CAN Europe letter to Timmermans on international action on adaptation

Global transition

To live up to the Paris Agreement, the EU needs to rapidly step up international action on adaptation and address the adaptation finance gap. As the impacts of climate change hit the poorest communities the hardest, tackling inequalities must be at the centre of these efforts. In a letter to EC Vice President Timmermans, CAN Europe shares its recommendations on how adaptation challenges can be addressed in the forthcoming EU Adaptation Strategy and its implementation.  

To: European Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal
CC: Directors DG CLIMA, INTPA, NEAR; Secretary General EEAS

Delivering on the Paris Agreement and supporting global resilience: tackling inequalities and adaptation challenges in climate vulnerable countries through the EU Adaptation Strategy

Dear Vice President Timmermans,

We welcome your remarks at the Climate Adaptation Summit on 25 Jan 2021 on the European Commission’s ambitions for international cooperation, and the forthcoming EU Adaptation Strategy.

Intensifying global cooperation and increasing support to climate vulnerable countries and communities is essential to supporting a global green recovery and tackling the climate crisis. As you stated, the poorest communities pay the highest price for climate impacts. Without rapid action many communities will not survive. Therefore the EU needs to step up its international action on adaptation using all tools at its disposal, and put tackling inequalities at the centre of its approach.

Addressing the adaptation finance gap should underpin these efforts. Under the Paris Agreement climate finance contributors should achieve a balance between mitigation and adaptation, considering the need for public and grant-based resources for adaptation. [1]

The following recommendations set out how the EU can advance the adaptation finance agenda in international fora and negotiations, and take a more coherent approach to tackling adaptation challenges through its external action instruments and frameworks. We hope that you can take them into consideration for the forthcoming EU Adaptation Strategy and its implementation.

Delivering on international commitments

To support resilience-building in response to global crises, the EU should advance strong positions on adaptation finance at negotiations. The EU should support achieving a 50% balance in mitigation and adaptation finance, and prioritise grants rather than loans:

  • Ahead of COP26 EU Member States should advance ambitious new and additional climate finance commitments for 2021-25, which scale up grants-based adaptation finance
  • At COP26 in its approach to the new international post-2025 climate finance goal the EU should support dedicated sub-goals for adaptation, loss and damage and public and grants- based finance
  • At COP26 the EU should support the adoption of a solution for new and additional loss and damage finance, to support communities dealing with the increasing instances where adaptation efforts have been breached.

Programming the Global Europe Instrument

The new EU budget funds available under the Global Europe Instrument will dedicate 30% to climate action. The new EU Adaptation Strategy will need to build on this to ensure the instrument supports adaptation and builds resilience of communities:

  • Ensure support for adaptation is maintained at over 50% of earmarked climate funding
  • All projects and programmes should be resilient to climate impacts by means of more comprehensive climate screening processes, which should also apply to investments through the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+).
  • Support should be provided to dedicated adaptation projects and those that combine multiple other objectives including poverty alleviation; health, human development, gender equality. Funding must be accessible to local actors and indigenous peoples.

The EU Africa Partnership Strategy

The 1°C warmer world already presents a huge challenge to Africa in terms of adaptation needs and in losses and damages; stronger action on adaptation and loss and damage is essential to build societal and economic resilience. The new Partnership Strategy needs to:

  • Support enhancing adaptation in partner countries’ climate plans and national adaptation plans (NAPs)
  • Make specific commitments to supporting dedicated adaptation projects and programmes, spanning infrastructure and natural resource management, including water, agroecology and development of climate-resilient agriculture by smallholders and small-scale farmers, community-based projects and disaster risk reduction and preparedness which can help to address and prevent the risks of forced displacement.
  • Support African-owned and led initiatives from local, regional to intercontinental level.

The EIB Climate Bank Roadmap: finance for adaptation in developing countries

The Adaptation Action Plan under the new EIB Climate Bank Roadmap must give special consideration to encouraging investment in adaptation in developing countries, without exacerbating debt vulnerabilities. The plan should:

  • Substantially increase adaptation finance by ring-fencing support [2] and provide highly concessional adaptation finance
  • Focus on locally led adaptation and grant more direct access to finance, with simpler access modalities for local institutions and actors, address structural inequalities faced by women, youth, the disabled and excluded ethnic groups
  • Give special consideration to the agroecological transition and farmers’ adaptation efforts, and stop supporting industrial agriculture which is not compatible with climate objectives
  • Ensure that all financing from the Bank is ‘adaptation-proof’ through comprehensive screening and requirements to address risks. This should be accompanied by technical assistance, capacity building and advisory services for the development of viable and inclusive business models, supporting access to environmental data and ensuring that there are no barriers to smaller actors to meet requirements. The EIB should seek to incorporate local, indigenous and scientific knowledge in EIB services.

Yours sincerely.
Wendel Trio, Director, CAN Europe


[1] ACT Alliance EU, Setting the Standard; Care, Fact or Fiction
[2] At the Climate Adaptation Summit the UNSG called on MDBs to commit to delivering 50% of climate finance to adaptation by COP26, and to deliver on this at least by 2024