What's ahead for adaptation in 2018?


Image: Robert Heath

So, here we are – it’s the middle of January and 2018 feels like it’s already well underway! In the UK we’ve had the launch of the new 25-year plan for the environment, positive announcements on payments for ecosystem services from Michael Gove (I know, I didn’t expect to be writing that either), and the EU has moved to make all plastics recyclable by 2030. Amongst all of that I thought we’d take a pause and look to what’s on the adaptation horizon for 2018*. My worthy, January-inspired ambition, is to turn each of these into a separate blog over the next few months. . .but don’t quote me on it!

  • Climate risks, MDBs and the TCFD: 2017 saw a growing number of financial institutions signing up to the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure recommendations on disclosing and managing climate risks, and in 2018 we fully expect that momentum to grow and grow, with not just financial institutions, but a raft of other businesses beginning to take climate risk management seriously. Meanwhile, the MDBs, who’ve been grappling with this issue for a while now, are ramping up efforts to meet ambitious targets on both the screening of climate risks throughout their portfolios, and spending on climate finance.
  • From tracking finance to measuring impact: there’s clear recognition of the need not only to track spending on adaptation, but also to ensure that metrics are in place to adequately assess the impact of that finance. This is not a new issue by any means, but as finance for adaptation increases there’s a growing pressure to demonstrate what it has achieved.
  • Climate finance to the local level: there’s an increasing focus on how to ensure that local communities have access to the finance they need in order to adapt to climate change. IIED, for example, estimate that only around 10% of international climate finance reaches the local level, and as such is failing to meet the needs of the poorest communities. Understanding how to mobilise both public private funds to support building resilience at the local level is a key area for me this year.
  • New technologies: blockchain, big data, drones and everything in between: 2017 saw blockchain technology emerge as everyone’s favourite new technology, and it’s no surprise that the benefits of blockchain for adaptation and mitigation have also been mooted. Its decentralized and transparent nature offer potential benefits for areas such as tracking climate finance, but a lot of work will be needed to show clear use cases for the technology. Meanwhile, the application of big data to environmental issues gathers pace, while the availability of cheap drones has started to allow farmers to monitor and assess crop needs with great precision, allowing targeted application of water and fertilizer. As ever with technological innovation, there’s big potential, but no silver bullet, and the key will be sensible and targeted use if that potential is to be realised for adaptation.

* this is a personal selection of topics, and by no means intended as an exhaustive list!

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