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‘As Temperatures Rise and Climate Change Impacts Intensify, Nations Must “Urgently” Step Up Action to Adapt to the New Climate Reality or Face Serious Costs, Damages and Losses’

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Implementation of nature-based solutions has been growing. But there is an urgent need to gather more evidence on the outcomes of adaption projects worldwide. As temperatures rise and climate change impacts intensify, nations must urgently step up action to adapt to the new climate reality or face serious costs, damages and losses, the 2020 edition of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Adaptation Gap Report finds.*  

(UNEP)* — Implementation of nature-based solutions has been growing worldwide for the past two decades. Since 2006, multilateral funds serving the Paris Agreement have backed around 400 adaptation projects in developing countries, half of which started after 2015. The majority focus on agriculture and water, with drought, rainfall variability, flooding and coastal impacts.

Figure ES.7 Global map of nature-based solution initiatives for adaptation, showing the number of investments per country, the geographic distribution of cities reporting on nature-based solution activities (red-dots), and the regional distribution of hazards being addressed by nature-based solutions (pie charts)

There has been an increase not only in the number of projects, but also their size. While earlier projects rarely exceeded USD 10 million, 21 new projects have reached over USD 25 million since 2017. The Green Climate Fund, Least-Developed Country Fund and Adaptation Fund have together reached more than 20 million direct and indirect beneficiaries.

However, an extensive analysis of adaptation actions surveyed in scientific articles showed that the majority were in early stages of implementation, only 3 per cent were able to report on bringing real reductions to climate risks. The report demonstrates an urgent need to gather more evidence on the outcomes of adaption projects and initiatives worldwide. It also recommends that countries adopt stronger implementation to avoid falling behind.

Nature Based Solutions in Action:

El Salvador – the “Sponge City”

Hector Velasquez stands next to part of a landslide on his coffee farm. This landslide was just one of 154 caused by Storm Amanda in San Salvador.
Hector Velasquez stands next to part of a landslide on his coffee farm. This landslide was just one of 154 caused by Storm Amanda in San Salvador. Photo by CityAdapt

When coffee farmer, Hector Velasquez was a child, rainfall in his hometown San Salvador was a continuous but light drizzle spread across eight months. But, in recent years, climate change has made extreme storms more common in El Salvador. Floods and landslides are washing away topsoil, and with it the fertility of the coffee plantations, that are vital for the country’s economy.

But, a movement is underway to change that. City officials and coffee farmers, with support from UNEP and Global Environment Facility, have launched a project to restore 1,150 hectares of forests and coffee plantations.

Known as CityAdapt, it’s premised on a simple fact: trees and other vegetation can be used as sponges, drawing enormous quantities of water into the earth, preventing erosion, limiting floods and recharging groundwater supplies for times of drought. CityAdapt has already helped plant over 3500 fruit trees in El Salvador, and by 2022, will reduce risk of flooding for 115,000 people. Read more

Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) is an approach that uses ecosystem services as part of a holistic adaptation strategy. Often through win-win outcomes, EbA protects vulnerable communities from extreme weather while simultaneously providing a variety of benefits so crucial for human well-being, such as clean water and food.


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