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National Adaptation Plans (NAPs)

The UNFCCC's National Adaptation Plans process for least developed countries
Multiple Authors
Pablo Larco


Adapting to climate change is becoming a routine and necessary component of planning at all levels. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) established the national adaptation plan (NAP) process as a way to facilitate adaptation planning in least developed countries (LDCs) and other development countries.

Its objectives are: (a) To reduce vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, by building adaptive capacity and resilience, and (b) To facilitate the integration of climate change adaptation, in a coherent manner, into relevant new and existing policies, programmes and activities, in particular development planning processes and strategies, within all relevant sectors and at different levels, as appropriate.

The NAP process is an opportunity for countries to address their medium and long-term adaptation needs, building on the experiences of the NAPA process which focused on urgent and immediate adaptation needs.

Under this process, countries are expected to:

  • Advance from NAPA experiences and arrangements into comprehensive, longer-term planning for adaptation;
  • Consolidate overall adaptation activities and embark on a coherent and strategic adaptation approach;
  • Ensure continuity and learning in planning and implementing adaptation, and to communicate progress through iterative outputs;
  • Fully integrate adaptation into existing planning systems and to prioritize activities so as to prevent negative climate impacts on development;
  • Identify the level of climate risk which can be addressed given economic, social and ecological constraints;
  • Encourage the provision of adequate and predictable support which takes into account the comprehensive, continuous and iterative nature of the NAP process;
  • Create confidence in agencies to support a country owned, country driven process that requires action beyond the implementation of projects;
  • Contribute to learning about how to manage multiple stress factors that combine in complex ways across scales;
  • Promote streamlining of adaptation approaches under the Convention.

See the Theme page for further information on Articles, Case studies, Members and Contributing organisations working on National Adaptation Planning

NAPs contribution to NDCs

Many LDCs are formulating their NAPs whilst concurrently including adaptation components in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. On the other hand, some countries that are rather advanced in their NAP process do not mention it in their (I)NDC. There is a need for better coordination because these processes can be complementary and reinforcing. NDCs enable countries to share their adaptation goals, objectives, priorities and actions with the international community, while NAP processes provide a concrete means for successful achievement of these initiatives.

For further information on NAPs contribution to NDCs see:

See also the current list of NDC submissions published by the UNFCCC.

NAP approach

The NAP process:

  • Is not prescriptive. The guidelines for the process assist LDCs to undertake the steps and activities that can ensure effective adaptation. Based on their different levels of progress with adaptation thus far, countries are able to select which steps and activities to undertake in order to move forward;
  • Seeks to enhance the coherence of adaptation and development planning within countries, rather than duplicating efforts undertaken in a given country;
  • Facilitates country-owned, country-driven action. LDCs have full ownership of the NAP process within their countries. The NAP process seeks to harness and build upon national-level capacity, with support from various partners, as appropriate;
  • Is designed so that countries can monitor and review it on a regular bases, and update their NAPs in an iterative manner. This is important, given that better quality climate data and projections, as well as other information useful for the planning process, will increasingly become available, and the impacts of climate change in the medium and long-term will be better understood.

The planning and implementation of adaptation is:

  • Based on nationally-identified priorities, including those reflected in the relevant national documents, plans and strategies. Again, this refers to the country-driven nature of the NAP process. The process is designed so that the NAP process can be integrated into the national plans priorities as appropriate;
  • Coordinated with national sustainable development objectives, plans, policies and programmes. Coordination and coherence are important elements of the NAP process.

UNFCCC resources

NAP technical guidelines

UNFCCC list of submitted NAPS and sectoral plans

By mid-2020 there were 20 country submissions on the UNFCCC NAPS portal. In addition the links below provide some case studies about important NAP processes in selected countries.

Case Studies on weADAPT

Other initiatives

The NAP Global Network works with developing countries to advance their NAP processes

Open NAPs being developed through an open collaboration involving a wide range of actors, moderated by the UNFCCC’s LDC Expert Group (LEG)

FAO’s NAP-Ag programme on integrating agriculture into National Adaptation Plans

Recommended reading

Other relevant literature

Related resources

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