As a least developed country striving to climb the development ladder, Malawi recognizes that climate change poses a significant threat to its economic growth trajectory, as well as its achievement of sustainable development goals. Malawi’s government was committed to building adaptive capacity in the country and to putting Malawi on a more resilient pathway, despite the likely consequences of future climate change. To this end, it embarked on the development of a National Adaptation Plan (NAP), a critical document under the UNFCCC regime. A pivotal step in the development of a NAP is a stocktaking assessment of what capacity already exists in the country, and what level of climate science information and data exists to inform adaptation activities.
Malawi’s national development path, intended to move it from Least Developed Country (LDC) status to a developing country, requires affirmative and strategic integration of climate change adaptation into planning and institutional architecture, as well as technical and financial capacity for the government to make the country resilient to shocks and stressors. The first step to understanding where to invest resources to achieve these goals is to understand where current gaps exist. Our stocktaking assessment uncovered both explicit and hidden gaps and needs in Malawi in the context of climate change adaptation, and mapped out high-impact opportunities for the country to fill the gaps. It challenged conventional wisdom in Malawi about the need for more robust climate change science and data, and alerted the government that the focus moving forward needs to be on longer term interventions, as well as a coordination mechanism that would identify synergies in ongoing and planned projects.