As floods, droughts and food crises occur more often, communities find they have less time and resources to recover. These poor communities, often living on the edge of disaster, need to be able to access new technologies and simple methods to adapt to the changing climate, to fight their way out of poverty.

Wealthy nations, being signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), have a moral and legal obligation to help those already suffering who have contributed least to the problem. While there is development aid available to developing countries, this should not be diverted to tackle climate change. There must be separate funding available to allow vulnerable communities to adapt.

“Western countries can control their greenhouse gas emissions but to mitigate the effects will take a long time. Until then, they can help countries like Nepal to adapt. Unless the country learns to adapt, then people will suffer greatly.”
Gehendra Gurung, Practical Action, Nepal

At present the funds available to assist poor people to adapt to climate change are too low – almost non existent. It has been estimated that around $50 billion each year will be needed. Yet international climate change agreements have not suggested the introduction of compulsory adaptation funding. Existing UN funds are simply not sufficient to cover this enormous task.

The Strategic Priority on Adaptation, the Least Developed Countries Fund and the Special Climate Change Fund altogether only amount to $232 million, a mere drop in the ocean. In addition, the Adaptation Fund will be created through a 2% levy on carbon credits generated under the Clean Development Mechanism, but this will not be active until at least 2010.

Practical Action believes bottom-up, community-based adaptation projects must be put in place urgently. There should be special funds to provide adequate and sustainable resources for adaptation, which should be over and above the committed development aid, that is 0.7% of the Gross Domestic Product of developed countries. These funds should be targeted to ensure the most vulnerable communities are served first and foremost.

Practical Action would support the ‘Adaptation Financing Index’ developed by Oxfam to establish who should pay based on responsibility, capability and equity – that is 75% by the EU and US. Poor people have a right to adapt – it is not a matter of aid but of justice.

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