The report points to an increase in national laws and policies that address adaptation, with at least 162 countries explicitly addressing adaptation at national level, through 110 laws and 330 policies.
The report finds that current adaptation efforts are insufficient to minimize the future health impact of climate change, and identifies ways to narrow the adaptation gap, emphasizing the need for political will and financial resources to implement actions related to climate-resilient health systems.
6 December 2018: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment) has published the fourth edition of its ‘Adaptation Gap Report,’ which points to a significant gap between countries’ preparedness for climate change and measures required to prepare communities for increasing future climate risks. This year’s report focuses on human health.
The Adaptation Gap Report 2018 underscores the growing divide between annual estimated adaptation costs and actual global investments in resilience measures, and links climate adaptation and sustainable development and the SDGs.
Despite progress made in reducing climate change-related diseases and injuries, the report finds that current adaptation efforts are insufficient to minimize the future health impact of climate change, and that unless adaptation efforts are strengthened, heat and extreme event-related morbidity and mortality will continue to increase.
On a positive note, the report points to an increase in national laws and policies that address adaptation, with at least 162 countries explicitly addressing adaptation at national level through 110 laws and 330 policies. However, only 40 developing countries have adaptation targets in their current nationally determined contributions (NDCs), and 49 developing countries include targets in their national laws and policies. Without accelerated action, according to the report, it could take decades for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to catch up with wealthier countries and bridge the gap in adaptive capacity.
Weaker health system performance as a result of climate change will inhibit progress on SDG 3.
More specifically, the report outlines gaps that exist in areas critical to taking stock of and assessing progress on adaptation, namely enabling environments, development aspects of adaptive capacity, and costs of and finance needed for adaptation. It also addresses the adaptation gap in the health sector, and key areas of climate-related health risks, namely heat and extreme events, climate-sensitive infectious diseases, and food and nutritional security.
The report addresses the impacts of climate change on agricultural yields, pests, price and food supplies, which are projected to have significant implications for sustainable development, inequality, poverty eradication and achievement of the SDGs. For example, it emphasizes that weaker health system performance as a result of climate change will lead to higher childhood mortality associated with illnesses, such as diarrheal disease and undernutrition, and inhibit progress on SDG 3 (good health and well-being). The report also explains that climate change threatens, and could even reverse, progress on SDG 2 (zero hunger), including targets related to food security and nutrition of children under five.
The Adaptation Gap Report identifies ways to narrow the adaptation gap, emphasizing the need for: political will and financial resources to implement actions related to climate-resilient health systems; early warning systems; and a broader development agenda aimed at reducing vulnerability to climate-sensitive health risks.
Since 2014, the Adaptation Gap Reports have focused on exploring adaptation gaps. They are now also focused on providing policy-relevant information to support efforts to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. The Adaptation Gap Report 2018 was launched during the Katowice Climate Change Conference convening in Poland from 2-14 December 2018. [Publication: Adaptation Gap Report: Health] [Executive Summary] [Publication Landing Page] [UNEP Press Release]