Livelihoods and Climate Change: Combining Disaster Risk Reduction, Natural Resource Management, and Climate Change Adaptation in a New Approach to the Reduction of Vulnerability and Poverty
Whatever happens to future greenhouse gas emissions, we are now locked into inevitable changes to climate patterns. Adaptation to climate change is therefore no longer a secondary and long-term response option only to be used as a last resort. It is now prevalent and imperative, and for those communities already vulnerable to the impacts of present day climate hazards, an urgent imperative. Successful adaptation must be accomplished through actions that target and reduce the vulnerabilities poor people now face, as they are likely to become more prevalent as the climate changes. This approach calls for a convergence of four distinct communities who have long been tackling the issue of vulnerability reduction through their respective activities—disaster risk reduction, climate and climate change, environmental management, and poverty reduction. Bringing these communities together and offering a common platform— and a shared vocabulary—from which to develop an integrated approach to climate change adaptation can provide an opportunity to revisit some of the intractable problems of environment and development. The starting point for this convergence is a common understanding of the concepts of adaptation, vulnerability, resilience, security, poverty and livelihoods, as well as an understanding of the gaps in current adaptation approaches. Taken together, they indicate a need—and an opening—for adaptation measures based on the livelihood activities of poor and vulnerable communities. This places the goal of poverty reduction at the centre of adaptation, as the capabilities and assets that comprise people’s livelihoods often shape poverty as well as the ability to move out of poverty.