Even if a comprehensive framework for stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations were adopted tomorrow, human-caused warming and sea-level increases would still continue for centuries, and a global strategy for adaptation would still be essential. Such a strategy needs above all to be founded on principles of sustainable development and meeting the needs of developing countries — especially small island developing States and least developed countries. They are the ones with the most to lose from climate change and the least capacity to adapt to its effects, despite having contributed the least to causing the problem in the first place.
Work on adaptation is seldom accomplished through stand-alone efforts that are separate from other policy areas. On the contrary, effective national adaptation strategies must be integrated into countries’ economic, social and governance systems and firmly embedded in domestic policy planning across the board. Many developing countries are already initiating the development of their own national adaptation programmes and action plans. Regional cooperation is becoming increasingly important, given the extent to which climate change will ignore national borders.