Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary

Real Action on Adaptation


About the Cyberlibrary

The Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary was developed by Mick Kelly and Sarah Granich on behalf of the Stockholm Environment Institute and the International Institute for Environment and Development, with sponsorship from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

While every effort is made to ensure that information on this site, and on other sites that are referenced here, is accurate, no liability for loss or damage resulting from use of this information can be accepted.

Sven Harmeling Sven Harmeling argues that a paradigm shift on adaptation is essential.
The author is senior advisor on climate and development with Germanwatch.

To implement adaptation in developing countries beyond just a short-term perspective, given that further future climate impacts can no longer be avoided, international policies need to provide a functioning, actionoriented framework to ensure further scaling-up, predictability and continuity. This requires a paradigm shift from how adaptation has been dealt with so far.

One important task that such an adaptation action framework needs to fulfil is to strengthen international activities to facilitate adaptation planning and implementation at national levels and promote the exchange of knowledge and experience gained. Moreover, the framework should ensure that easy, predictable and direct support (finance, technical expertise, capacity building) can be delivered, prioritizing those who are most vulnerable - communities, people and countries - and that measures to ensure ecosystem functions are maintained.

Furthermore, in order to be successful, the framework needs to build on key principles. First, it must ensure maximum national, local and community level involvement and ownership over all aspects of adaptation planning and implementation and protection of the rights of indigenous people. Second, it should promote an integrated approach that enhances the climate resilience especially of the poor, in particular women, children, indigenous people and the disproportionately affected. Finally, it must include proper monitoring and evaluation of support and actions, building on in-country experience, to ensure effective adaptation planning and implementation.

The current approach to an international adaptation response is far away from what is required. Resources provided by developed countries are not even sufficient to cover the most urgent adaptation needs, lack the required predictability and are channelled through a very fragmented funding structure. Developing countries are supported (and asked) to prepare plans and strategies, such as the National Adaptation Programmes of Action, but can never be sure whether their implementation will receive sufficient and predictable support.

Any agreement on adaptation under the climate treaty should be measured against these key deliverables, how far it contributes to achieving an appropriate international response, or, in a negative case, how far it locks into a state of low ambition on adaptation for the coming decades. Of course, any such response will not be effective without the required development paradigm shift in developed as well as developing countries, namely to pursue a low carbon development pathway in order to deliver the necessary emission cuts.

Further information

Sven Harmeling, Germanwatch eV, Büro Bonn Dr Werner-Schuster-Haus Kaiserstr 201, D-53113 Bonn, Germany. Fax: +49-228-6049219. Email: harmeling@germanwatch.org. Web: www.germanwatch.org.

On the Web

A briefing paper on this topic is available from Germanwatch. The Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary lists selected websites covering adaptation.

Bright Ideas

GE cuts solar costs

General Electric plans to cut solar installation costs by half

Project 90 by 2030

Project 90 by 2030 supports South African school children and managers reduce their carbon footprint through its Club programme

Smart street lighting

Bath & North East Somerset Council in the United Kingdom has installed smart LED carriageway lighting that automatically adjusts to light and traffic levels

Longwood Gardens

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the American Public Gardens Association are mounting an educational exhibit at Longwood Gardens showing the link between temperature and planting zones

Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers

The energy-efficient Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers hotel is powered by renewable and sustainable sources, including integrated solar photovoltaics and guest-powered bicycles

El Hierro

El Hierro, one of the Canary Islands, plans to generate 80 per cent of its energy from renewable sources

Remarkables Primary School green roof

The green roof on the Remarkables Primary School in New Zealand reduces stormwater runoff, provides insulation and doubles as an outdoor classroom

Weather Info for All

The Weather Info for All project aims to roll out up to five thousand automatic weather observation stations throughout Africa


SolSource turns its own waste heat into electricity or stores it in thermal fabrics, harnessing the sun's energy for cooking and electricity for low-income families

Wave House

The Wave House uses vegetation for its architectural and environmental qualities, and especially in terms of thermal insulation

Mbale compost-processing plant

The Mbale compost-processing plant in Uganda produces cheaper fertilizer and reduces greenhouse gas emissions

Frito-Lay Casa Grande

At Casa Grande, Frito-Lay has reduced energy consumption by nearly a fifth since 2006 by, amongst other things, installing a heat recovery system to preheat cooking oil

More Bright Ideas...

Updated: May 15th 2015