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Elements of Adaptation


Elements of adaptation

Elements of adaptation



Adaptation activities span five general components:

  • Observation of climatic and non-climatic variables;
  • Assessment of climate impacts and vulnerability;
  • Planning;
  • Implementation; and
  • Monitoring and evaluation of adaptation actions.

To enable knowledge sharing and learning, active and sustained engagement of stakeholders including national, regional, multilateral and international organizations, the public and private sectors, civil society and other relevant stakeholders, and effective management of knowledge are also important aspects of adaptation. Adaptation to the impacts of climate change may be undertaken across various regions, and sectors, and at various levels.

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Observation

At the outset of any adaptation initiative, observation and monitoring of climatic and non-climatic, socio-economic and environmental variables is important to find and attribute climate change impacts, and to support research towards improved understanding, modelling and prediction of the climate system and climate change impacts. Data can be collected on all aspects of the climate system including on the physical, chemical and biological properties and atmospheric, oceanic, hydrologic, cryospheric and terrestrial processes. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and WMO co-sponsored observing systems such as the Global Ocean Observing System, Global Terrestrial Observing System and Global Climate Observing System are major sources of observational data.  Other sources of relevant climatic and non-climatic information include: The IPCC Data Distribution Centre; UNDP’s country-level climate profiles (including both observations and model-based scenarios), the World Bank climate change portal providing quick and readily accessible climate and climate-related data to policy makers and development practitioners, and tide gauge data from the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level are also useful sources, alongside indigenous knowledge and observations. 

The IPCC Working Group I uses these observations to assess the physical scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change.

Parties discuss research and systematic observation under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA). Observation activities for adaptation have been undertaken by Parties and partners of the Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation, and in relation to the preparation of national adaptation programmes of action (NAPA) under the least developed countries work programme, as well as in relation to the work programme on loss and damage and preparation of national adaptation plans under the Cancun Adaptation Framework



Assessment

Adaptation assessment refers to the practice of identifying options to adapt to climate change, and evaluating them in terms of criteria such as availability, benefits, costs, effectiveness, efficiency and feasibility (IPCC 2007, Fourth Assessment Report).  Along with observation, assessment of climate change impacts on natural systems (e.g. agricultural productivity, water supplies) and human systems (e.g. social well-being, economic activities) is required to inform the subsequent elements of adaptation.

Assessment for adaptation is discussed, and activities undertaken by Parties in relation to the preparation of national adaptation programmes of action (NAPA) under the least developed countries work programme, as well as under the work programme on loss and damage and preparation of national adaptation plans under the Cancun Adaptation Framework.  Parties and partners of the Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation also collaborate on activities for adaptation assessment, as highlighted in Action Pledges.

Assessments of climate change impacts and vulnerability vary widely, depending on the situation (e.g. a natural resource/production system such as agriculture, or an economic activity such as investment in infrastructure development); time frame (e.g. near-term consistent with annual crop planning, or longer timeframe comparable to the design lifetime of road transport system); region and area (e.g. a transboundary watershed or a single site); and purpose of the assessments (e.g. to raise awareness of climate change, or to inform the technical design of large/expensive infrastructure).  



Planning

Under the UNFCCC, various processes have been established to support Parties in their planning efforts on adaptation. The NAPAs enable LDCs to identify and prioritize urgent and immediate needs with regard to adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change. 

A large number of activities have been carried out by Parties and partner organizations under the Nairobi work programme, in relation to climate-related risks and extreme events; socio-economic information; adaptation planning and practices, and economic diversification, including activities in Action Pledges.

The Cancun Adaptation Framework supports Parties to plan and prioritize adaptation actions, including two focus areas: supporting least developed countries in the formulation and implementation of national adaptation plans; and, a work programme to consider approaches to address loss and damage associated with climate change in particularly vulnerable developing countries.



Implementation

Under the UNFCCC, the Cancun Adaptation Framework supports Parties to the UNFCCC to implement adaptation actions, including two focus areas: the formulation and implementation of national adaptation plans; and, a work programme to consider approaches to address loss and damage associated with climate change in particularly vulnerable developing countries.  Many activities have been carried out towards the implementation of adaptation actions under the Nairobi work programme, least developed countries work programme, including through national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs) for the LDCs



Monitoring & Evaluation

Given the complexity and long-term nature of climate change, it is essential that adaptation be designed as a continuous and flexible process, including feedback through monitoring and evaluation (M&E).  The implementation of adaptation actions needs to be regularly monitored, evaluated and revised, both in terms of the validity of the underlying scientific assumptions and the appropriateness of projects, policies and programmes, including their effectiveness, efficiency and overall utility. M&E of adaptation actions, including projects, policies and programmes, can be undertaken throughout the adaptation process and/or after adaptation actions have been implemented. A monitoring and evaluation framework may be developed to ensure clearly formulated goals, objectives and output measures as well as the availability of good quality data. Parties and partner organizations have made submissions on M&E under the NWP, and M&E is actively undertaken as part of national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs). 



 Stakeholder engagement and knowledge management

Effective engagement of stakeholders and management of knowledge for adaptation is vital in supporting all adaptation activities, at each step in the process.Under the Cancun Adaptation Framework, relevant multilateral, international, regional and national organizations, the public and private sectors, civil society and other relevant stakeholders are invited to undertake and support enhanced action on adaptation at all levels. The Nairobi work programme provides a platform for Parties and stakeholders from a range of organizations to collaborate on adaptation activities in various sectors, levels and regions, and manage knowledge on adaptation. Many resources have been developed under the least developed countries work programme, as well as the Nairobi work programme, including the LDC portal, online databases and printed publications. Many Nairobi work programme partners also host adaptation knowledge platforms and networks, including Eldis, the Climate and Development Knowledge Network, the Adaptation Learning Mechanism, ENDA, the Iberoamerican Network of Climate Change Bureaus (RIOCC) and Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), among others. 




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