The need for accountability in climate change adaptation

PhD Project

Human activities have altered Earth’s climate, rising temperatures of 0.8C above pre-industrial levels, increasing frequency and intensity of droughts and floods, and raising sea levels (IPCC, 2012). These impacts are not the same all over the world. Those with fewer resources tend to have the greatest burden of climate change in terms of loss of livelihoods (Baarsch et al., 2020). As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak pandemic, about 120 million additional people fell into poverty, and it is expected to rise to about 150 million by the end of 2021 (World Bank, 2021).

Within the UNFCCC and under the Paris Agreement – Article 7, parties agreed to establish a global goal on adaptation of enhancing adaptive capacity, reducing climate change vulnerability and strengthening resilience (UNFCCC, 2015). Even though adaptation interventions are taking place all around the world, it is crucial to have evidence of the effectiveness of adaptation projects (Prowse and Snilstveit, 2010). There is evidence that climate change adaptation activities frequently do not work as intended. (Owen, 2020).

Germany is one of the largest donors around the world in climate finance (Deutsche klimafinanzierung, 2020). The German government increased its climate finance from official budget funds nearly sevenfold (BMZ, 2019). The country has increased its funds from €471 million in 2005 to just over €2 billion in 2013 for climate change adaptation and mitigation projects. In 2013, 18% of its bilateral climate finance was channeled to Latin America and the Caribbean (Federal Ministry for the Environment Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, 2013). To assess vulnerability reduction, it is necessary to analyze the effectiveness of adaptation measures. There is a knowledge gap about effectiveness of adaptation policies and how they deal with climate risk (Gussmann and Hinkel, 2021).

Assessment of adaptation plans contributes to accountability of how support for adaptation is used, including financing (Thomas et al., 2019). Latin America and the Caribbean is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change and requires great investment to reduce vulnerability in the region and increase adaptive capacity. Understanding adaptation as a process where a system improves its conditions to face predictable future climate changes, while reducing the negative effects and taking advantage of the positive ones (IPCC, 2007).

This proposal intends to identify how are climate change adaptation projects financed by Germany in Latin America and the Caribbean addressing adaptation progress and overshoot proofing of adaptation strategies, how can assessment of adaptation ensure vulnerability reduction effectiveness and how can Germany strengthen Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) of adaptation systems to assess adaptation interventions’ effectiveness and increase effective climate finance in Latin America and the Caribbean.


header image by Luis Echeverría, 2010. Guatemala. Retrieved from: Flickr.