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Financing from the Ground Up – Experiences in Adaptation Finance from Southeast Asia

Climate adaptation finance, a critical resource for developing countries, can sometimes be governed via national-level institutions that are disconnected from the contexts and needs of local people.
Severe flooding in Thailand


Like many vulnerable regions, Southeast Asia depends on climate change adaptation finance to lessen the impact of a warming world on its people and economies. Yet there are several barriers to accessing adequate amounts of adaptation finance and governing funds once they have been allocated. As a result, adaptation priorities can often be set by national level institutions where relatively high capacity exists and may then be disconnected from the contexts and needs of local people.

This brief is the third in a series summarizing research carried out for the 2017 AdaptationWatch Report. It presents perspectives from Ken MacClune from the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition, who sets out five barriers to the provision of finance for climate adaptation, and offers policy pointers for overcoming them.

The five barriers and policy pointers from the report are provided below. Download the full text from the right-hand column for more detail.

Five Barriers for Adaptation Finance

  1. Definitions of climate adaptation are constantly evolving
  2. The multi-scale nature of climate change means that climate modeling can be insufficiently specific at sub-national scales and the decision-making timelines of officials may not be compatible with the climate problem
  3. Adaptation finance is provided through a fragmented network of institutions, some of which operate under the UN, and others which don’t
  4. There are a limited number of actors who are approved to deal directly with large climate funds
  5. It is often difficult to define and recognize “bankable” adaptation projects

Policy Pointers

  • Increase connectivity between local stakeholders/decisionmakers and national actors in order to ensure local needs are accounted for
  • Develop national climate funds that make use of small-grants facilities to bridge the gap between local needs and international funding mechanisms
  • Simplify access to climate adaptation finance at the international and national level, while continuing to build the capacity for engagement among local actors


Ken MacClune, Institute for Social and Environmental Transition (ISET), Boulder, USA

Suggested Citation

MacClune, K. (2017). Financing from the Ground Up: Experiences in Adaptation Finance from Southeast Asia.AdaptationWatch Weekly Briefing.

Read other articles in the series:

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