International efforts to address climate change tend to focus on mitigation — the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Another response is adapting to the unavoidable impacts caused by past emissions. Yet adaptation plays a minor role in UN climate negotiations — this report argues that it must be considered on an equal footing with mitigation.

After an introduction to the history of adaptation, the report outlines key policy issues and summarises international adaptation efforts to date. It proposes three potentially complementary approaches to future international efforts on adaptation; using the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to enforce adaptation, integrating adaptation with development and providing climate 'insurance'.

It asks how adaptation can be given greater attention internationally. Its premise is that adaptation requires a concerted effort that benefits from international cooperation. But this is a contested notion.