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Mind the adaptation gap

Funding for the continent's economies to adapt to extreme weather falls far short of the rising demand

Government spending on climate change adaptation projects across Africa is currently ten times higher than support for adaptation, according to a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

The UNEP report estimates that between US$215 billion to $387bn a year is needed for climate adaptation in poor and vulnerable countries this decade. Funding fell by 15% – to just $21bn – in 2021, the report said.

It reckons that developing countries in Africa will need to spend about $46bn a year on climate adaption between 2021 and 2030, equivalent to 2.4% of GDP. Current government spending stands at around 0.9% of GDP.

The UNEP research found that the highest financial flows of climate adaption cash, in percentage terms, are to Africa. But they are still far below the estimated adaptation finance needs.

The publication of the UN study has been timed to put pressure on industrialised countries to contribute substantially to the proposed loss and damage fund at the COP28 Climate summit in Abu Dhabi which starts on 30 November (AC Vol 64 No 22, Fight over control of loss and damage fund dominates pre-summit talks).

But negotiations run by a 28-member transitional committee are continuing on how the fund will be managed and which organisations will select and design the projects to be financed.

UN Secretary General António Guterres is leading the charge on the Loss and Damage Fund with signs that the COP28 hosts, United Arab Emirates, are planning to contribute over $20bn to launch the fund this month.

'All parties must operationalise the Loss and Damage Fund at COP28 this year. And we need new and early pledges to get the fund started on a strong footing,' said Guterres.

He also called on multilateral development banks to allocate at least 50% of climate finance to adaptation and change their business models to mobilise more private finance.

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