working paper

Locally Led Adaptation

From Principles to Practice

Tamara Coger Ayesha Dinshaw Stefanie Tye Bradley Kratzer May Thazin Aung Eileen Cunningham Candice Ramkissoon Suranjana Gupta Md. Bodrud-Doza Ariana Karamallis Samson Mbewe Ainka Granderson Glenn Dolcemascolo Anwesha Tewary Afsara Mirza Anna Carthy
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Methodology, Limitations, and Interpretation

The observations presented in this paper were derived from a selection of 21 examples of locally led adaptation, which were prepared by the implementing organizations and their partners. These examples were initially collected to inform a regional dialogue series on scaling locally led adaptation, which was held between September and October 2021. These dialogues were part of a process supported by the United Kingdom COP26 Presidency, the Adaptation Action Coalition (AAC), and the High-Level Climate Champions Race to Resilience to inform discussions on locally led adaptation at COP26 in November 2021.1

The methodology entailed four steps: selecting examples of LLA efforts for inclusion; documenting and analyzing qualitative information on each of the examples; validating this information with experts directly involved in the examples; and reviewing approaches and learnings about LLA implementation.

To source the case examples included in this paper, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) reached out to partner organizations including civil society partners and experts working on locally led adaptation. A survey was also sent to a network of more than 150 individuals engaged in a locally led adaptation community of practice. A consortium of 10 organizations partnering under the AAC’s Locally Led Adaptation Workstream selected the included examples: Centro para la Autonomía y Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas (CADPI; Center for the Autonomy and Development of Indigenous Peoples), the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), ENDA, Huairou Commission, the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), IIED, Save the Children Australia, Slum Dwellers International, SouthSouthNorth (SSN), and WRI.

The examples of efforts to support locally led adaptation were selected based on the following criteria:

  • Alignment with the Principles for Locally Led Adaptation, and fulfillment of both Principle 1 on decentralized decision-making and Principle 2 on addressing structural inequalities;2 this criterion was used as a threshold for delivering locally led processes3
  • Availability of information on the demonstrated locally led processes, recognizing that formal documentation of many examples of LLA has not been available to date
  • Diversity of funding mechanisms—examples represent grassroots- and civil society–led funds, donor-supported funds, loan funds, cooperative funds, grant facilities, microfinance facilities, and public policy and government initiatives
  • Diversity of geographic contexts—examples represent a range of geographic regions and levels, including global, regional, national, and subnational initiatives from Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia-Pacific regions

The organizations directly implementing or supporting the interventions provided most of the data and information about each example in the form of presentations, interviews, and written summaries. The analytical framework used the Principles for LLA and analysis of aspects of locally led adaptation by Tye and Suarez (2021), and included elements like quality of finance, integration of local knowledge, and degree of local ownership. The framework was also used to categorize these observations by other features such as location, stakeholder group, funding mechanism type, and funding source. Before applying this framework to review the full set of selected examples, the authors applied it to a smaller subset to ensure that the method sufficiently captured the data of interest.

The paper’s findings and recommendations were shaped by the small sample size and the limited extent of documented data for these examples. It therefore provides an overview of a wide range of approaches from different contexts, rather than an in-depth analysis of a few approaches. The observations and lessons learned should not be considered generalizable or definitive, but rather are intended to be adapted to other relevant contexts as appropriate. The paper does not provide findings about outcomes or impacts of the included examples of LLA, but rather focuses on effectiveness in terms of process and explores approaches and learning. Given the dynamic nature of adaptation to climate change and the frequently long time periods required to be able to measure outcomes and impacts of adaptation interventions, it is not possible to rely on measuring impact alone. Understanding how to improve the process of adaptation is critical to addressing climate risk (Christiansen et al. 2018).

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