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Evaluation of Development Cooperation Shows Pathways to More Effective Adaptation to the Climate Crisis

A new DEval evaluation shows that the effectiveness of German adaptation interventions should be improved and their funding optimised.

Satellitenbild eines tropischen Wirbelsturms
© Shutterstock/ Elena11

Bonn, 13. Juni 2023 – The world's poorest countries are being hit particularly hard by the climate crisis. That is why German development cooperation supports its partner countries in their efforts to adapt to climate change. A new evaluation by the German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval) shows that the effectiveness of German adaptation interventions should be improved and their funding optimised. Furthermore, high-climate-risk countries should be given more support. However, development cooperation itself must also adapt and take climate risks into account more systematically and more broadly in its interventions.

Funding should be more closely aligned with climate risks

Between 2011 and 2020, Germany's Federal Government spent over 17.5 billion US dollars on adaptation interventions. Although this means that the German Government has largely met its own financing targets, internationally the funding gap is widening and there is clear potential for an optimisation of German's adaptation financing. This applies above all to support for countries that are particularly impacted by climate change. Thus, one of the evaluation's recommendations is to align funding more closely with the climate risks to which the partner countries are exposed.

Adaptation interventions must be made more effective

Effective adaptation interventions are needed to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change. There is a wide range of interventions that can be taken to adapt to climate change: they include the construction of dykes, restoring rivers, the use of drought-resistant seeds, taking out climate-risk insurance or setting up early-warning systems for natural disasters. However, the effectiveness of most of these interventions cannot yet be confirmed. “Nature-based solutions, like the restoration of mangrove forests or wetlands, and infrastructure interventions, like the construction of dams or irrigation systems, are exceptions here; they are largely successful in dealing with climate risks”, says Dr Martin Noltze, the team leader of the evaluation. Therefore, one of the evaluation's recommendations is a greater focus on promoting such interventions in the future. However, even highly effective adaptation interventions cannot fully offset the consequences of climate change, as shown by the current discussion on climate-related losses and damages.”

Climate mainstreaming should be effectively implemented

In order to support partner countries in adapting to climate change, all forms of development cooperation should take climate risks into account systematically. This systematic consideration of climate risks is called “climate mainstreaming”. However, the evaluation shows that essential safeguards for climate mainstreaming have not been applied at any stage – neither in the assessment, nor in the planning, nor in the implementation of interventions. The evaluation therefore recommends effectively implementing the mainstreaming of climate change adaptation.

Underlying data

The evaluation examined the adaptation-relevant official development assistance (ODA) as well as the interventions related to adaptation that were commissioned by the German Federal Government from 2011 to 2021. One focus of the evaluation is the sectors of agriculture, water and environmental protection. The research used a combination of portfolio analyses, literature reviews and case studies.  

The 'Evaluation of Interventions for Climate Change Adaptation' is a modular evaluation. The two current reports – 'Synthesis Report, 2023' and 'Agriculture, Water, Environmental Protection, Nationally Determined Contributions and National Adaptation Plans, 2023' – are available on the DEval website.


Portrait von Dr. Sven Harten
© DEval

Dr Sven Harten

Head of Competence Centre for Evaluation Methodology / Deputy Director

Phone: +49 (0)228 336907-950

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Portrait von Ida Seljeskog
© DEval

Ida Seljeskog

Online Editor and PR Manager

Phone: +49 (0)228 336907-981

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