Twenty-five years of adaptation finance through a climate justice lens

This article is part of a Special Issue, “Climate Finance Justice: International Perspectives on Climate Policy, Social Justice, and Capital,” edited by Lauren Gifford and Chris Knudson

How much finance should be provided to support climate change adaptation and by whom? How should it be allocated, and on what basis? Over the years, various actors have expressed different normative expectations on climate finance. Which of these expectations are being met and which are not; why, and with what consequences? Have new norms and rules emerged, which remain contested? This article takes stock of the first 25+ years of adaptation finance under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and seeks to understand whether adaptation finance has become more justly governed and delivered over the past quarter century. We distinguish among three “eras” of adaptation finance: (1) the early years under the UNFCCC (1992–2008); (2) the Copenhagen shift (2009–2015); and (3) the post-Paris era (2016–2018). For each era, we systematically review the justice issues raised by evolving expectations and rules over the provision, distribution, and governance of adaptation finance. We conclude by outlining future perspectives for adaptation finance and their implications for climate justice.

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Mizan Khan, Stacy-ann Robinson, Romain Weikmans, David Ciplet, J. Timmons Roberts