National Adaptation Plans (NAPs)

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“National Adaptation Plans” (NAPs) are developed by parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Work on them began in 2010 at COP16 in Cancun as part of a diplomatic process known as the Cancun Adaptation Framework. This process aims to support the least developed countries (LDCs) in their medium- to long-term planning for adapting to climate impacts. The NAP process has two main goals

  1. “To reduce vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, by building adaptive capacity and resilience”; and 
  2. “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.” 

As of September 22, 2023, 48 countries have submitted NAPs to the UNFCCC that reflect their country-specific priorities. Burkina Faso’s NAP from 2015, for example, includes goals to secure sustainable food security and preserve water resources while improving access to sanitation. Kenya’s 2017 NAP links approaches to economic growth with resilient ecosystems and sustainable livelihoods. 


While NAPs offer opportunities to build resilience, their development, implementation, and monitoring can be resource intensive. Moreover, there is a risk that the plans may deepen inequalities, particularly if they do not consider all affected population groups. Policymakers must therefore ensure that NAPs support as many people as possible while considering the needs of minorities. Furthermore, political barriers, competing priorities, and limited institutional capacities can affect if and how they are implemented. Nonetheless, the integration of climate adaptation into national measures and programs can be an important tool for dealing with climate impacts.