Climate adaptation: Why local governments cannot do it alone

12 March 2024 Research and Analysis
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

While the effects of climate change are experienced globally, climate risks and impacts felt at the local level can vary from place to place, based on geographic and biophysical characteristics of the area. Local governments, with their firsthand experience of climate impacts, are well-placed to address climate change effects by tailoring solutions to local needs. Nonetheless,  their adaptation needs often exceed local planning, technical and fiscal capacities. Cooperation is therefore necessary across levels of government to foster climate change adaptation at the local level.

This publication advocates for joint responsibility and collaboration between the local and national levels in addressing climate adaptation needs. National governments can:

  • Build an enabling environment through national policies, legislation, and fiscal frameworks, including policies and actions that harness the efforts of local communities.

  • Provide technical capacity support, including downscaled climate risk information and expertise on technology and innovation that is too specialized and costly to develop at the local level.

  • Develop fiscal systems, including grants and subsidies, to enable local determination of investments in adaptation.

  • Ensure a coordinated approach.

  • Involve local authorities in the national adaptation planning processes.

  • Establish platforms to foster collaboration between and among national and local agencies in adaptation.