adaptation has increased in recent years, the previous assessments of the costs of adaptation have involved significant underestimates. This leaves us with a gap – the adaptation finance gap – which we need to fill if we are to meet the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.
The Report considers the options for bridging the finance gap. One of the strong messages emerging from the report is that mitigation is the best first option. Because adaptation is a function of a missed mark for mitigation, it is important that there remains an emphasis on emission reduction. Nevertheless, even if emissions can be cut effectively, a very large adaptation burden will remain and the communities least equipped to bear this burden will face the greatest impacts.
It is for this reason that sustainable development and climate solutions are closely linked. Without addressing climate change impacts, sustainable development is undermined, and investments are lost. We can ill afford such losses. The report considers the way in which private finance can help to bridge the adaptation gap. It details four ways governments and business can work together to encourage better integration of adaptation practices, including providing businesses with access to the information and tools they need to integrate adaptation into investment decisions.
Greater emphasis must be put on the question of effectiveness. Increasing the volume of finance only increases resilience if it is spent wisely. Adaptation is not only about responding to specific impacts, but about creating resilience to a range of uncertainties. Investing in the underlying capacity of most vulnerable people and ecosystems therefore, is at the heart of truly sustainable adaptation.