Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda reveals progress by state and non-state actors on adaptation and resilience across key systems

By Climate Champions | December 3, 2023

While acknowledging the challenges ahead, the Sharm El Sheikh Action Agenda’s (SAA) first Implementation Report, launched today at COP28, reveals positive signals of progress across key systems. Combined, they underscore a collective resolve to ramp implementation of adaptation solutions, enhance planning to mitigate climate risks, and close the adaptation finance gap.

All state and non-state actors have a critical role to play: finance and private sectors to enable risk reduction and management and mobilize adaptation finance; local and subnational governments to localize adaptation action and ensure system transformations; and particularly local farmers, local fishers, local communities, women and social innovators who are the local changemakers that need to be involved in the co-design and implementation of climate action to ensure it is truly effective, locally-relevant and equitable.

Key findings include:

Food & Agriculture 

Multiple coalitions, including the Climate Resilient Food Systems Alliance (CRFS), Resilient Local Food Supply Chain Alliance (RLFSC), and the Humanitarian, Development, and Peace Nexus Coalition (HDP Nexus Coalition), were launched under the UN Food Systems Summit process. These coalitions champion climate-resilient food systems, uniting over 90 actors committed to addressing climate risks and enhancing capacities.

The COP28 Presidency has recognized the significance of food systems by prioritizing them for the first time, with plans to launch a leaders’ statement. The UN Climate Change High-Level Champions (HLCs) are collaborating with a range of Non-State Actors – including farmers and other frontline food systems actors, Indigenous Peoples, youth, cities, consumers, civil society, businesses, financial institutions, philanthropy, and others – to launch a Non-State Actors Call to Action for Transforming Food Systems for People, Nature, and Climate. This marks a pivotal moment, signifying global acknowledgment of the critical role food systems play in climate mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage.

In parallel, smallholder farmers worldwide are taking significant steps to adapt to climate change, investing an astounding US$368 billion annually from their own income.

Coastal and marine 

Coastal and marine systems have witnessed substantial progress, with the adoption of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) gaining recognition in policy and planning. Approximately 100 new or updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) now include mentions of coastal and marine NbS, highlighting the growing global commitment to safeguarding these vital ecosystems.

Efforts to translate knowledge into action have borne fruit, with mechanisms such as knowledge hubs and global frameworks like the Nairobi Work Programme facilitating the process. Engagement from countries on coastal and marine NbS has increased, exemplified by the Ocean and Climate Change Dialogue at the Bonn Climate Change Conference 2023.

Key initiatives like the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA) are mobilizing substantial investments into coastal and marine natural capital, benefitting over 121,000 people as of 2023.

The ocean community, united under the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action on Ocean & Coastal Zones, has designed a set of ocean pathways to drive the transition towards a resilient and net zero world, and further anchor the ocean in climate and biodiversity negotiations. This set of pathways – known as the “Ocean Breakthroughs” – are framed as tipping points to be reached by 2030, in order to deliver on the 2050 vision of the ocean designed by the Ocean for Climate Declaration.

We have also launched the Coral Reef Breakthrough which aims to help secure the future of at least 125,000 km2 of shallow-water tropical coral reefs. If we secure an investment of over US$12 billion, our objective is to strengthen the resilience of over half a billion people globally by 2030, ensuring they continue to benefit from these vital marine strongholds.

Lastly,  the Mangrove Breakthrough is catalyzing further action with the Financial Roadmap. If we achieve this we estimate a climate benefit of sequestering over 43.5 million tonnes of CO2 into mangrove biomass and safeguarding or sequestering an additional 189 million tonnes of CO2 in the soil. Restoring half of recently lost mangroves would potentially benefit 37 commercial marine species of fish, crabs, bivalves and shrimp by providing habitat for over 25 billion juveniles each year. And the coastal protection provided by mangroves against flooding and storms – securing lives, infrastructure and economic security – has been estimated to reduce flood risk for over 15 million people and over $65 billion worth of property annually.

Water & Nature

Water and nature systems have gained prominence as foundational elements for climate resilience. Many countries have included nature in their NDCs and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), reflecting the recognition of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) as critical climate solutions.

Progress has been made in setting standards and guidance, with the universal definition of NbS adopted at UNEA 2022. Protection of lands and inland waters has advanced, with 210 million hectares pledged for restoration across 60 countries.

Initiatives like the Freshwater Challenge and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration are driving progress in water and nature outcomes, creating a path toward a more resilient future.


The nexus between climate change and health has gained recognition, with a dedicated Health thematic day at COP28. Health representation in NDCs has increased, showcasing the growing commitment to building Climate Resilient Low Carbon Sustainable Health Systems.

Key initiatives like the Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate and Health (ATACH) are providing critical support to implement COP26 health commitments. The World Health Organization and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are spearheading the SAA Task Force with four new SAA Health adaptation outcomes focusing on finance, surveillance systems, heat resilience, and health infrastructure and facilities set to further strengthen climate resilience in the health system.

Human Settlements

Subnational advancements in planning and policy for climate adaptation and resilience have gained momentum. Cities and governments are now recognized as key players in achieving global climate action goals. Efforts to address housing inadequacy and provide safe housing for 1 billion people by 2030 are underway, with initiatives like the Roof Over Our Heads (ROOH) and the Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance (EHRA) leading the way.

The Early Warnings For All Initiative (EW4All) aims to provide early warnings across sectors and systems, enhancing preparedness and resilience. National governments are increasingly allocating funds for Nature-based Solutions (NBS) in cities, heralding a shift towards more sustainable urban development.

An Urban Water Resilience working group is now housed under the SAA to further catalyze state and non-state actors adaptation implementation, mobilize finance and enhance capacity by sharing lessons learned.


Infrastructure resilience has gained recognition as an essential solution for adaptation and resilience across various sectors. The Maritime Breakthroughs, launched at COP27, provide a consolidated action agenda to future-proof the maritime shipping sector.

Initiatives like the Low Carbon Transport for Urban Sustainability initiative are driving progress in the transport sector. Efforts to ensure electricity access and funding for clean cooking are paying off, promoting both mitigation and adaptation.

Planning & Policy

The year 2023 marked a turning point for global policy frameworks, with advancements in the Global Goal on Adaptation, First Global Stocktake, and the midpoint review of the Sendai Framework. Countries are increasingly integrating adaptation components into their NDCs and policies, reflecting a commitment to building resilience.

The private sector has evolved positively, with standards boards and setters clarifying methods, tools, and approaches to disclose climate risks and impacts and A&R strategies. Cross-sector alliances of academia, funders, researchers, communities, and companies are in motion to expand adaptation research, and data and analytics on climate risks are being advanced.


Global adaptation finance grew 37 percent to US$63 billion in 2021/22 versus 2019/20. However, this still falls short of increasing adaptation needs and costs amounting to US$215-387 billion annually in developing countries alone, widening the adaptation finance gap.

The volume of public finance for adaptation has increased, but this only represents 10 percent of total public climate finance with the majority flowing to mitigation. This is not in line with the Paris Agreement call for a balanced allocation between mitigation and adaptation. In particular, international public climate finance directed to developing countries declined 15 percent from 2020 to 2021, placing the world farther away from meeting the COP26 call for doubling of adaptation finance from developed to developing countries, to around US$40 billion annually by 2025.

The financial system has the potential to drive transformational change towards climate resilient countries, communities, businesses, and natural ecosystems. A growing number of insurers, banks and investors worldwide increasingly recognize the risks of inaction and the emerging opportunities related to adaptation and resilience. Private financial institutions today are investing into adaptation and resilience and implementing  the necessary financial instruments, frameworks, and metrics. Yet action is incremental and requires the development of further enabling conditions for the nascent adaptation and resilience market.

To revert this trend, the SAA is actively convening finance and private sectors to prove that financing adaptation is commercially viable and is bringing forward a Call for Collaboration.

Read the report