The Adaptation Research Alliance: a new global partnership for action-orientated adaptation and resilience research

As part of the UK COP26 Presidency Adaptation & Resilience campaign, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is working with partners to co-develop an international Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA) for launch at COP26. 

Climate change is already having an impact, particularly in developing countries and on vulnerable groups. There is an urgent need for coordinated global efforts to adapt and provide evidence-based climate adaptation solutions. At present, the global research community is not sufficiently mobilised and connected to those on the front lines — governments, communities and marginalised people. As a result, the demand far outstrips the supply of actionable information and practical solutions. This imbalance is what the Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA) seeks to address as a matter of priority, particularly for the most vulnerable.

At the Gobeshona conference session introducing the ARA, Ms Sheela Patel (Director, Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC)), said: “There is potential for a new architecture of research to be done in which communities, professional NGO’s that work with them, researchers from the North and South, develop a new circle of partnerships that begin to address what has not worked from a perspective of developing a new paradigm through which the policy framework can be changed.” 


What is the ARA? 

The ARA is an international coalition across the adaptation research and action communities, bringing together researchers and both traditional ‘research funders’ and ‘action funders’, to catalyse and scale investment in action-orientated research driven by user needs. The ARA will, through targeted advocacy, creative cooperation and scaled resource delivery, ensure that the most pressing knowledge needs for adaptation and resilience actions are effectively addressed. For example, the Future Resilience for African Cities And Lands (FRACTAL) project under the Future Climate For Africa (FCFA) programme included researchers, engineers, government representatives, NGOs and other stakeholders in learning processes to better understand risks that will likely be exacerbated by climate change in southern African cities, particularly related to resource management and urban development. These learning processes also resulted in the co-production of relevant climate knowledge to support resilient development pathways. Local researchers and city officials in Gaborone, Botswana, developed Climate Risk Narratives, where climate information from the FRACTAL team informed plans and investments for the city.

Anand Patwardhan (Professor, University of Maryland and ARA Co-Chair Group) said: “We need to scale up the kind of research that gets out of the lab and into the field and works with local communities. This requires of course more funding, but equally important a change in the way research is done – to make it user-centred, and focused on solutions – cutting through some of the disciplinary and institutional barriers that often come in the way.” 

Three working groups and a Steering Board have been meeting since November to co-develop the initiative, including deciding on governance arrangements, membership and agreeing on priority activities in 2021. A theory of change has been developed for the ARA, setting out its intended outcomes and impacts.


Watch the ARA introductory film to find out more about action research, the need for an alliance & the plans for the ARA


How to join the ARA: 

The ARA was soft-launched at the Gobeshona conference in January 2021, where it released the Gobeshona Declaration, noting that 33 organisations from around the world have already declared their intent to co-develop the ARA. For organisations that would like to find out more or help to co-develop this international adaptation partnership, you can contact


Soft-launch of the ARA at the Gobeshona conference. Watch the session recording here.


For updates, follow the Adaptation Research Alliance on Twitter: @Adapt_Alliance and LinkedIN: Adaptation Research Alliance.