The Intrinsic Value of Climate Change Adaptation: A Podcast with Shaun Martin, WWF

In the latest episode of America Adapts, Doug Parsons talks with Shaun Martin, Senior Director of Adaptation and Resilience at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). First off, Doug discusses the recent inauguration of Donald Trump as President and what that might mean for climate change policy. Doug also discusses the Million Woman march (and his tiny role in it!) and how that could energize the climate change movement going forward.

Doug and Shaun then talk about WWF’s long and storied history in adaptation planning, WWF being one of the first groups to develop its own internal adaptation program. Shaun walks through the nuts and bolts of developing an adaptation program and what it means for a group that already has a longstanding history of groundbreaking conservation programs.  Shaun discusses the sometimes difficult journey of merging existing conservation efforts with new approaches like adaptation.  Shaun also discusses the key role training plays in adaptation planning at WWF, not only with his staff, but with people working in the field.  The Titanic is used as an analogy for adaption in our discussion, as Shaun walks us through what that means, and it’s not as bleak as you might think.

Shaun provides the insight, that as conservationists, we are not emotionally equipped as adaptionists to deal with the many difficult future decisions on species and ecosystems, in the context of climate change, that will need to be made.  Doug and Shaun discuss the cultural shifts needed in the conservation community to ‘give up’ on species, and are the policy pieces in place to help make those decisions.  Doug and Shaun also discuss the long standing notion of the intrinsic value of nature, why that doesn’t resonate with the broader public, and how adaptation can be a unifying theme between intrinsic value and ecosystem services.

Shaun is an expert is Ecosystem Based Adaptation (EBA) and the two spend considerable time discussing this topic, its similarities to ecosystem service, and how it’s been used in the field. 

Other topics covered:

  • Does EBA offer the US Department of Agriculture a way forward to invest more in adaptation funding?
  • Comparing adaptation to pornography to make a point: I know it when I see it!
  • Doug and Shaun count down their top 3 challenges of communicating adaptation.
  • Shaun discusses how his WWF adaptation team went through a communication training, learning how to talk adaptation with donors, the public, field staff, and more.

Additional Resources:

WWF Adapt: Free interactive courses and training activities for conservationists on climate change adaptation basics developed by Shaun. Available in multiple languages.

In A Changing Climate, We Need Nature To Save Us From Ourselves

EbA Revisited: disentangling misconceptions about nature and adaptation

5 Things You (Probably) Didn't Learn in Business School

Embracing Uncertainty: Is It Really That Hard?

America Adapts also has its own app for your listening pleasure!  Just visit the App store on Apple or Google Play on Android and search “America Adapts.” Or listen on iTunes at