Enabling Climate Adaptation

Heather McGray, a WRI Senior Associate and climate adaptation expert, explains how to enable the rural poor to adapt to 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. In this video Heather McGray explains how to do it.

Alaska Native Villages: Limited Progress Has Been Made on Relocating Villages Threatened by Flooding and Erosion

While the flooding and erosion threats to Alaska Native villages have not been completely assessed, since 2003, federal, state, and village officials have identified 31 villages that face imminent threats. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) March 2009 Alaska Baseline Erosion Assessment identified many villages threatened by erosion, but did not assess flooding impacts. At least 12 of the 31 threatened villages have decided to relocate—in part or entirely—or to explore relocation options. 

Climate Risks and Adaptive Capacity in Aboriginal Communities: An Assessment South of 60 Degrees Latitude

This document reports on the first year of a proposed three-year project to understand the potential consequences and challenges of climate change for Aboriginal communities south of 60º latitude. It is hoped that this report and subsequent outcomes of the project will help to point the way to how such communities may be better enabled and assisted to cope with both the expected and unexpected challenges that lie ahead.

Climate Change Policies in the Asia-Pacific: Re-uniting Climate Change and Sustainable Development

Climate change is real and Asia is already experiencing its adverse impacts. Projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest that such impacts will become even more intense in the future. While the contribution of developing countries in Asia to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is increasing rapidly, per capita emissions are still low and developmental challenges remain significant. Future efforts by developed countries to reduce GHG emissions through cost-effective mitigation actions, however, offer the possibility of creating new opportunities in developing countries in Asia that will contribute to their sustainable development. Strategies to integrate climate and development actions, therefore, require prompt and careful consideration from policymakers in Asia. Part I of the White Paper explains why it is necessary to integrate climate change and sustainable development in Asia and how this might be best achieved. Global estimates from the IPCC and Stern Review, and limited evidence from Asia, suggest that the costs of inaction on climate change would be many times the costs of action. Therefore, a multi-pronged approach to drastically slow down the rate of growth of GHG emissions in Asia, stabilise and eventually reduce them, is necessary and affordable. Likewise, adaptation efforts to manage the unavoidable impacts of climate change at all levels are crucial and must be set in motion now. Much of the infrastructure necessary to accommodate rapid economic growth in Asia will be built in the near future. Therefore, efforts to avoid “technology lock-in” and pursue a sustainable development path are urgently needed. Sustainable development in Asia must be based on low carbon, resource efficient and qualitatively different development practices that do not deny the right to development and improvements in the quality of life. This transition will require an informed appreciation of Asia’s current status (both good and bad) and concrete recommendations for which direction the region should take in the future as outlined in the White Paper in four priority areas. In comparison to other regions, developing countries in Asia offer the most costeffective opportunities (e.g. energy efficiency (EE) improvement and energy diversification) for GHG mitigation and for integration of climate concerns into nonclimate policies. The region also offers enormous opportunities (e.g. reversing unsustainable land use practices that lead to deforestation and degradation) for exploiting synergies between climate and other international regimes on biodiversity, desertification, and other areas. The size of the population and ecosystems vulnerable to the impacts of climate change also distinguish Asia from other regions, and failure to adapt adequately will be a major threat to meeting millennium development goals (MDG) in the region. Even though optimal paths towards adaptation are poorly understood at present, a host of “noxx IGES White Paper regrets” actions to adapt to climate change can be taken which are cost effective and make economic and environmental sense. Opportunities also exist for mainstreaming adaptation concerns in development planning and assistance. Despite strong linkages between climate change and development, and vulnerability of Asian populations and ecosystems, climate policy has thus far received limited attention from policymakers in several Asian countries. The lack of know-how in formulating integrated development and climate actions, and in exploiting various “winwin” options and co-benefits remain serious barriers in the region, leading to significant gaps between the formulation and implementation of effective policies affecting the climate. Some progress has been demonstrated in developing institutional structures (e.g. interministerial agencies, designated national authorities [DNA], and national committees on climate change), but most of these structures are designed to take advantage of the Kyoto Protocol’s clean development mechanism (CDM) and energy investment frameworks supported by international financial institutions. No country in the region has developed a comprehensive national policy framework on adaptation. 

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.

Resilience Assessment of Coral Reefs: Rapid Assessment Protocol for Coral Reefs, Focusing on Coral Bleaching and Thermal Stress

The primary focus of this assessment protocol is on the effect of climate change on thermal stress on corals, for which the strong drivers are added into the general model. Many other processes may affect this model and can be incorporated as needed for a particular instance, the resilience framework providing a context to help identify the strong drivers that maintain reef health and minimize vulnerability.

The Future is Now: An Update on Climate Change Science Impacts and Response Options for California

This report presents an interim summary of the latest in climate change science and outlines recommended response options for decision makers in California. This document contains four key messages:

  1. Observed changes in temperature, sea level, precipitation regime, fire frequency, and agricultural and ecological systems reveal that California is already experiencing the measurable effects of climate change.
  2. Scientific confidence in attributing climate change to human activities has increased since the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), which was recently made available by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  3. New scientific studies suggest that the climatic and hydrologic changes already experienced in California are due to human activity.
  4. Unmitigated climate change will lead to grave consequences for California’s economy and ecosystems. Furthermore, it appears that even a scenario that drastically curtails emissions of greenhouse gases may still lead to undesirable trends in warming and sea‐level rise.

A rapid two‐pronged response to climate that which encompasses both mitigation and adaptation has the potential to promote innovative invesment by businesses and protect environmental quality while increasing community preparedness and capacity to cope with change. Conversely, a path of inaction exposes a community’s vulnerability to climate variability and is ultimately costly.

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.

Adapting to Climate Change in The Netherlands: an Inventory of Climate Aaptation Options and Ranking of Alternatives

In many countries around the world impacts of climate change are assessed and adaptation options identified. The article describes an approach for a qualitative and quantitative assessment of adaptation options to respond to climate change in the Netherlands. The study introduces an inventory and ranking of adaptation options based on stakeholder analysis and expert judgement, and presents some estimates of incremental costs and benefits. The qualitative assessment focuses on ranking and prioritisation of adaptation options. Options are selected and identified and discussed by stakeholders on the basis of a sectoral approach, and assessed with respect to their importance, urgency and other characteristics by experts. The preliminary quantitative assessment identifies incremental costs and benefits of adaptation options. Priority ranking based on a weighted sum of criteria reveals that in the  Netherlands integrated nature and water management and risk based policies rank high, followed by policies aiming at ‘climate proof’ housing and infrastructure.