The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (2007) identifies Africa as “one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change and climate variability”, yet there has been a distinct lack of economic assessments of the costs of adapting to climate change impacts in Africa. The AdaptCost project has attempted to address this gap by investigating and building evidence of the costs of adaptation, and producing a range of estimates for adaptation costs in Africa, using different lines of evidence. In the process, countries have gained a better understanding of their adaptation investment requirements, and built a stronger basis for articulating their financing priorities and attracting capital. The results have also been used by policymakers and the international climate change community in the discussions on establishing a collective target for financing adaptation in Africa.
Estimates of the economic costs of adaptation require investigation of several sources of evidence. These range from case studies of projects and plans through to global scale assessments. The AdaptCost project investigated a number of such sources. These include the results of global economic models, estimates from investment and financial flow assessments, studies which report continental or national costs of adaptation for Africa, and sector and country studies. The study was primarily based on review, but also commissioned specific model runs (with integrated assessment models) as well as some new sector modelling assessments, notably for coastal zones.
Economic impacts of climate change are likely to be significantly higher in Africa than in other world regions. They could be significant in the short-term, with estimates that the costs could be equivalent to 1.5 - 3% of GDP each year by 2030 in Africa. The evidence analyzed in the AdaptCost project revealed a wide range of estimates for the amount of funding necessary for adaptation in Africa, with current (2010-2015) financing needs that range from $5-30 billion a year. These needs are likely to rise over time, with studies reporting a range from $20-60 billion a year by the period 2020-2030. The large differences between these figures are due to the different methods used.