The Climate Adaptation Challenge
The nature of climate change poses risks and challenges for decision makers unique in modern human history. Integrating short-term and long-term climate risks into planning and policy processes is a growing priority for governments seeking to bolster the resilience of people and ecosystems to rising temperatures, altered rainfall patterns, sea level rise and other climate impacts. In the developing world, the success of such processes will be critical to efforts by both governments and donors to safeguard development progress, strengthen food security, protect ecosystems and their services, and promote sustainable economic growth.
To be effective, it is WRR's thesis that climate adaptation will require flexible, robust and durable decision making that both reacts to and anticipates a wide range of climate impacts.
WRR Synthesis Report
A report based on the empirical findings and lessons learned from the research program, as well as from comments posted on this web site, and other contributions, will present guidance and information for public officials on effective adaptation decision making.
Informing Effective Decision Making
To inform adaptation decision making, with a focus on vulnerable developing countries, the World Resources Report will publish practical policy guidance based on engagement with key audiences and partners. Research approaches include:
- Expert Perspectives: Brief papers from thought leaders and practitioners worldwide respond to key questions that must be answered to enable effective adaptation decision making. Expert commentators then provide feedback. We invite others with an interest or experience in adaptation to use this site to react to the dialog with comments, insights and experiences.
- Case Studies: Key economic sectors will be impacted by climate change. WRR 2010 is analyzing selected examples of national decision-making processes, approaches and lessons learned in the management of water, coastal zones and forests, agriculture and electricity production.
- In-Country Simulations: Developing country policy makers and practitioners in Africa and Asia respond to simulations of future sectoral climate impacts, exploring how to incorporate both short-term and long-term risks into decision making processes.
- Decision Making In Depth: Using commissioned papers from expert practitioners, surveys of government officials and civil society, and in-person and online, roundtables, this series examines critical needs facing decision makers today: the role of information in decision making in a changing climate; emerging models for coordination; and tools to manage uncertainty.
Key characteristics of climate change impacts
Governments, especially in developing countries, have limited resources and capacity to make their societies resilient to climate change. Decision makers are further hindered by traditional planning approaches which tend to prioritize current risks. Countering climate impacts, by contrast, requires preparing for both predictable and unpredictable future risks and impacts. Particular challenges include:
- changes in the mean state, and variability, of the climate system;
- uncertainty about the rate and magnitude of impacts across the world;
- the time scales and cumulative impacts involved; and
- the likelihood of "surprise" impacts that can't be anticipated.
In addition, information generation and governance is decentralized and fragmented in many countries. This presents challenges for decision makers seeking to gather relevant data and knowledge, coordinate problem solving and planning, and share best practices.
Elements of effective adaptation decision making
WRR 2010 focuses on five key elements of decision making for effective climate change adaptation:
- Proactive - anticipates climate change's uncertainties, changes in mean state and variability and the time lag involved in climate impacts.
- Responsive - contends with climate change's unanticipated surprises.
- Adaptive - flexible and able to adapt to new information and conditions.
- Durable - responds to the longer term nature of climate change.
- Robust - withstands uncertainty and serves multiple scenarios.
For more background on the framing of the World Resources Report, and its research elements, click here.
- Expert Perspectives on...
- Does climate change require new approaches to making decisions?
- How can we balance today’s pressing needs with long term risks?
- How can development agencies help vulnerable countries adapt effectively?
- Must we fundamentally change course to conserve ecosystems in a changing climate?
- How can information for adaptation decision making be collected and disseminated so as to advance integration of climate risks into plans and policies and be useful for those who need it most?
- What types of information are needed for adaptation decision making?
- Thought leaders explore how to meet both today’s development challenges and tomorrow’s climate risks.
- How can national-level governments learn from the private sector and encourage investment and decision making to promote the public good in a changing climate?
- How can civil society best support, and hold accountable, national-level governments in their efforts to integrate climate change risks into planning and policy-making processes?
- Case Studies
- Controlling Yangtze River Floods: A New Approach
- Building Resilience to Extreme Weather Events: Index-Based Livestock Insurance in Mongolia
- Namibia: Combating Land Degradation with Tools for Local-Level Decision-Making
- Nepal: Responding Proactively to Glacial Hazards
- Increasing Food Security: Mali's National Meteorological Service Helps Farmers Manage Climate Risk
- Indonesia: Managing Peatland Fire Risk in Central Kalimantan Province
- Mangrove Restoration and Rehabilitation for Climate Change Adaptation in Vietnam
- Bangladesh's Comprehensive Approach to Disaster Management
- Rwanda: Ecosystem Restoration and Sustainable Hydropower Production
- South Africa: Ecosystem-Based Planning for Climate Change
- China's Agricultural Development: Adaptation in Action
- Brazil: Fire and Flood Responses in the Amazon
- In-Country Simulations
- Decision-Making In Depth