Adaptation Planning for the National Estuary Program

This document describes five critical elements of adaptation planning, and provides examples of these elements and suggestions for additional resources. Any estuary in the National Estuary Program (NEP) should incorporate these elements in an adaptation plan to achieve recognition as a Climate Ready Estuary (CRE). While specifically developed for the NEPs, this document can be used as a resource for other coastal communities as a starting point for planning to adapt to climate change.

The five critical elements that an adaptation plan should include to earn Climare Ready Estuary (CRE) recognition are:

  • Assessment of vulnerability to climate change
  • Summary of considerations used to set priorities and select actions
  • Description of specific adaptation actions for implementation
  • Plan for communicating with stakeholders and decision makers
  • Plan for monitoring and evaluating results.

Fishery Management Responses to Climate Change in the North Pacific

In the North Pacific, warming trends, coupled with declining sea ice, raise concerns about the effects of climate change on fish populations and ecosystem dynamics. Scientists are only beginning to understand the potential feedback mechanisms that will affect everything from plankton populations to major commercial fish species distributions, yet fishery managers have a responsibility to prepare for and respond to changing fishing patterns and potential ecosystem effects. There are ways for fishery managers to be proactive while waiting for better information to unfold. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and the National Marine Fisheries Service have jurisdiction over offshore fisheries in Alaska, USA. Recently, the Council has undertaken risk-averse management actions, in light of uncertainty about the effects of warming trends (and loss of sea ice) and resulting changes to fishing activities in the North Pacific. The Council has assessed whether opportunities for unregulated fishing could result from changes in fish distribution, has closed the Arctic Ocean to all commercial fishing pending further research, and has established extensive area closures where fishing with bottom-trawl gear is prohibited to protect vulnerable crab habitat and to control the northern expansion of the trawl fleet into newly ice-free waters. In cases where linkages between climate variables and fish distributions can be identified, the Council is developing adaptive management measures to respond to varying distributions of fish and shellfish. Finally, the Council has also tried to re-examine existing information to gain a better understanding of climate and ecosystem effects on fishery management. The pilot Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Aleutian Islands maps interactions among climate factors and ecosystem components and suggests indicators for the Council to monitor.

Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Marine and Coastal Ecosystems

Climate change is already impacting the ability of marine and coastal ecosystems to provide food, income, protection, cultural identity, and recreation to coastal residents, especially vulnerable communities in tropical areas. These impacts will continue and increase over the short to medium term, even as the community of nations works to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. There is an urgent need to develop, implement, and fund ecosystem-based adaptation strategies in coasts and oceans as a central part of the global response to climate change. Coastal and marine ecosystem protection and restoration is the foundation for ecosystem-based adaptation, and strong and specific provisions for the development, implementation and funding coastal and marine ecosystem-based adaptation need be a central part of a Post-2012 Climate Agreement.

Adapting to Coastal Climate Change: A Guidebook for Development Planners

From the Background:

Adapting to Coastal Climate Change: A Guidebook for Development Planners provides a detailed treatment of climate concerns and adaptation options in coastal areas.  Developed in conjunction with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Guidebook is both a tool itself and a link to other resources valuable for assessing vulnerability, developing and implementing adaptation options, and integrating options into programs, plans, and projects at the national and local levels.This coastal adaptation Guidebook is a companion document to the V&A Manual and provides the practitioner with more detailed and sector-specific guidance for responding to climate variability and change impacts on coastal areas. The emphasis is on developing country contexts.The Guidebook’s primary goals are to:

  • Advance understanding of climate change impacts along coasts, vulnerability, and approaches for mainstreaming coastal adaptation measures into development policies, plans, and programs
  • Provide practical adaptation options for responding to the impacts of climate variability and change on the coast
  • Draw lessons from experience on how to overcome implementation barriers and utilize an adaptive management approach to coastal climate adaptation

Assessing Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity to Climate Risks: Methods for Investigation at Local and National Levels

Effective planning for climate change adaptation programming in developing countries requires a finegrained assessment of local vulnerabilities, practices and adaptation options and preferences. While global models can project climate impacts and estimate costs of expected investments, developing country decision-makers also require national assessments that take a bottom-up, pro-poor perspective, integrate across sectors, and reflect local stakeholders’ experiences and values, in order to determine appropriate climate responses. This paper outlines the methodological approach of the Social Component of the World Bank’s Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change study. The Social Component features both village-level investigations of vulnerability and adaptive capacity, and innovative Participatory Scenario Development approaches that lead diverse groups at local and national levels through structured discussions using GIS-based “visualization” tools to examine tradeoffs and preferences among adaptation activities and implementation mechanisms. This dynamic, multi-sectoral approach allows for real-time analysis, institutional learning and capacity development. The paper presents the research and learning approach of the study and offers emerging findings on policy and institutional questions surrounding adaptation arenas in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Ghana and Mozambique.

Enabling Adaptation: Priorities for Supporting the Rural Poor in a Changing Climate

The livelihoods of the rural poor are rooted in the productivity of ecosystems. Climate change, however, is already altering the functioning of these ecosystems in profound—and often negative—ways. Over 2 billion rural inhabitants live on less than $2 per day. Helping these people to build their assets and incomes will bolster their resilience and adaptive capacity, enabling them to meet the challenges of climate change and ecosystem degradation without sinking deeper into poverty. But how?

Effective climate adaptation requires an enabling environment—one that grants the poor the rights, resources and access they need to sustain and benefit from ecosystems, governments and markets. Development experience provides important lessons for fostering such enabling environments, including principles of good governance that provide the rural poor with control of the ecosystems on which they depend.

Just as governance successes, such as Bangladesh’s cyclone management system or Guatemala’s community forestry program, can reduce vulnerabilities, governance failures stand as obstacles to climate adaptation, depriving the poor of the means and powers to benefit from improved management of natural resources (Batha 2008). Indeed, lack of resource rights and insufficient access to markets, finance, information, and technology are often greater determinants of vulnerability for the poor than climate change itself (Schipper 2007, Ribot 2009). As national and international policymakers turn their attention to climate change adaptation, they should keep in mind that constructing an enabling environment that minimizes these vulnerabilities will be central to any meaningful and lasting increase in the adaptive capacity of the rural poor.

Preparing for Climate Change in the Upper Willamette River Basin of Western Oregon

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reached a consensus in 2007 that the evidence is now “unequivocal” that the earth’s atmosphere and oceans are warming and concluded that these changes primarily are due to human activities (IPCC, 2007a). While reducing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions is vital to stabilize the climate in the long term, excess emissions already concentrated in the atmosphere will produce significant changes in the global climate now and throughout the next century. These changes are expected to transform natural systems and pose new stresses on native species in the Upper Willamette River Basin. Changes in the climate and in the Basin’s natural systems will, in turn, modify the way the local economy functions and produce new stresses on infrastructure and buildings, human health, and the quality of life of the people who live in and enjoy the Upper Willamette River Basin.

Numerous initiatives already underway will help prepare the Basin’s communities, economy, and landscapes for these effects. However, few initiatives focus on the actions needed to prepare explicitly for climate change. Expanding existing activities, launching the additional climate preparation efforts described in this report, and continuing to develop new strategies in an integrated and co-beneficial manner can help build resistance and resilience to climate change across multiple sectors in the Upper Willamette River Basin and enable the region to thrive over the coming century. 

In the fall of 2008, the University of Oregon’s Climate Leadership Initiative (CLI) and the National Center for Conservation Science & Policy (NCCSP), in partnership with the Mapped Atmosphere-Plant-Soil-System (MAPSS) Team at the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, initiated a project to assess the likely consequences of climate change for the Upper Willamette River Basin. The Basin is defined as the region from the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers south and east to the headwaters of the South Fork Willamette, Middle Fork Willamette, and McKenzie rivers. This report outlines a framework for climate preparation activities in the Basin, but specific details, locations and issues will need to be addressed by community leaders, resource managers, business leaders, scientists, and other groups. 

Assessing the Impacts of Climate Change on Food Security in the Canadian Arctic

The objective of this study is to provide a preliminary assessment of the impacts of climate change on food security in the Canadian Arctic, examining the scope of the issue in this region, comparing it with experiences in other vulnerable regions, and providing a baseline for action. The information gathered in the study will provide the background for a workshop on Arctic food security, tentatively proposed for FY 2009–2010, which will bring together different interests in the field of food security to examine the issue in greater detail with the aim of identifying actions to help communities and governments respond to the effects of climate change on food security.

Preparing for Coastal Change: A Guide for Local Government in New Zealand

Much of New Zealand’s urban development and infrastructure is located in coastal areas, some of which are vulnerable to coastal hazards such as coastal erosion and inundation. In recent years, coastal development and associated infrastructure have intensified, and property values have increased. As development increases, the potential impacts and consequences of coastal hazards also increase. Managing this growing risk now presents a significant challenge for planning authorities in New Zealand.

Preparing for coastal change provides information to help local government and others across New Zealand strengthen the integration of coastal hazards and climate change considerations into policy, planning, asset management and decision-making.

Climate change effects are gradual, but have implications for many land-use planning decisions. They have long-term implications because of the long lifetime of structures (eg, buildings, roads, network utilities, residential developments). Considering climate change is not only a requirement of the Resource Management Act 1991, it is also wise and good business practice.

The guide comprises three parts:

Part One – The changing climate:

• discusses how climate change affects sea level

• provides guidance on planning for future sea-level rise in New Zealand

• explains the impacts of climate change on other physical drivers that influence coastal hazards such as high tides, storms, storm surge and storm tides, wave climate and sediment supply to the coast.

Part Two – Implications for New Zealand’s coastal margins:

• outlines some implications of climate change for the risk of coastal inundation and coastal erosion

• recommends how to assess these effects

•outlines the implications for salinization of surface freshwaters and groundwater covers, coastal defences and inundation by tsunami

Part Three – Responding to climate change:

• covers the legislative context

• suggests mechanisms for managing, avoiding and reducing coastal hazard risks

• deals with managing residual risk and monitoring change

• discusses some challenges in reducing coastal hazard risk 

Living with Climate Change: How Prairie Farmers Deal with Increasing Weather Variability

The effects of climate change have become a relevant and important issue of national concern in the past decade. While significant debate remains over the extent to which humans have induced climate change, it has generally been accepted that the effects of climate change are manifested in terms of increased weather variability, a higher frequency of extreme weather events and decreased predictability (Berkes and Jolly 2001; Smit et al. 2003; Venema 2005). This increased frequency of climate related shocks and stresses and difficulty in predicting growing conditions poses a significant threat to the livelihood of producers in the Canadian Prairie agroecosystem (IISD 1997). The success or failure of agriculture is intimately tied to weather conditions. It is the ability of producers to deal with climate-related shocks and stresses and adapt to change that is essential for their survival (Turner et al. 2003; Wall et al. 2004; Venema 2005).

Successful adaptations to climate change are accomplished through actions that reduce vulnerabilities and build resilience. Generally speaking, increasing options and diversifying activities are two of the main ways producers can increase resilience (Berkes & Jolly 2001; Turner et al. 2003; Walker et al. 2004). While this is not a new concept, its applicability to agricultural climate change adaptation has yet to be thoroughly explored. There already exists a wealth of knowledge on prairie agroecosystem resilience within the collective knowledge of producers. Producers may not describe their actions as building resilience however they have been adjusting their operations to changes in climate and advances in technology for generations. The nature of agriculture requires producers to be keen observers of change and have an intimate connection to their land. Building resilience into current agricultural operations may be a significant aid to producer’s abilities to adapt to weather unpredictability associated with climate change.