Eugenio Barrios & Sergio Salinas, WWF-Mexico
Bart Wickel, WWF-US
Climatic change and variability are presenting serious challenges to a country that already is experiencing serious strain on its water resources. © Edward Parker / WWF-Canon
Freshwater ecosystems occupy approximately 1% of the earth’s surface yet possess about 12% of all known animal species. By virtue of their position in the landscape they connect terrestrial and coastal marine biomes and provide and sustain ecosystem services vital to the health and persistence of human communities. These services include the supply of clean water for food production (including freshwater fisheries, aquaculture and agriculture), urban and industrial consumption, among others. Over the past century many freshwater ecosystems around the world have been heavily modified or lost due to the alteration of flow regimes (e.g. due to damming, canalization, diversion, over-abstraction). The synergistic impacts of land use change, changes in flows, chemical deterioration, and climate change have left many systems and their species very little room to adjust to change, while future projections indicate a steady increase in water demand for food and energy production and water supply to suit the needs of a growing world population.
Steve Adams, Senior Advisor for Climate Adaptation – Institute for Sustainable Communities
Signed in 2009, the four counties committed to developing a region-wide climate action plan.
Since 2008, adaptation has rapidly climbed the policy agenda at every level of government. Previous posts here at ClimatePrep have documented the leading efforts across the US and around the world: cities are assessing their vulnerabilities and taking measures to harden infrastructure, increase design capacities, and develop strategies to protect public health; states are taking proactive measures in wildlife management, water resource protection, and coastal planning; and federal agencies are increasingly active in areas as diverse as endangered species protection, federal highway planning, and community development programs. But as the Council on Environmental Quality – Interagency Adaptation Task Force noted in its 2010 report to the President, “[a]daptation requires coordination across multiple sectors, geographical scales, and levels of government . . . Because impacts, vulnerability, and needs vary by region and locale, adaptation will be most effective when driven by local or regional risks and needs.”
Stacy Vynne, The Resource Innovation Group
Aerial view of Portland, © DubbaG (via Wikipedia)
The question of how to design and implement effective adaptation measures is one that I think most adaptation practitioners are still struggling with, and will continue to struggle with, for many years to come. With hundreds of adaptation initiatives underway around the world, we are beginning to develop a set of best practices that will be valuable as we move forward with further project implementation. What many of us are finding is that adaptation isn’t a one size fits all- effective adaptation will likely vary by region and expected climate impacts as well as be driven by the local economy, demographics, and values. Where I work, The Resource Innovation Group, we are attempting to provide some insight into this challenging question of “effective” adaptation by experimenting with different approaches. We are currently embarking on a project aims to engage the greater region in collaboration around climate change adaptation through the Willamette Valley Resilience Compact.
By Jonathan Randall, Millennium Challenge Corporation
Imagine you are walking down the street on your way to your favorite sandwich shop. You are dreaming about the amazing chicken sandwich you are about to order when all of a sudden an activist from Veggie Lovers Unite! hands you a flyer.On the front page it says “Switch now! Become a vegetarian!” Just underneath the headline is a citation from a very reputable scientific journal. It cites the statistic: “it takes 10 times more fossil fuel to produce one calorie of animal protein than it does to produce one calorie of plant protein.”
On the back page of the flyer, there are quotes from several well-known scientists, politicians, and celebrities about how happy they are now that they switched to vegetarianism. The flyer also outlines a five step plan for how to make the switch from die-hard, meat-devouring carnivore to tofu-marinating vegetarian.
You continue walking down the street to the sandwich shop. You’re not normally a vegetarian, but you were just presented with some credible scientific evidence that switching to vegetarianism would be good for the environment, and that’s something you care about. Are you going to make the switch? Are you going to order the vegetarian sandwich?
The answer is most likely: No. Even though you are a “science-type” and hold scientific evidence in high regard, the statistic on the flyer is just not enough to convince you to make a major life change. In fact, it isn’t even enough to convince you to order a vegetarian sandwich five minutes after reading the flyer.
Now imagine you are the head of a government agency, say the City Water Authority. An environmental scientist from the World Climate Organization comes to brief you on the impact that climate change will have on your water management systems. Are you going to take his or her word and start making changes tomorrow? Probably not.
What, then, is required to make a government official, or anyone for that matter, digest new evidence and take action?
By: Stacy Vynne, the Resource Innovation Group (TRIG)
United States U.S. © Dept. of Commerce/National Climactic Data Center/NOAA Satellite and Information Service
For the past four years, the organization that I work for, The Resource Innovation Group (TRIG), has been running a series of Climate Futures Forums in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. The Forums are essentially based on the principles of Community Based Adaptation (CBA) and we have found them to be an effective means for bridging the gap between climate scientists and local decision-makers. In addition, the Forums demonstrate the value of bringing local experts into the community adaptation planning process: these “experts” are individuals that may not necessarily have academic training on climate change or adaptation, but who have observational and experiential expertise. They live, work and play in these communities and know them well. While the Forums have proven to be extremely instrumental for adaptation planning in the Pacific Northwest, I hope that by sharing the process and lessons learned here, other organizations may be interested in replication.
By Devyani Parameshwar, Intellcap
A nighttime view of Shanghai city, China. © Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK
While mitigating the future rise in global temperature has received much attention worldwide, support to help those vulnerable adapt to the inevitable impacts of rising temperature has been limited. The estimated annual cost of adaptation is USD 100 bn, and bilateral and multilateral funding pledges form just a fraction of this amount. Given that donor and government funding is neither sufficient nor sustainable, there is an urgent need to engage private capital and enterprise in climate change adaptation.
Asian cities are expected to account for more than 60% of global population growth in the next 30 years. The bulk of this growth is expected to come from tier two and three cities and towns that are least equipped with the infrastructure to cope with increased population pressure. As a result, a large number of poor people in urban areas will be highly vulnerable to the changing climate; many already are. Efforts to build resilient cities are thus critical now, and through the development and provision of resilient and inclusive products and services the private sector can participate.
In order to explore business models with the potential to build the resilience of the urban poor, Intellecap, an inclusive business advisory firm, is partnering with the Rockefeller Foundation and the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN). The initial report based on a study of vulnerabilities and opportunities in four Asian cities identified nine key sectors with clear business opportunities in the area of climate adaptation and resilience: micro-insurance, affordable healthcare, waste management and sanitation, water management, affordable housing, off-grid renewable energy, microfinance, information and communication technology and livelihood promotion.
By Shaun Martin, WWF-US
© Michel Gunther / WWF-Canon
It can be challenging to find climate change adaptation resources that explain complex concepts to lay audiences in easy-to-understand language. Academic journal articles, project case studies, vulnerability assessments, and the like often speak to the experts rather than newcomers. Providing these types of documents to those new to the field is like asking them to watch a mystery movie one hour after it started – they might catch on eventually, but chances are they will leave the cinema confused and frustrated.
Thankfully there are a number of resources out there that are appropriate for those who are relatively new to adaptation. Here are a few that I have found particularly useful and always include in the bundle of pdf’s that I distribute to our workshop participants. All are available free of charge online.
By Jessica Frank, Twin
Member of the Gumutindo Cooperative © Jessica Frank
Twin works in partnership with over 50 farmer organisations world wide, facilitating market access and helping to build business and organisational capacity. We are currently developing our strategy to support smallholder producer organisations to effectively plan adaptation interventions with their members; an initial project with Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative Enterprises in Uganda is already underway.
Gumutindo: Climate Change is Here Now.
Members of Gumutindo Cooperative live in the upland valleys of Mount Elgon, where they produce high quality organic and Fairtrade certified coffee. Climate change presents a serious threat to smallholder coffee farmers since coffee trees are highly vulnerable to changes in their environment and only thrive within a narrow temperature range and under the right rainfall conditions. In Uganda, coffee farmers are extremely worried about the future since they are already suffering from increased climate variability including longer drought periods and heavier rainfall leading to poor quality cherry, low yields and severe erosion. In March 2010 following extremely heavy rains, a devastating landslide killed over 300 people that live and farm on Mount Elgon. This season farmers suffered from an unusually long drought season and extremely late rains, threatening food security.
By Geoff Barnard, Climate and Development Knowledge Network
Gaining perspective on climate knowledge portals ©Tim Woods, Green Ink.
The symptoms are familiar. You seem to hear about a new climate information portal or knowledge platform being launched every week. You check it out and it seems impressive at first glance. Nice graphics. Promising headings. Ambitious objectives. Cool tools.
But as you click further you start to wonder. How’s this different from that portal you heard about last week? Or that big World Bank one (or was it UN) that’s been around for a few years? Which one is more useful for me, and how are they different? How can I make sure I’m getting the best information? There’s so many out there, how can I make sense of them? And which one would I recommend to my developing country partner with a patchy internet connection and not a lot of time to play with?
Let’s call it Portal proliferation Syndrome or PPS, because along with this syndrome you tend to get APS (Acronym Proliferation Syndrome). It’s widespread, and it’s becoming increasingly global as more countries start thinking about how to get to grips with climate change, and more organisations and donors pick up on the climate issue.