What is Adaptation?
Words that you will hear at COP27

In this article, I look at adaptation, which is one of the words that you will hear at COP27.
What is adaptation, what it is means and what we can expect at COP27 and beyond.


Climate change adaptation has been a central element in the intergovernmental negotiations carried out under the UNFCCC process. Negotiations on various items dealing with different aspects of adaptation are covered in the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement are currently ongoing under the negotiating bodies under the UNFCCC.

What is adaptation?

Adaptation refers to adjustments in ecological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic changes and their effects or impacts. It can refer to changes in processes, practices, and structures to moderate potential damages or to benefit from opportunities associated with climate change.

At its simplest, adaptation allows countries and communities to develop an adaptation solution and implement action to respond to the impacts of climate change that are already happening, as well as prepare for future impacts

Adaptation solutions take many shapes and forms, depending on the unique context of a community, business, organization, country or region. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all-solution’—adaptation can range from building flood defences, setting up early warning systems for storms and switching to drought-resistant crops. Many COP parties are already taking steps to build resilient societies and economies, but considerably greater action and ambition will be needed to cost-effectively manage the risks, both now and in the future.

What can we expect at COP27?

Adaptation is a key option for the reduction of climate change and lies at the heart of Parties’ efforts to achieve the overall purpose and long-term temperature goals set out in the Paris Agreement for holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.

Since 2001, at COP 7 in Marrakesh, COP Parties have acknowledged the specific needs of least developed countries (LDCs), in that they are least capable of dealing with the adverse effects of climate change, and adopted a dedicated package of decisions to support them. The LDC work programme includes, among other things, national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs).

Additionally, the COP established the national adaptation plan (NAP) process at COP 16 (2010) to enable Parties to formulate and implement NAPs as a means of identifying medium- and long-term adaptation needs and developing and implementing strategies and programmes to address those needs.

Under the Paris Agreement, each Party is required to put forward successive and progressively more ambitious nationally determined contributions (NDCs), representing its highest possible mitigation ambition. So, we should expect to see revised NDCs incorporating adaptation within this round of the COP process.

For more about the content of Nationally Determined Contributions, please click on the video here

If this article has helped to advance your understanding of adaptation within climate change and the COP27 meetings, please leave a comment in the box below, if this article has help you.

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