In climate policy and financing, the goals of adaptation (helping communities and ecosystems adapt to the effects of climate change) and mitigation (reducing carbon emissions and increasing carbon sinks) are often separate. This is because “adaptation and mitigation are driven by different interests and political economies, with distinct international donors and national institutions. These differences are reﬂected in the guidelines and requirements that climate change project developers have to follow” [Kongsager 2019: 279].
This present study, however, found that many climate change projects do or could address adaptation and mitigation jointly.
PDDs [Project Design Documents] integrating adaptation and mitigation shared several common features. They recognized ecosystems as providers of multiple services for both mitigation (carbon) and adaptation (watershed protection, forest products for livelihood diversiﬁcation or safety nets, mangrove protection against storms and waves, microclimate regulation in agricultural ﬁelds) [Kongsager 2019: 278].
Ninety percent of mitigation projects mentioned adaptation goals while 30% of adaptation projects had mitigation goals. The authors speculate on the reason for this discrepancy:
There appears to be an intrinsic value in integrating adaptation into mitigation projects even without incentives provided by funders, because of reduced climatic risks and increased sustainability, as mentioned by a few project developers … By contrast, there is no clear rationale for a project developer to integrate mitigation into adaptation projects, beyond the perspective of receiving additional support from mitigation funding by selling carbon credits [Kongsager 2019: 279].
The authors recommend adjusting the institutional framework to encourage deeper, better coordinated integration of mitigation and adaptation goals into climate-related projects.
With a synergetic approach, AFOLU [agriculture, forests, and other land use] projects would be designed to combine adaptation and mitigation in a way that project components interact with each other to generate additional climate beneﬁts compared to projects in which adaptation and mitigation are separated. Mainstreaming climate compatible development (i.e., adaptation, mitigation, and development) may avoid that projects respond to adaptation and mitigation urgencies separately. Scarce resources could be more efﬁciently spent, for instance, by not establishing separate institutions and processes to support adaptation and mitigation, and by avoiding conﬂicting policies, because a current major challenge in integrating adaptation and mitigation is the institutional complexity [Kongsager 2019: 279].