How well are National Adaptation Programme of Actions (NAPAs) integrated with national development strategies in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs)? This paper examines 41 NAPAs from the LDCs. It argues that NAPAs compel developing countries to focus on immediate priorities at the expense of longer-term climate change concerns, such as population growth. The global community needs to adopt longer-term approaches that stress the link between adaptation and development.
NAPAs were established to help address the vulnerability of the LDCs to climate change and were established in 2001 as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). NAPAs, which are supposed to link with national development processes, provide an avenue for LDCs to identify priority activities that respond to their urgent and immediate adaptation needs.
A majority of the 41 NAPAs identify rapid population growth as an key component of vulnerability to climate change impacts. However, few chose to prioritise NAPA funds for family planning/reproductive health programmes. Countries are faced with competing development priorities and climate change challenges. The NAPA process compels countries to prioritise projects that are geared towards immediate priorities in single sectors. Thus, countries have prioritised the alleviation of food insecurity and water resource scarcity.
Most NAPAs focus entirely on small-scale project-based interventions to be financed or co-financed by donors. This project-based response fails to engage with wider adaptation and development policies.
- Analysis of the 41 NAPAs reveals that even though all the documents have a section on linking to national development plans, the two are often not well aligned.
- Thirty-one countries (76 per cent) have NAPAs that do not clearly demonstrate the link with national development processes. A smaller group of ten countries (24 per cent) clearly establish links, complete with detailed analyses and proposed projects.
- Thirty-seven NAPAs highlighted population growth as a factor exacerbating the effects of climate change. However, only six (Comoros, Ethiopia, Gambia, Kiribati, Uganda and Zambia) clearly state that investments in family planning/reproductive health should be prioritised.
- Among these, only Uganda actually proposes a project with components of family planning/reproductive health among its priority adaptation interventions. This project, however, has not been funded.
A decade after the 2001 accord that established NAPAs, not all have been developed and few are underway. The following measures could assist the move to longer-term strategies that meet the development needs of poorer countries.
- New political structures are needed to link adaptation and development, perhaps through national commissions located in the offices of prime ministers or presidents.
- Guidance and funding from global sources must reinforce the need to address adaptation in the context of national development and the need to ensure that development plans incorporate climate change.
- A mix of short- and longer-term projects that involve participation across development sectors is important to ensure that the range of people’s needs is met.
- Adaptation should also strengthen social (community) and human (individual) capital. Education, for example, is critical for strengthening human capital, yet it is not a sector included in the UNFCCC.
- Population issues, including family planning/reproductive health (and other actions to reduce unintended pregnancy) should be included in harmonised longer-term adaptation strategies and national development plans.