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;
- 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.
Navigate through the blue bar below to learn more about adaptation to climate change.
Monitoring & Evaluation
Stakeholder engagement and knowledge management
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
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).
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
Stakeholder engagement and knowledge
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.
The Adaptation Exchange