Adaptation : Public financial institutions (also) have a role to play – a study based on the french example

25 November 2021 - Climate Report - By : Vivian DEPOUES, PhD / Morgane NICOL

In this study, I4CE reviews the characteristics and areas of intervention of public financial institutions, which make them essential actors for adaptation. The study also reviews all of the Public Financial Institutions’ business lines to determine their levers for action.


In France, insured damages from natural disasters have already tripled since the 1980s to reach an average of 3.6 billion euros per year over the period 2016-2020 and costs linked to natural disasters could increase by a factor of 5 to 6 in some French departments between 2020 and 2050.


In many cases, we are not ready. Financial and human resources must be deployed to support adaptation to climate change in all regions. A significant number of climate change adaptation measures will rely on public intervention, in which Public Financial Institutions could play a role, and sometimes do already.


This study was primarily carried out to explore what this role might be in the French context. However, the challenge does not only relate to France, and Public Financial Institutions are a type of actor present in many countries, which share certain objectives and modes of action (Plihon and Rigot 2021).




Public Financial Institutions (PFIs), together with other public actors, have a particular responsibility to challenge and support local actors and to take climate change into account in financial models to support territorial adaptation:


Challenges are in line with their mandate: adaptation is highly relevant to the areas in which they operate and their strategic objectives.

Historic role in accompanying major transformations and a proactive capacity.

Assets to boost financing for adaptation and drive private funding towards more adapted models:
– Financial capacity;
– Appropriate time horizons;
– Genuine expertise to apply to quality projects.

Ability to combine public interest with the approach of a responsible financial actor with risk management expertise.

Strategic interest in listening to the emerging demands of their clients and their environment (peers, regulators, etc.).


Cliquez sur ce bouton pour voir l’image




Due to their characteristics and intervention areas, PFIs must play a proactive role in adaptation. All PFI departments have levers to accelerate adaptation.


Cliquez sur ce bouton pour voir l’image


To contribute effectively to the challenge, PFIs will have to organise themselves, increase the skills of their teams on climate change adaptation, equip themselves with tools, and coordinate with each other and with other financial and technical assistance actors in territories.


Of course, PFIs will be unable to meet all adaptation needs singlehandedly. Their action would be more effective and coherent if they were part of a better defined and more ambitious public policy framework.


What role can financial institutions play in adaptation? Vivian Dépoues presents the main results of the study in two minutes :




Adaptation : Public financial institutions (also) have a role to play – a study based on the french example Download
I4CE Contacts
Senior Research Fellow – Adaptation and Local authorities Email
Morgane NICOL
Morgane NICOL
Local authorities Programme director – Local authorities, Adaptation, Public finance Email
To learn more
  • 09/29/2023 Foreword of the week
    Adaptation: plotting pathways is the next essential step

    As stated by the European Commission there is a “lack of preparedness and [a] disproportion between the climate threats and response mechanisms and structures in place”. One of the key factors in speeding up the implementation of adaptation actions will be the definition, in particular by public authorities, of « clear adaptation pathways setting up the process of how to achieve them through the sequence of options and actions ». The cost of these trajectories will also need to be quantified, to ensure that the human and financial resources are available for implementation.  For the time being, this work of defining adaptation trajectories is generally lacking, whatever the sector or scale. And the means to be deployed for adaptation are therefore unknown.

  • 07/06/2023 Blog post
    Adaptation: putting the reference trajectory into law

    The French decision to define a reference warming trajectory for adaptation to climate change (TRACC) is good news. There is an urgent need for public and private actors to examine the resilience of their investments and activities in a changing climate, including if the target of limiting global warming to below +2°C – a target that must remain a priority – is not met. Going beyond its inclusion in the PNACC (French national climate change adaptation plan) will nevertheless be essential to ensure actors rapidly take up this trajectory and to prevent a single euro more being spent on assets that are not adapted to climate change. The cross-cutting and normative scope of the TRACC now needs to be guaranteed by making it an inter-ministerial issue and putting it into legislation, then progressively tailoring the implementation requirements to the different actors and sectors concerned.

  • 03/24/2023 Foreword of the week
    International Day of Forests: carbon certification, adaptation and carbon sink

    This week, for the International Day of Forests, I4CE offers you an overview of the forestry issues that are being debated in France and in Brussels. In our newsletter, you will discover a new blog post by Julia Grimault on European carbon certification and our latest analyses on the adaptation of French forests to climate change, the French carbon sink and the wood industry. 

See all publications
Press contact Amélie FRITZ Head of Communication and press relations Email
Subscribe to our mailing list :
I register !
Subscribe to our newsletter
Once a week, receive all the information on climate economics
I register !