The Sharm el Sheikh Adaptation Agenda: Catalysing collaborative action towards a resilient future

Resilience experts and members of Race to Resilience's MAG advisory group, Anand Patwardhan, Emilie Beauchamp, Ana Maria Lobo-Guerrero, and Paulina Aldunce, underline the transformative impact of the Sharm El Sheikh Adaptation Agenda in driving collaboration and fast-tracking action to bridge the adaptation gap and support the world’s most vulnerable communities.  By Climate Champions | June 9, 2023

Co-created by the COP27 Presidency, High-Level Champions, and the Marrakech Partnership, the Sharm el Sheikh Adaptation Agenda (SAA) represents a new chapter in climate adaptation dedicated to bridging the adaptation gap and bolstering the world’s most vulnerable communities.

The SAA diverges from broad-stroke climate initiatives, focusing instead on producing concrete outcomes in key sectors. This measurable approach has been welcomed across the board. Anand Patwardhan, Co-chair of the Adaptation Research Alliance and Race to Resilience MAG-Co-Lead, states, “By defining and advocating measurable and concrete outcomes in key sectors and systems, the SAA will help formalise how resilience could be enhanced and could contribute to the wellbeing of vulnerable households and communities. The inclusion of outcomes related to knowledge, planning and finance in the SAA is particularly welcome as these are key cross-cutting enablers of adaptation action, where collective action can yield important dividends.”

Catalysing action through evidence 

Despite escalating adaptation ambitions, progress has been slow. Emilie Beauchamp, Lead, MEL for Adaptation to Climate Change at the International Institute for Sustainable Development and Race to Resilience MAG-Co-Lead, recognises this challenge and views the third Global Stocktake (GST)’s Technical Dialogue as a crucial catalyst.

“Over the past years, several reports, including the IPCC reports, the UNEP Gap Reports and the previous two GST Technical Dialogue reports have raised the alarm that despite the increasing adaptation ambitions, progress on the ground remains too slow to meet countries’ needs.” Beauchamp views the GST’s third Technical Dialogue as “the last window for all stakeholders to ensure that key messages on how to accelerate adaptation action will be included in the GST’s Consideration of Outputs phase at COP28.”

“At this important crossroad, the Race to Resilience (RtR) and its 36 partners initiatives, show how evidence on opportunities, solutions and good practices can pave the way ahead for a more resilient future. RtR highlights the role of non-state actors to not only further ratchet adaptation ambitions through the GST but also move from planning to implementing adaptation action,” she adds.

Redefining assessment with a focus on adaptation outcomes

Ana Maria Lobo-Guerrero, Research Director of Climate Action at the Alliance of Biodiversity International and CIAT and Race to Resilience MAG-CoLead, notes the SAA’s pioneering emphasis on adaptation outcomes. She observes, “The Sharm-El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda has adaptation outcomes at the core. This is relevant because while there are numerous methodologies and frameworks available to track adaptation, most have a narrow scope and fail to track effectiveness or outcomes. Instead, they focus on assessing enabling environments, counting actions, or establishing perfect indicators.”

“At the same time,” she adds, “there is inadequate evidence available in tracking adaptation outcomes. The scientific evidence on adaptation outcomes is scarce and limited to case studies. Global syntheses are not keeping up with the rapidly evolving field of adaptation, failing to capture information and lessons from the grey literature and unintended consequences of adaptation. Moreover, the world is struggling because of the insufficient capacity to track adaptation outcomes. While there are many capacity building materials around adaptation monitoring and evaluation, they are often unfit for the purpose of tracking. Specifically, they lack multiscale considerations, fail to provide sufficient guidance on indicator measurement and design of effective baselines, and have limited demonstrated applicability. A focus on adaptation outcomes and on addressing the above mentioned gaps through the implementation of the SAA can deeply contribute to achieve a resilient world.”

Bridging the adaptation gap with the GST

Paulina Aldunce, IPCC Lead Author and Strategic Lead for the Race to Resilience Technical Secretariat, offers valuable insights on how the SAA acts as a powerful tool in climate action. Emphasizing the urgency of the situation, she points to the scientific evidence from the IPCC, highlighting the necessity to act now and with greater ambition, as “any further delay in concerted global action will miss the brief, rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future”. She notes that the SAA’s “clear, specific and defined goals on how to progress on adaptation” contributes significantly towards filling the adaptation gap.

When it comes to how the SAA aligns with the GST’s objectives in assessing global progress, Aldunce believes that the SAA and the GST are complementary, with the GST taking stock of past actions and the SAA looking forward to augmenting ambition and defining the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA). In her words, “Both initiatives are crucial in helping to make more transparent and accountable the efforts that different actors are doing in adaptation and to communicate this to the world”.

Race to Resilience

Speaking of the role of NSAs in climate action, Aldunce brings attention to the RtR, saying, “Race to Resilience, under the auspices of the Climate Champions and the Marrakech Partnership, strives to articulate and accelerate NSAs climate engagement, and at the same time, provide it with transparency, credibility and accountability.” She states that the pioneering metrics developed by RtR for assessing the impact of resilience-building actions can serve as valuable input for the GST in taking stock of NSAs’ advancement in climate ambition.

Regarding the SAA’s support for the RtR campaign’s goal of making 4 billion vulnerable people more resilient by 2030, Aldunce emphasizes that the SAA “shows priorities and concrete pathways to accelerate climate action, across different impact systems.” Furthermore, she revealed that RtR has initiated a participatory work with its partners to discuss how the SAA can help further their ambition and guide their efforts towards achieving this lofty goal.

Impact Systems

Within the SAA, there are several specific actions and initiatives targeting different impact systems. These actions, as outlined by Aldunce, provide practical examples of how the Agenda is addressing climate challenges across various sectors:

  1. Food and Agriculture
    • Action: Agricultural, livestock, forestry, and aquacultural practices actions; Promotion and implementation of sustainable and resilient practices in these sectors by increasing small farmers’ capacity to regenerate soil health and soil carbon.
    • Partner: Agriculture 1.5
    • Beneficiaries: Companies and individuals (farmers)

The SAA aims to promote sustainable and resilient practices in the food and agriculture sector, such as crop diversification, agroforestry systems, and soil conservation. These actions include adopting efficient irrigation technologies, promoting agroecological practices, and implementing monitoring systems for fisheries to ensure sustainable resource management.

  • Water and Nature
    • Action: Water security and quality; Implementation of measures to ensure availability, quality, and access to water.
    • Partner: Sanitation and Water for All
    • Beneficiaries: Administrative governments, water and sanitation line ministries, research and learning institutions, and civil society (individuals at the intersection of high climate exposure and insufficient access to water and sanitation services)

The SAA focuses on ensuring water availability, quality, and access in the context of climate change. This includes measures for water resource management, storage and distribution infrastructure, and water treatment and purification technologies to safeguard water security for vulnerable communities.

  • Coastal and Oceans
    • Action: Conservation and restoration of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems; Protection and recovery of ecosystems to ensure their ability to provide ecosystem services and contribute to climate resilience.
    • Partner: Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR)
    • Beneficiaries: Natural systems, coral reef and associated ecosystems, companies, and individuals

The SAA recognizes the importance of protecting and restoring coastal and ocean ecosystems. This involves conservation efforts for forests, wetlands, coral reefs, and seagrasses, which are vital for providing ecosystem services and enhancing climate resilience. Actions may include reforestation, habitat rehabilitation, and sustainable management of natural resources.

  • Human Settlements
    • Action: Monitoring and mapping of hazards and vulnerabilities; Collection and analysis of geospatial and socioeconomic information to identify areas and populations that are most exposed to climate risks.
    • Partner: Human Cities Race to Resilience Coalition (CDP)
    • Beneficiaries: Cities, states, and regions

The SAA supports monitoring and mapping of climate risks to identify vulnerable areas and populations in human settlements. This involves collecting and analyzing geospatial and socioeconomic information to evaluate vulnerability factors such as economic capacity, available infrastructure, and social conditions. The results aid in decision-making and planning of adaptation and mitigation interventions.

  • Infrastructure
    • Action: Critical infrastructure and protective systems; Design, construction, and maintenance of critical infrastructure that is resilient to climate impacts.
    • Partner: International Coalition of Sustainable Infrastructure (ICSI)
    • Beneficiaries: Companies and individuals working with engineering firms, policymakers, and academia to advance sustainable and resilient infrastructure, providing water, energy, and digital connectivity, and protecting communities.

The SAA emphasizes the design, construction, and maintenance of climate-resilient critical infrastructure. This includes incorporating climate considerations into infrastructure planning, strengthening protective systems, and implementing measures to reduce the impacts of extreme climate events on critical infrastructure.

  1. Planning and Finance
    • Action: Livelihood diversification and social economy; Supporting the diversification of income sources and the promotion of sustainable and climate-resilient economic activities.
    • Partner: Global Fund for Coral Reefs
    • Beneficiaries: Local reef-positive businesses and enterprises with an impact on individuals and natural systems

The SAA supports the diversification of income sources and the promotion of sustainable economic activities. This involves initiatives like training in entrepreneurship, access to financing and technical assistance, and the promotion of local markets and sustainable value chains to enhance livelihoods and foster climate resilience.

An event is taking place at the Bonn Climate Change Conference (SB 58) on 12 June, where the SAA implementation Task Forces will be established, and a call for action will be issued across the climate arena. Read more here.

The event is open to the public and welcomes all participants of the Bonn SB 58. The format of the event is expected to be in-person discussions, with a possibility of hybrid arrangements to ensure broader accessibility.

Meeting room: Santiago de Chile at the WCCB in Bonn (SB58 venue), 13:00-15:00 CET

For more information about the event and expression of interest in joining the taskforces, contact: