An Analysis of UNFCCC-Financed Coastal Adaptation Projects: Assessing Patterns of Project Design and Contributions to Adaptive Capacity

16 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2020

See all articles by Laura Kuhl

Laura Kuhl

Northeastern University - School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs

Date Written: 2020

Abstract

Coastal regions of developing countries are highly vulnerable to climate impacts. Climate change is projected to increase sea level rise, coastal storm events, and natural resource scarcity, impacting coastal ecosystems and societies. These climate impacts intersect with other anthropogenic stressors contributing to the degradation of coastal habitats and ecosystems (driven by, among other things, development, encroachment and pollution), increasing the risk of coastal hazards. Given the complexities of coastal adaptation and the reality of scarce financial and human resources, policymakers must make challenging decisions regarding which adaptation strategies to prioritize. This study seeks to understand:

1) What approaches to coastal adaptation have been most commonly implemented in projects financed through multilateral adaptation funds? and

2) Were the projects designed to build climate-specific or broader adaptive capacity?

Using a content analysis of project proposals for 60 coastal adaptation projects financed through multilateral adaptation funds across 39 countries (as well as two regional projects), we categorized adaptation approaches and assessed contributions to adaptive capacity. Our findings indicate that policy, planning, and capacity-building, as compared to more tangible implementation activities, have characterized most coastal adaptation projects in the past 15 years. We also found a common emphasis on climate-specific adaptive capacity which diverges from the widely discussed need to address climate change and development priorities synergistically. In the context of limited resources, decisions regarding which adaptation approaches to invest in inherently involves trade-offs that need to be explicitly acknowledged. While numerous regional studies have analyzed these trade-offs, our study provides a global context and identifies potential areas of under-investment for coastal adaptation in developing countries.

Keywords: Climate Adaptation, Coastal Resilience, Adaptive Capacity, Climate Finance, Ecosystem-Based Adaptation, Global

Suggested Citation

Kuhl, Laura, An Analysis of UNFCCC-Financed Coastal Adaptation Projects: Assessing Patterns of Project Design and Contributions to Adaptive Capacity (2020). World Development, Vol. 127, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3648217

Laura Kuhl (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs ( email )

343 Holmes Hall
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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