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Adaptation Pathways: responding to climate change

Adaptation pathways: responding to climate change using an adaptation pathway and decision-making approach
Project leader
Sarah Park
1 Oct 2011
1 Oct 2013
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) through its Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) regional technical assistance (RETA) program is providing technical assistance to five Pacific countries. Through one of its programs - "Strengthening coastal and marine resources management in the Coral Triangle of the Pacific (Phase II)" - they are seeking to improve the resilience of coastal and marine ecosystems in the CTI countries of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste, as well as neighbouring Fiji and Vanuatu, in the face of multiple drivers of change, including climate change. This project seeks to build an effective climate change adaptation response for coastal ecosystems as a means of helping those who rely on them for their livelihoods.
The WorldFish Adaptation Pathways project sits within the broader ADB RETA project with the aim of enhancing community capacity to develop and implement effective adaptation actions and a long-term strategy for responding to a changing biophysical and socio-economic environment.

Taking a decision-focused approach

In line with findings from a WorldFish regional review of the needs of coastal communities in terms of adaptation research and development, and recent advances in adaptation science, this project is taking a decision-focused approach to developing adaptation plans in collaboration with members of coastal communities.
This approach is based around the concept of adaptation as an ongoing and dynamic pathway, that is navigated by decision-makers at all levels in society.
Notable features of the adaptation pathway and its inherent decision-making approach include:
  • Management of uncertainty in socio-economic projections (i.e. high, medium or low emissions scenarios) and climate science, by focusing decision-making on contextually relevant livelihood-focused thresholds (rather than points in time).
  • Attributing value to past vulnerability assessments and explicitly building upon them.
  • Recognizing the contested values inherent in the numerous vulnerability assessment methods presently being used in the region.
  • Providing a scale-neutral framework that enables decision-making and adaptation planning to be considered from local to national levels simultaneously and thereby from a ‘nested’ perspective.
  • Promoting adaptation as a dynamic process that requires ongoing and iterative management.

Responding to stakeholder needs

This project has been designed to iteratively respond to the needs of coastal community stakeholders and generate specific information that will help inform their decision-making processes.
To enable us to understand the consequences of different adaptation actions on coastal communities, the WorldFish project team contains a suite of evaluation skills that will enable us to undertake integrated economic, social and environmental assessments of promising adaptation actions.

Communicating the results

By the end of the project we intend to have the following outputs available:
  • A method manual designed to guide stakeholders through an analysis of adaptation pathways based on the decision-focused approach to adaptation planning and implementation.
  • A database of past vulnerability and adaptation assessments (up to September 2013) which will be available via SPREP’s Climate Portal, together with a critical evaluation of the existing community adaptation tools.
  • Mid-term and final project reports submitted to ADB, along with a Policy Briefing – all of which will aid communication of key findings to regional organisations and stakeholders.
We anticipate that these learning and knowledge products will add value to past assessments of vulnerability to climate change. In particular, regional stakeholders will emerge with greater capacity in planning, implementing and monitoring adaptation actions within the context of a long-term strategy for addressing change. Importantly, this approach will enhance capacity for integrating (i.e. mainstreaming) these climate change adaptation planning and implementation actions within broader activities aimed at promoting human development.