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Is adaptation to climate change reducing vulnerability for the poorest?: The NAPAs, adaptive capacity and capability in Cambodia
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Water and Environmental Studies. Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research . Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2009 (English)In: Climate Change, Power and Poverty Conference, Uppsala, October 14th, 2009, 2009Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

National adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs) provide a process for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to identify priority activities that respond to their urgent and immediate needs to adapt to climate change - those for which further delay would increase vulnerability and/or costs at a later stage.

This is the reasoning behind UNFCCC’s development of the NAPAs as one means of responding to climate changes in the LDCs. However how will this work in practice?

The goals and objectives of the NAPAs are:                  

  • to lay out a plan of action about how to build capacity to adapt to climate change and how to enhance coping strategies to adverse impacts of climate and climate change
  • it is not an obligation –it is an opportunity for those that have urgent needs
  • to including major stakeholder groups, and to be coupled to national development plans and activities
  • NAPA is a bottoms-up approach, designed to build enable communities of stakeholders in countries to have an active role in enhancing their adaptive capacity
  • An important characteristic of NAPAs is the emphasis on rural communities, and the use of traditional knowledge about coping strategies, and the need for the process to be bottoms-up so it can capture most important vulnerabilities of stakeholders
    • The NAPA would thus be a concise document that would communicate those urgent needs that a country may have, and a ranked list of actions to address these needs, including project briefs.
    • While the process will be comprehensive to arrive at the NAPA, the final product should be a concise and well justified list of actions and projects to address priority vulnerabilities for the country, or at least to build the capacity to address those vulnerabilities

This study examines how NAPAs are implemented in LDCs and whose vulnerability they aim at reducing. In short – Does NAPAs reduce vulnerability and for whom? In the discussion of adaptation Eriksen and O’Brien (2007)[1] argue that in order to reduce vulnerability to climate changes through poverty reduction measures and adaptation polices they should: (i) reduce risks (also the biogeophysical) that are linked to climate changes so that people can secure their livelihoods and well-being; (ii) increase the adaptive capacity among the poor;, and (iii) limit the processes that drives and creates vulnerability and that also complicates and hinder sustainable development. Policies and adaptation measures should thus focus on the areas where poverty and vulnerability to climate change overlaps to create ‘Sustainable adaptation’.

Cambodia has come quite far in their NAPA process, it is a country that still is recovering from genocide, war and violent conflicts, natural hazards has turned into disasters, a great share of the population suffers from poverty and corruption is a major obstacle to many development goals. The study build on analysis of official documents and interviews with those who are responsible and involved in the NAPA process, ranging from the Ministries, donors and UN organizations, as well as with those who are to implement the projects, mainly NGOs, once approved.

The objective of this study is to further understand who will benefit from adaptation projects and how ‘sustainable’ is it? Do adaptation projects strengthen existing coping and adaptation strategies? Is there capacity and capability to implement NAPA projects in LDCs? One of the preliminary conclusion is that NAPAs might delay some urgent actions and several of the obstacles to adaptation present in developing countries might be barriers in LDC, in particular today’s capacity and capability to meet knowledge requirements and cross-sectoral issues. Also, in poor regions where food security and energy demands and vulnerabilities are critical a regional approach could be a more effective and sustainable way forward, rather than a national.


Eriksen, SH. and O’Brien, K. 2007. Vulnerability, poverty and the need for sustainable adaptation measures. Climate Policy 7(4): 37-352.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-51215OAI: diva2:273369
Available from: 2009-10-21 Created: 2009-10-21 Last updated: 2009-10-26

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