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CIRCE Foundation Paper – part 5

Multiple Authors

Adaptation Prototypes

As examples of cases in which the information within wikiadapt can be used, prototypes have been developed for several countries which are at various stages in the development of their adaptation planning. This is an approach that can be used to address a problem in a specific region, country or a local area including those with multiple stresses as well as climate risks. There are several routes to access information on developing prototypes in the wiki. From the Main Page, click on wikiadapt and a table of contents comes into view.

The relevant sections are Vulnerability initiative. The section on themes gives an overview of our approach. It is circular because different users will jump in at various stages of the process or may only need to address parts of the whole cycle. The information on the themes will help user to help to frame the question they wish to ask and to identify which areas need further information to be gathered.

Another route in the wiki to developing prototypes which goes from a vulnerability analysis, through to communicating risk to stakeholders and policy makers is through the Guides to weADAPT. These can be accessed from the climate information initiative. These give guidance for the various stages of an assessment including steps to identify climate vulnerability and exposure, how to link this to climate data and future scenarios using the CCE tool. Users may use Communication Tools to devise risk communication strategies according to the type of target audience they are dealing with.

Several prototypes are in development (Nepal and Mali are focused on the ACCCA projects mentioned above). The Mali example includes an assessment of social vulnerability at the study site locations, the climate hazards and the exposure of the sites to the hazard plus an assessment of trends in climate and its perceived impacts on identified sectors at the study sites. This uses the AWhere GIS software to map hazards and vulnerability indices [16]. An assessment of critical thresholds and timing of climate variables is included and for this prototype alone an analysis of climate scenario data has been made possible (via our Climate Change Explorer Tool [17]). Adaptation options have been identified through community participation at the project sites through the ACCCA process.

The following is a brief overview of the prototype approach. For more details please follow the links given in the above section.

Brief Overview of the Prototype Approach

Vulnerability is the foundation of the analysis of adaptive strategies and measures. The depth of vulnerability assessment required depends on existing material and the extent to which new research is required. The aim is to focus on high priority adaptation, and not to model vulnerability in detail. A widely used approach shows livelihoods as exposed to shocks and threats, with livelihood strategies linking institutions and outcomes.

The first step is to identify vulnerable socio-economic groups. A livelihoods approach is proposed that is compatible with a poverty alleviation focus. Livelihoods are related to economic sectors, public infrastructure and ecosystem services that they are dependent on. The aim of this step is to identify the relevant vulnerable stakeholders, the nature of their interest in and support for climate change adaptation, and their links to the vulnerable livelihoods identified above. This is not to say that the most vulnerable stakeholders will necessarily always be the poorest groups in society.

Vulnerable groups are exposed to a range of present climatic hazards, trends in climatic resources that may become significant in the near future, and other environmental, economic, and socio-political stresses. Identifying the location, vulnerable groups, livelihoods, climate hazards, other stressors and climate variables is a key first step in the process of risk assessment and mapping. It may be useful to add other stresses and shocks that exacerbate the effects of climatic hazards. For instance, AIDS/HIV infection, economic recession and civil strife would alter the range of coping strategies that different livelihoods might employ in order to cope with droughts or floods. These become important if they directly affect the adaptive capacity of livelihoods and the ability to implement proposed adaptation strategies.

The next step is to ask what the major climate hazards and where do these occur? Highlighting the location of specific hotspots in the country where climate-related hazards are experienced or likely to be felt is a key step in identifying intervention areas. The initial screening process begins with this question, which allows the user to reframe the climate change problem in the context of local conditions/constraints and opportunities. This includes identifying with stakeholders what the main climatic hazards they encounter are, and how frequently they occur. This can show whether climate change impacts are likely to be material for a particular development function, activity or service. Moreover, isolating these locations for further examination is a critical starting point. Further analysis of the trends and impacts of these hazards, when combined with key vulnerability indicators will help to narrow down priority zones for specific project targets.

These hazards can also be examined to look for key thresholds in the system, for example the length of the growing season for a specific crop, or the temperature at which tourists will begin to go elsewhere. The identification of thresholds can then be used with information on trends in hazards, and projections of future climate, to identify areas particularly vulnerable to future impacts.

A first step in assessing the potential impacts of these hazards in the future is to highlight or estimate the major current and expected trends (direction, magnitude, and extent) of climate-related hazards.If the trends observed above are consistent with the range of scenarios for future climate change, then the rationale for urgent action is much stronger. It is important to evaluate:

  • Trend in Likelihood => Coupled with predicted patterns, are the occurrences of these events likely to increase/decrease or otherwise change?
  • Trend in Magnitude => Are these events likely to become more or severe in their impacts?
  • Trend in location => Are the events likely to expand into areas currently not impacted, or are they likely to become more localized?
  • Other trend descriptions => Could include a variety of conditions exhibited by these events, such as their temporal variation (are they likely to be more severe during specific months? Are they likely to be more severe when coupled with other events, such as famines, etc.?)

The next step is to the examine the climate projections for the location from a range of different climate models in order to capture the range of future projections. Ideally data downscaled to station level would be used to examine predictions of future climate variables at meteorological stations relevant to the project (downscaled data for Africa, including the Mediterranean coast, is available through the weADAPT CCE tool). If this is not available then GCM data, or RCM data if available, can be used, but due to the uncertainty of projections, it is important that a range of futures from different models is used.

These projections can be examined to see whether the key thresholds or sensitivities in the system which were previously identified will be affected. For example the range of future precipitation predicted for N. Algeria might show the possibility of a shorter rainy season, thus meaning that traditional varieties of wheat would no longer be able to be grown.

The analysis of the long-term trends in climate will ensure that adaptations to current trends in climate are not maladaptations which actually increase the vulnerability of the system to future change. It is important to note that the way information on climatic trends and future projections of climate is used must be context specific. In some cases the most important information will be current trends in climate hazards and climate variability, however in others, such as large infrastructure projetcs, future projections of climate will be the most important factor.

Based on the above analysis suitable adaptation options can be identified, and these can be screened using various decision support tools such as multi-criteria analysis to choose the most suitable and robust option. SEI is currently developing a Decision Explorer ([18]) to support this process of decision-making in adaptation. This will be available to Circe partners as deliverable 13.2, for more details please see the ongoing work on wikiADAPT

The full prototype approach is still is a process of development. Areas which we hope to improve on include:

  • Making impact models available to make using of future climate scenario envelopes.
  • Consider the role of socio-economic scenarios of the future when adaptation planning.

CIRCE Foundation Papers

CIRCE Foundation Paper – Part I Introduction

CIRCE Foundation Paper – Part II Key Concepts

CIRCE Foundation Paper – Part III Socio-Institutional Learning

CIRCE Foundation Paper – Part IV Principles

Related resources

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