Key elements to be considered under Item 12 of the SBI provisional agenda on National Adaptation Plans

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Date produced: 04/06/2021

In relation to agenda item 12 of the SBI DPA on National Adaptation Plans, and based on the various reports referenced in the SBI chair’s scenario note (para.53), what are likely to be some of the common themes and elements relating to gaps and needs in formulating and implementing NAPs that will be considered at this session (SB52)?

Summary of advice:

The query relates to item 12 of the Subsidiary Body for implementation provisional agenda, on National Adaptation Plans. The SBI chair’s scenario note on this item reads as follows: 

“COP 25 requested the SBI at the 53rd session to discuss information on the reports of the Adaptation Committee and the LEG, including the gaps, needs and the implementation of the national adaptation plan and to take further action as appropriate.

To advance work on this matter, I invite Parties to constructively engage in the informal consultations and discuss relevant information from the 2020 Adaptation Committee report, reports on the 37th , 38th and 39th meetings of the LEG, the 2020 report on progress in the process to formulate and implement NAPs, and the reports of the Green Climate Fund and the GEF to the COP, including on gaps and needs and the implementation of NAPs, and identify possible further actions related to the process to formulate and implement NAPs.”[1]

This note provides bullet points summarising the key themes and considerations based on a review and analysis of the reports referred to in the SBI Chair’s note on NAPs.[2] An overview is provided below:

  • Slow implementation of the NAP process: Since its adoption in Cancun in 2010, only 14% of all developing countries have submitted NAPs to NAP Central,[3] Nevertheless the majority of States have taken some steps to begin preparing their NAPs.
  • Capacity building, training and support: Emphasis should be placed on capacity building and guidance for stakeholders in all developing countries, particularly LDCs, to put together strong funding proposals for NAPs at both the national and sub-national level; and to use climate science, data and technology to develop and implement NAPs.
    • One action point that the SBI could consider is to identify countries that are a particular priority for support and training, such as the 15 LDCs that have not yet even submitted a NAP proposal to the GCF, or the 6 countries that have yet to start even drafting their NAP.[4]
  • Accessing financial support:The main cause of the delays is that most developing countries have not so far received financial support for the formulation of their NAPs:
    • As at June 2021, only 34.1m USD of funds has actually been disbursed by the GCF for the formulation of NAPs, of USD 124.4m that was approved. Furthermore, almost no NAP projects (only six) have so far received approval for GCF funding.
    • Past efforts of the COP to mandate the GCF approval process to be expedited have put pressure on the GCF to accelerate its processes (which take up to 38 months for approval). 61 out of 85 countries that have submitted a proposal to the GCF Readiness and Preparatory Support Programme had been approved by November 2020,[5] while most pending proposals were with the States for revisions as at March 2021.
    • However, in order to see tangible progress, it will be necessary for the GCF to also focus actually disbursing the GCF Funds that have been approved – both for the NAP preparation and for project implementation.
    • Another important consideration is for LDCs in particular to have the necessary information/knowledge to be able to formulate strong and compliant funding proposals.
  • Coordination on NAPs and evaluation /sharing information about NAPs: Those States that have concluded NAPs (particularly LDCs) should also be encouraged to publish them on NAP Central.  Other initiatives such as Open NAP initiatives and NAP country dialogues are also important.
    • Countries could further consider developing a system for monitoring, evaluating and sharing of information on NAPs across the globe (including its integration with local government planning and budgeting systems under the UNCFD Local Climate Adaptive Living Facility) to assess the relative success of NAPs, their implementation and the subsequent sharing of best-practice / practices to be avoided.[6]
    • Since relatively few NAPs have been published, and fewer yet projects have been implemented, the success of the NAP system remains to be demonstrated.
  • Equal gender participation – focus both on participation and consideration in the formulation and implementation of NAPs at the national and sub-national level. Of the NAPs that have been published, the majority (18 out of 20) explicitly mention gender or women.[7]
  • Private sector engagement – Utilising the expertise and skills of the private sector to formulate and implement NAPs.


  • Background: The national adaptation plan (NAP) process was established under the Cancun Adaptation Framework (CAF) at COP 16 in 2010. It enables Parties to formulate and implement national adaptation plans (NAPs) as a means of identifying medium- and long-term adaptation needs and developing and implementing strategies and programmes to address those needs.
  • Given the significance of NAPs for least developed countries (LDCs), the LDC Expert Group (LEG) has taken a leading role in tracking the progress of countries in formulating and implementing NAPs.
  • A large number of actors work as delivery partners, implementing agencies or otherwise provide support through training, funding or supporting the development of NAPs.  Within the UN system, these include: the UNFCC, IFAD, UNDP, UNEP and FAO.  Outside the UN system, these include the Avina Foundation, IBRD, World Bank, West African Development Bank, WWF, SPREP, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, the IUCN, as well as development aid from States such as the US, the EU, France, Germany or the Commonwealth.[8]  In this respect, there is a need to establish and improve regional and international institutions, with clearly defined roles, to produce technical guidance for, monitor and evaluate NAPs.
  • As at 2017, Papua New Guinea was receiving support from UNDP to develop its NAP. Its NDC includes a section on adaptation commitments that are aligned with the NAP process.[9] It has not yet published a NAP on NAP Central.
  • Progress in developing NAPs has been slow:
    • As at 31 October 2019, sixteen countries (including 4 LDCs) had prepared and shared their first NAPs on NAP Central.[10]  As at June 2021, the number of NAPs on NAP Central stands at 22 (5 LDCs). This represents an increase of six States in 19 months, but it remains the fact that only 14% of all developing countries have submitted NAPs to NAP Central.[11] Additionally, a few countries have completed the preparation of their NAPs, but not yet made them available on NAP Central.[12] A number of NAPs are already being updated or will need to be updated over time.[13]
    • Whereas 120/153 developing countries had undertaken activities relating to the process of formulating and implementing NAPs by October 2019, 125/154 developing countries (an increase of 3%) had done so in by November 2020.[14]  
    • The slow rate of development of NAPs may be partially attributable to delays occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.[15]  But a more fundamental and systemic problem is the lack of funding for developing countries to formulate and implement NAPs. This concern has consistently been noted in the previous assessments on progress in the process to formulate and implement NAPs.[16]  
    • In respect of LDCs, 15 of 47 LDCs have not yet submitted proposals to the GCF for funding to prepare the NAPs.[17]
  • COP requests for the GCF to expedite its approval processes for NAP proposals may be bearing fruit
    • The COP has already requested the Board of the GCF to streamline and simplify its approval process, inter alia, for the preparation of NAPs[18] and to expedite the approval process for NAP preparation and project proposals.[19] The GCF Board has, accordingly, determined to expedite its process.[20] Furthermore, the GCF has determined that it will “enhance efforts to assist countries to implement the policies, projects and programmes identified in their national adaption plans (NAPs) and collaborate with the LEG, as appropriate.”[21]
    • According to the LEG Update Report: 61 out of 85 countries that have submitted a proposal to the GCF Readiness and Preparatory Support Programme had been approved by November 2020.[22]  According to the GCF, the 30 or so NAP preparation proposals that were pending as at October 2020, have been sent back to the NDAs/delivery partners with technical review comments to facilitate revision and submission.[23]
    • The time taken to approve proposals ranges between 2 and 38 months (with the proposals of 14 countries taking between 23 and 38 months to approve).[24] But it is not clear whether the average time has reduced over time.
  • The pinch point is the lack of funding being granted and disbursed for the development of NAPs and implementation of adaptation projects.
    • Funding is available through a number of channels, including the GCF, the LDCF, the SCCF etc.[25] In particular, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Green Environment Fund (GEF) have both been mandated by the COP to provide support for the formulation and implementation of NAPs. In practice, however, the GCF is the main source of funding.
    • As at June 2021, only 34.1m USD of funds has actually been disbursed by the GCF for the formulation of NAPs, of USD 124.4m that has been approved.[26] Indeed, most developing countries have yet to receive any funds to advance their work.[27]
    • Only six countries have received funding approval for one or more priority projects identified in their NAP by November 2020.[28] Of the 18 proposals pending before the GCF as at November 2020, one was submitted in 2016 (Kenya/IUCN) and a number in 2018.[29]  It appears that there are therefore significant delays in the GCF’s decision-making on projects. Furthermore, the low rate of funding of projects may undermine the incentives for developing States to prioritise the preparation of the NAPs in the first place.
    • Funding may also be received or available for adaptation projects outside the NAP framework.[30] It may be worth considering how other sources of funding could be leveraged, including those set out in the LEG’s SBI Progress Report.  For example, the Commonwealth Secretariat Climate Finance Hub, which has provided six countries with USD 37.8m in climate finance by October 2020, with USD 650 m in the pipeline, which is significantly more than the funding approved and disbursed to date for NAPs through the GCF.
    • The GEF 2020 Report notes that it is focused on supporting LDCs in capacity-building by fostering the development of sustained endogenous technical services for: project development, policy mainstreaming, and creating an enabling environment; scaling up the delivery of climate finance; and developing country-driven approaches to climate change adaptation.[31]
  • Capacity building for LDCs/Developing countries:[32]
    • LEG priority activities to address gaps/needs: [33]
      • (i) Enhancing provisions of support through the Open NAP initiatives and NAP country dialogues to the LDCs for formulating their NAPs as soon as possible;
      • (ii) Conducting project development workshops to assist the LDCs in implementing priorities associated with their NAPs; and
      • (iii) Expanding the range of technical tools, including related to regional approaches, available to support countries in addressing their adaptation needs.
    • Accessing financial and other support – Main theme identified is the need for adequate financing from the GCF as well as knowledge amongst stakeholders (at national and sub-national level) to put in strong and compliant funding proposals.  Also identified the need to ensure that one-off funding also accounts for long-term processes / projects future funding.
    • Institutional arrangements and coordination – Common theme is need to establish / improve regional and international institutions, with clearly defined roles, to produce technical guidance for, monitor and evaluate NAPs. Improvement of national capability for engaging with institutions. Eg, consider whether bodies such as the NAP Technical Working Group, the LEG and other UNFCCC bodies (such as the AC), could offer more effective support to developing countries in formulating and implementing their NAPs.
    • Climate scenarios, science and translation to local context – Capacity building for stakeholders (at national and sub-national level) to access, understand, interpret and apply climate data / science to their local contexts and long-term decision making / goals.
    • Risk and vulnerability assessment and risk management – Capacity building / development of common methodologies and guidelines for conducting risk and vulnerability assessments at a national and sub-national level, including ways to build evidence and data.  Also access to technical assistance where national / sub-national capability is lacking as well as translating capacity into long term monitoring and quality assessment, including through peer assessment and collaboration.
    • Access to and use of technology – Ensuring sufficient capability at national / sub-national level to understand and use technology.  Ensuring fair access to and funding for technologies.  Sharing of examples of other countries’ using technology and successful / unsuccessful technological deployment.  Notification and application of new technologies to NAPs, including big data, AI and machine learning to climate services, agriculture, water systems, health systems, disaster management, banking and other sectors.
    • Monitoring, evaluation and learning – Integration and monitoring of NAPs on an international level through a structured and systematised centralised process with accompanying guidance and sharing of data (eg through Open NAP initiatives and NAP country dialogues).
    • Linkage with the development agenda – Capacity building and education related to the wider sustainable development agenda, specifically SDGs, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, and the New Urban Agenda.
    • Active learning from practice – Developing processes for capturing data on real-life NAPs and policies, evaluating that information, and sharing the same, with an increased emphasis on South-South data sharing.
    • Guiding principles – Assessment of most vulnerable communities as well as ensuring proper collaboration and efficient deployment of resources between international organisations, regional

[1] See:, paras 52 to 54.

[2] Namely: FCCC/CP/2020/1/Add.1; FCCC/SBI/2020/INF.13; FCCC/CP/2020/5; FCCC/SBI/2020/6;

FCCC/SBI/2020/14; FCCC/SBI/2021/6; FCCC/CP/2020/1;FCCC/SB/2020/2.

[3]                 See:  Note that this is an increase of two States since the SBI Report was drafted in November 2020 (Kuwait and Timor Leste submitted their NAPs in 2021).

[4]                 Ibid, para 63.

[5]                 Note that as at October 2020, it was 58 countries according to the GCC Report: FCCC/CP/2020/5, para 56.

[6]           This is the proposal of the AC, see: Report of the Adaptation Committee, FCCC/SB/2020/2.

[7]                 FCCC/SBI/2020/INF.13, para 48.

[8]                 See eg, FCCC/SBI/2020/INF.13, Annex IV (Support provided by organizations and programmes to developing countries under national adaptation plans).

[9]                 See also:

[10]               FCCC/SBI/2019/INF.15, para 34.

[11]               See:  Note that this is an increase of two States since the SBI Report was drafted in November 2020 (Kuwait and Timor Leste submitted their NAPs in 2021).

[12]               FCCC/SBI/2020/INF.13, para 28.

[13]               Ibid, para 38.

[14]               FCCC/SBI/2020/INF.13, paras 16-17.

[15]               See eg, para 61.

[16]               Ibid, para 14.

[17]               Ibid, para 55.

[18]               UNFCCC decision 7/CP.20, para 10; see also FCCC/CP/2020/5, para 22.

[19]               UNFCCC decision 1/CP.21, para 46; 1/CP.16, 5/CP.17.

[20]               FCCC/CP/2020/5, para 54.

[21]               FCCC/CP/2020/5, p 64, para 4(g).

[22]               Note that as at October 2020, it was 58 countries according to the GCC Report: FCCC/CP/2020/5, para 56.

[23]               Ibid, para 57.

[24]               Ibid, p 15, Figure 1.

[25]               Ibid, para 12.

[26]               FCCC/SBI/2020/INF.13, paras 16-17.p 7, Table 1: Measures undertaken in developing country Parties in the process to formulate and implement national adaptation plans as at 17 November 2020. Note: the GCF website notes that only 52 proposals have been accepted to date. See:

[27]               Ibid, para 26.

[28]               Ibid, para 17.

[29]               Ibid, Table 4, pp 12-13.

[30]               Ibid, para 43.

[31]          Report of the Global Environment Facility to the Conference of the Parties (FCCC/CP/2020/1).

[32]              See: 37th Meeting of Least Developed Countries Expert Group (FCCC/SBI/2020/6); 38th Meeting of the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (FCCC/SBI/2020/14); 39th Meeting of the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (FCCC/SBI/2021/6).

[33]              39th Meeting of the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (FCCC/SBI/2021/6)