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The NAP Process and Peacebuilding

Woman carrying a basket in the desert.


For states struggling to prevent, mitigate or recover from conflict and fragility, the road to stability and sustainability is fraught with challenges. There are immediate needs that must be urgently addressed: ensuring security, relieving suffering, delivering clean water, and restoring energy, health, education, and other public services. For governments, addressing these priorities is difficult at the best of times; doing so with limited resources, weakened capacities, and under the threat of violence is exponentially harder.

In these countries, it can be difficult to prioritize action to respond to climate change. However, it would be a mistake to neglect the medium- and long-term adaptation needs in these contexts. The National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process offers an important opportunity to align and integrate adaptation planning and peacebuilding processes.

This briefing note explores the importance and difficulties of bringing these two agendas together in contexts of fragility and instability, and highlights some of the countries that have already begun to integrate conflict considerations into their adaptation planning processes. Addressing and integrating these agendas will be especially vital for the sustainable development of fragile states and regions that are seeking to prevent, stop, or recover from conflict.

* Download the full text (see right-hand column) for more detail. A short overview of the briefing note is provided below.

Key Messages

  • For many fragile states, it can be difficult to prioritize action to respond to climate change. But considering medium- and long-term adaptation will be essential for the long-term sustainability of humanitarian and peacebuilding efforts, given the overlapping drivers of climate change and conflict vulnerability.
  • The NAP process offers an opportunity to align efforts in climate change adaptation and peacebuilding.
  • Support for climate change adaptation – when thoughtfully designed and implemented – can enhance the capacity of countries to cope and rebound from climate shocks and stresses. It can also help to address the root causes of conflict and strengthen the foundation upon which peace is built.
  • The NAP process offers an integrated approach to development and adaptation planning that is well-positioned to support the peacebuilding process.
  • Many of the 18 NAP documents submitted to the UNFCCC as of January 2020 have already incorporated peace and conflict dynamics to varying degrees.
  • Practitioners and policymakers working on climate and peacebuilding often work in siloes; but the alignment of their agendas and programming will be essential for the sustainable development of fragile states, given the mutually reinforcing crises of climate change and conflict.

Context Setting: Adaptation in fragile settings

For many fragile countries, climate vulnerabilities are among the highest in the world, a combination of their high sensitivity to climate risks, their economic reliance on climate-dependent sectors like agriculture, and their histories of weak governance, conflict and poverty, all of which undermine climate resilience. Table 1 illustrates the substantial overlap between those states deemed both among the most fragile and the most vulnerable to climate change and least prepared to adapt. Somalia provides an indicative example; it is the state ranked most vulnerable to climate change and is also the second most fragile.

Peacebuilding and the NAP Process

The NAP process offers governments, donors and other stakeholders a new approach to development in contexts of fragility. By integrating climate adaptation into a country’s medium- and long-term development plans in a participatory, country-owned and holistic manner, the NAP process can be designed in a way that addresses many of a country’s core and overlapping vulnerabilities to both conflict and climate change. The NAP process itself will not be able to address all of the drivers of conflict in a country; however, as an integrated approach to development and adaptation planning, it is well-positioned to support peacebuilding processes for a number of reasons:

  1. NAP process timelines are well-aligned with peacebuilding timelines.
  2. The NAP process takes a holistic approach to addressing vulnerability.
  3. The NAP process provides a platform for dialogue and trust-building among a diverse range of stakeholders.
  4. The NAP process has considerable political and financial momentum.

Suggested citation

Church, C. & Crawford, A. (2020). The NAP Process and Peacebuilding. Winnipeg, Canada: International Institute for Sustainable Development. Retrieved from

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