AF funded project in Rwanda implemented by the Rwanda Ministry of Environment aims to increase the adaptive capacity of natural systems and rural communities living in exposed areas of North Western Rwanda to climate change impacts through an integrated natural resource management and alternative livelihoods programme. (Photo by AF)

Adaptation Fund Year in Review: 2020 Key Highlights and Accomplishments

Against the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 brought new challenges for vulnerable societies in developing countries that were already hit hard by climate change. The Adaptation Fund has been there since the onset of the pandemic, providing immediate responses by taking measures to help build resilience, giving flexibility to projects to adapt directly during the pandemic, making decisions on funding new concrete projects, and expanding and offering new grant funding windows focused on scaling up effective projects, fostering learning and innovation in adaptation to keep pace with high demand. Many Fund projects have adapted directly to continue to build resilience in creative and safe ways during the pandemic. It was also the first climate fund to hold a virtual Board meeting and approve projects virtually amid the pandemic, and has adapted to continue to deliver to the most vulnerable, and provide virtual project visits, knowledge products, online trainings, webinars and other resources.

The Fund also continued to help vulnerable countries build capacity to adapt through its Readiness and Accreditation programmes through virtual country exchanges and the approval of several new implementing entities with the capability to identify, develop and implement effective adaptation projects across the globe. Of the Fund’s 32 national implementing entities (NIEs) accredited under its pioneering Direct Access modality that builds country ownership in adaptation, half are in LDCs or SIDS, reflecting its focus on the most vulnerable to climate change.

In addition, the Technical Evaluation Reference Group of the Adaptation Fund (AF-TERG) has grown and is working continually to advance independent evaluations of the Fund’s work to further enhance its effectiveness.

The Adaptation Fund reached 114 concrete adaptation projects on the ground after new approvals during the year, and also continued to expand its offerings by implementing new tools and grants to help meet the growing urgency of climate change and record demand for its work. Through its Innovation Facility, the Fund’s Board approved a window for large innovation grants in October and launched a new small grants programme (Adaptation Fund Climate Innovation Accelerator) in November that offers innovation grants to a diverse range of stakeholders, including community groups, entrepreneurs and young innovators. It also approved a dedicated funding window for Enhanced Direct Access, which builds on Direct Access by empowering NIEs to directly identify and fund local adaptation projects.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fund continued helping the most vulnerable communities in developing countries across the globe to adapt and build resilience to climate change. Many Fund projects directly adapted to the pandemic by providing immediate responses to vulnerable communities and building broader resilience to climate change as well as environmental, health and economic risks. It held its first virtual project visit to Costa Rica in August, reaching many local partners and beneficiaries across the country. It then held a virtual Country Exchange in December in Senegal with several NIEs sharing successes and knowledge in coastal zone management. It included the use of drone video footage to highlight the successes of the Senegal project on the ground.

The Fund concluded 2020 on a high note in December, by successfully raising US$ 116 million in new pledges to coincide with the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement. It will help the Fund respond to increased adaptation funding needs among developing countries and build broader resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reflecting the urgency of adaptation finance, the Board received a record high in new proposals for its June review period, and in November raised its annual resource mobilization target for 2020 and 2021 by a third, to US$ 120 million. A growing diverse range of contributors are coming forward, recognizing its effective work on the ground for the most vulnerable — with 22 governments to date having pledged support to the Fund.

As we enter the new year facing the compound impacts of climate change and COVID-19, the need for adaptation action and a resilient recovery will become more urgent. The Adaptation Fund will continue to work with the most vulnerable to build climate resilience and reduce future risks, while laying foundations for a resilient recovery and continuing to offer flexible, innovative and effective financing to meet the adaptation needs of countries.

Adaptation Fund Top News Stories

Adaptation Fund Raises Nearly US$ 116 Million in New Pledges for Adaptation Action in Most Vulnerable Countries

December 2020 – Recognizing the Adaptation Fund’s tangible and effective adaptation actions on the ground for the most vulnerable and its growing portfolio of work, several contributor governments came forward with new pledges to the Fund totaling nearly US$ 116 million. Read more

Adaptation Fund Accelerates Climate Responses through its Pillars of Action, Innovation, and Learning and Sharing

December 2020 – New Adaptation Fund grants scaled up sustainable land and water management practices in Rwanda to adapt to extreme rainfall, applying innovative approaches to establish emergency water access stations to address drought in vulnerable urban areas of Chile, and disseminating knowledge of effective coastal management practices in Senegal. Read more

USD 10 Million to Foster Innovation of Adaptation Practices in Vulnerable Countries Now Available to Diverse Group of Potential Recipients

November 2020 – The Adaptation Fund together with the United Nations Environment Programme, the Climate Technology Centre and Network and the United Nations Development Programme launched a new USD 10 million small grants programme funded by the Adaptation Fund. The Adaptation Fund Climate Innovation Accelerator, or AFCIA, aims to foster innovation in climate change adaptation in developing countries by offering grants to a diverse range of stakeholders. Read more

Adaptation Fund Board Approves Additional Funding Windows to Provide New Adaptation Opportunities for Vulnerable Countries

November 2020 – The Adaptation Fund Board established new funding windows for large innovation grants and Enhanced Direct Access to provide vulnerable countries with further opportunities to access funds needed on the ground. It also greenlighted several new grants on the ground. Read more

New Adaptation Fund Study Showcases Effective Locally-Led Actions On the Ground

October 2020 – A new study produced by the Adaptation Fund showcases common successful threads in several AF projects that highlight the importance of locally-led action in adaptation (LLA) in building resilience to climate change among vulnerable communities.

Adaptation Fund’s First Virtual Project Visit a Success

September 2020 – Rural farmers and project implementers joined a visit in early August from the Adaptation Fund to a project it funds in Costa Rica in the Fund’s first virtual portfolio monitoring mission (PMM), organized by the Fund in the context of restrictions due to the COVID19 pandemic. The visit was hosted with the Fund’s NIE in Costa Rica, Fundecooperacion para el Desarrollo Sostenible, and was able to reach several project areas. Read more

Adaptation Fund Projects Build Climate Resilience While Promoting Sustainable Development

May 2020 – Adaptation Fund (AF) projects are helping the most vulnerable communities in developing countries across the globe adapt and build resilience to climate change. Often their inherent adaptation measures also help build broader resilience at the same time, such as to environmental, health and economic risks, while fostering sustainable development. This is proving beneficial during climate disasters as well as crises such as the novel COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

Hill Women of India’s Himalayas Chart Path in Fight against COVID-19 Impacts for Isolated Communities

May 2020 – Women’s self-help groups (SHGs) who are part of a project funded by the Adaptation Fund in India within a vulnerable sub Himalayan region have been stitching thousands of protective masks to meet emergent community needs in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

Adaptation Fund Board Chair Aims to Build on AF Achievements, Expand AF Revenue Sources and Country Funding Opportunities

April 2020 – The Adaptation Fund Board held its first virtual Board meeting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was made among a series of procedural moves by the Board in a scaled down virtual meeting held on April 2 aimed at swearing in new members. sals may be reviewed intersessionally by the Board through email vote in the coming days. Read more

Notification to National, Regional and Multilateral Implementing Entities of the Adaptation Fund in relation to COVID-19 outbreak

March 2020 – As most countries around the world have been impacted by the current outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), it has caused multiple and unpredictable challenges. We are all feeling the effects of this situation and doing our best to ensure smooth conduct of our operations. Read more

Tweets of the Year

Top Media Stories

State of Climate Services 2020 Report: Move from Early Warnings to Early Action

October 2020 – The report, produced by 16 international agencies including the Adaptation Fund and other financing institutions, identifies where and how governments can invest in effective early warning systems that strengthen countries’ resilience to multiple weather, climate and water-related hazards and provides successful examples. Read related story from The Hill

Climate change adaptation projects continue amid coronavirus pandemic

September 2020 – From Honduras to Uzbekistan, the Adaptation Fund is helping countries build resilience to environmental, health and economic challenges. The Fund’s climate adaptation and resilience projects are continuing to help some of the most vulnerable communities on Earth, despite the impact of the coronavirus. Read more from Climate Home News

Ecosystem-based adaptation project reduces flood risk in Seychelles

June 2020 – The ongoing threat of rising sea levels means the nation of Seychelles, much like the Maldives, is effectively sinking, and that doesn’t bode well for the vast share of the country’s population who inhabit coastal zones. But by using an adaptation strategy grounded in the use of natural resources, the Seychelles is strengthening its resilience to the changing climate. Read more from Climate Home News

From Communities to Healthcare Workers

April 2020 – During the COVID-19 outbreak, like all hospitals around the world, hospitals in Sri Lanka are also facing shortages of medical supplies, specifically Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits. At a critical time such as this where a community effort was needed the most, an AF-funded project was able to support the need of the hour through its ongoing Climate Change Adaptation Project (CCAP II) by teaming up with Green Coop, a collective of medical doctors and professionals from indigenous health, agriculture, and journalism sectors. Read more from UNDP


[VIDEO] Adaptation Fund- Serving the Paris Agreement through action, innovation and learning

December 2020 – The video showcases key achievements of the Adaptation Fund in the context of serving the Paris Agreement based on the Fund’s strategic vision of enhancing adaptation action, innovation and learning. Watch video


[PODCAST] Building Climate Resilience: Readiness and Capacity Building

October 2020 – Mr. Farayi Madziwa, Coordinator of the AF’s Climate Finance Readiness Programme, talks about the importance of Readiness in adaptation and how the AF’s Readiness Programme has supported the most vulnerable communities through a variety of activities and tools. He also discusses how the Fund’s Readiness Programme has adapted to working during the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to deliver support to countries and NIEs. Listen to podcast

[VIDEO] Building Resilience in the COVID-19 Crisis

September 2020 – The COVID-19 crisis hit vulnerable societies in developing countries that were already hit hard by climate change. Mr. Mikko Ollikainen, Manager of the Adaptation Fund, talks about how Adaptation Fund projects respond to COVID-19 challenges by adapting directly to help with the crisis while building resilience to climate change, as well as environmental, health and economic challenges. Watch video.

[VIDEO] Building Nature based Climate Change Resilience

July 2020 – Today’s emerging health challenges are rooted in our relationship with nature. Adaptation Fund projects employ nature-based solutions to help vulnerable communities adapt to the impacts of climate change. Nature based climate change resilience is also resilience to today’s environmental, health and economic challenges. Watch video

[PODCAST] Building Climate Resilience: Adapting in Time of Pandemic

July 2020 – Mr. Mikko Ollikainen discusses how Adaptation Fund projects are building resilience to climate change in vulnerable communities, and also broader resilience against environmental, health and economic risks through their inherent adaptation measures. He also discusses how some projects are adapting to directly help with the crisis in creative ways. He provides further details on virtual events and online tools and studies the Fund is offering, and the continued growth and progress of the Fund’s work overall as it formally serves the Paris Agreement. Listen to podcast

[VIDEO] Take Flight to View Adaptation Fund Projects Across Globe

May 2020 – Today’s challenges call for new perspectives. Take a drone flight to view Adaptation Fund projects around the world that are building resilience to climate change, while at the same time contributing to building broader resilience and fostering sustainable development. Watch video


Attachment Type Size
Adaptation Fund Year in Review 2020 PDF 3 MB