“Climate adaptation requires stronger political leadership”

09.12.23 | News
man står står på väg med vatten till knäna
Thomas Traasdahl/Ritzau Scanpix
While progress to agree on a global framework for climate adaptation at the ongoing climate negotiations in Dubai is sluggish, Nordic co-operation is sharing its experiences of concrete, local measures to adapt towns, cities, and coastlines to withstand more extreme weather and other climate impacts.

As the effects of climate change worsen, we increasingly need to adapt our societies and make them more resilient to extreme weather such as drought, storms, and heavy rainfall. 

It is expected that a framework for climate adaptation and funding at a global level will be agreed at COP28, which is currently underway in Dubai.


From global to local

Around the world, local politicians and residents are trying to understand exactly how their communities will be affected and what climate adaptation means from an entirely local perspective.

Under the title “Mainstreaming adaptation at the local level, the role of national and regional authorities and Nordic co-operation” experts and politicians shared their experiences in the Nordic pavilion on 9 December. 

Flooding in Copenhagen

Adrian Lema is head of the Danish Meteorological Institute in Copenhagen, where flooding due to heavy rain is already a tangible effect of climate change. 

“Although the climate crisis affects different people in different places, it’s essential that we work together. The first steps involve making complex research results understandable and usable for your everyday small municipality. This is where we should be able to streamline our information,” says Adrian.

Researchers and locals working together

Finland has recently drafted a national plan for climate adaptation, which has resulted in more municipalities putting the issue on the political agenda. 

Anna Salminen of the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry talked about a successful local partnership between researchers and Sami reindeer keepers in the Sami climate council. 

In this partnership, Sami traditional knowledge of how the climate is affecting local conditions is combined with the latest scientific research. 

Solidarity perspective

Until recently, the youth climate movement has mainly pushed to reduce climate impacts, and has not been active in matters of climate adaptation. 

Finnur Ricart Andrason, chair of the Icelandic Young Environmentalists Association, says that now that the impact of climate change is clearly localised, the youth movement has realised just how important it is to talk about climate adaptation as well. 

But the perspective must be one of solidarity with those countries that are hardest hit.  

“Climate adaptation requires stronger political leadership. Although we have to adapt to climate change, we also have to continue to reduce emissions substantially. Restoring nature and wetlands is a good way of killing two birds with one stone, for want of a better phrase,” explains Finnur.

Nature-based solutions for climate and biodiversity

Nature-based solutions as a means to address both the climate and biodiversity crises are a priority within Nordic co-operation. 

If nature-based solutions are applied incorrectly, this can pose a risk to local communities. This was discussed by the Sami Council, researchers, and youth representatives on 9 December in the Nordic pavilion at COP28.

“It’s important to not look at nature-based solutions solely as climate measures, but also as a means to strengthen biodiversity,” says Ingibjørg Svala Jónsdóttir, Professor in Ecology at the University of Iceland.

Competition for funding at COP28

A new report shows that, globally, countries are slow when it comes to funding, planning, and implementing climate adaptation measures.

COP28 got off to a flying start with a decision on a fund for losses and damages. 

Henry Neufeldt, Head of Impact Assessment and Adaptation at the UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre, is concerned that progress in “losses and damages” means regression for funding climate adaptation measures.

“This would be an unfortunate outcome,” he said when he spoke in the Nordic pavilion.