Locally Led Climate Adaptation

What Is Needed to Accelerate Action and Support?




Climate adaptation is the process of adjusting to present or future climate and its effects. Adaptation aims to mitigate or avoid harm from climate change and where possible exploit beneficial opportunities (IPCC 2014).

climate finance

Public and private finance that funds climate adaptation and mitigation action (IIED 2017).

community-based adaptation

Community-based adaptation (CBA) is an empowerment-based approach to adaptation that, via participatory processes, encourages community-level leadership in assessing risks, planning strategies, prioritizing resources, and implementing and monitoring adaptation measures (Mfitumukiza et al. 2020).

community-driven development

Community-driven development (CDD) programs “operate on the principles of transparency, participation, local empowerment, demand-responsiveness, greater downward accountability, and enhanced local capacity” (World Bank 2020).


Decentralization involves the transfer of public authority, resources, and personnel from the national level to subnational jurisdictions, bringing administrative, political, and fiscal planning and decision-making closer to citizens and increasing participation.


Devolution is a significant, authorized, and permanent transfer of capacity and/or powers from the central government to subnational governing institutions with often constitutionally mandated legislative and decision-making powers.

direct access and

enhanced direct access

In the direct access approach, oversight, management, and implementation of activities are delegated by a global fund to the national level via vetted entities that then work closely together to develop work programs, concept notes, and project development capacities (GCF n.d.).

With enhanced direct access approaches, oversight, management, and implementation are delegated by the global fund to the national level (Müller 2013). A degree of oversight is maintained at the international level to report on the fund’s activities and ensure good practices, but specific projects are proposed or decided by the executing entities, allowing more stakeholder-driven and locally led adaptation (GCF 2019; Müller 2013).

locally led adaptation

Locally led adaptation is climate adaptation action in which local communities, community-based organizations, citizen groups, local government, and local private sector entities at the lowest administrative structure are key decision-makers in the interventions that affect them. These local actors have leadership roles that include decision-making powers to identify resources and priorities needed, investments to be made, and who to involve in the design, execution, and monitoring and evaluation of projects and programs (Mfitumukiza et al. 2020). Locally led adaptation goes beyond community engagement and applies only when local actors have agency and decision-making power on how to address climate impacts. It features deliberate efforts to incorporate social equity and inclusion principles.

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