Financing Adaptation to Climate Change in the Global South. Investigating a Fair and Practical Distribution of Scarce Resources 

Climate change impacts all regions of the world, but its consequences are particularly pronounced in areas inhabited by those who have contributed the least to climate change. At the same time, these regions often lack the resources to adapt to climatic changes. In response, the international community has pledged extensive finance to the so-called Global South to support local, regional and national adaptation measures. However, the funds currently provided are far below what is needed, and with the projected increase of climate change, adaptation costs are expected to rise dramatically. Moreover, a North-South transfer of resources alone is not sufficient to achieve successful adaptation; the money must also be distributed and used effectively. 

COP 21 conference 2015

But how should the available funds be distributed so that adaptation can succeed? Who has the greatest claim to the funds and what constitutes a fair distribution in the face of great scarcity and diverse climatic hazards? The adjust project addresses these questions via five work packages (WP). WP1 examines how funds for adaptation to climate change are currently distributed. Through interviews with relevant actors, it aims to uncover the rationales underlying funding decisions of bi- and multilateral donors, as well as governments of recipient countries. WP2 identifies what characterizes a fair distribution of adaptation finance. To do so, it relates theories of procedural and distributive justice to processes and criteria that play a role, or are proposed to be used, in the financing of adaptation. 

Two further WPs take a closer look at specific distributional criteria; vulnerability and democracy. WP3 uses the example of sea level rise in Seychelles to determine whether and how vulnerability can be meaningfully “measured” or operationalized in a regional, sector-specific context. WP4 in turn examines whether and how the extent of democratic government in countries of the Global South should be taken into account in the distribution of adaptation funds. WP5 synthesizes the findings from WP1–4, identifies key elements characterizing a fair and practical distribution, and develops suggestions on how current allocation practices can be improved (see the overview below).

adjust research design

The research takes account of the wide range of experiences and lessons learned in development cooperation regarding North-South transfers. Likewise, it considers discourses and practices from other fields in which the justified prioritization of claims has already been tested and theorized, such as the distribution of scarce goods in health care. 

Adjust is an inter- and transdisciplinary research project carried out in close cooperation with various partners. Prof. Carola Klöck from Sciences Po in Paris and Prof. Athanasios Vafeidis from Kiel University are responsible for WP1 (Klöck) and WP3 (Vafeidis) respectively. WP1 is furthermore supported by The German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval) in Bonn and Prof. Christian Martin from Kiel University, while WP3 collaborates by the Seychelles Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, the NGO Sustainability for Seychelles (S4S) and PD. Dr. Jochen Hinkel from the Global Climate Forum in Berlin. Adjust also works with Prof. Anna Lührmann from the University of Gothenburg in AP4 and benefits from the multifaceted expertise of the international think tank Climate Analytics.