We worked with local communities, non-government organisations and government groups in Papua New Guinea to develop a collaborative decision-making framework informed by CSIRO science.
Uncertain futures demand a "no regrets" adaptation strategy
Many coastal communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are dependent on marine resources and ecosystems for their livelihoods and therefore are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Together with population growth and global economic conditions, this presents a formidable challenge to these communities, and it is vital to plan 'no regrets' adaptation strategies for these communities which can help prepare them for a range of future uncertainties.
Local knowledge combines with global science
In a project supported by the Australian Government's contribution to the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security, CSIRO, with the PNG Department of Environment and Conservation and the Office of Climate Change and Development, developed a framework for analysing future scenarios.
The framework takes into account the perspectives of government and local community stakeholders, and designs adaptation strategies tailored to the characteristics of local livelihoods.
The technique combines local knowledge with global climate projections (downscaled to 8 km), ecosystem services valuation, livelihoods modelling, and adaptive capacity analysis. However, predicting the impacts of climate change is challenging because climate projections are uncertain.
There are also a wide range of land and sea-based resources (or 'ecosystem goods and services') which underpin livelihoods, cultural differences between communities, and other factors such as population growth. So the design of strategies that bring benefits, even in the absence of climate change, need to be flexible to ensure they don't end up being maladaptive.
Adaptive co-management drives proactive planning
Stakeholders in participatory scenario planning workshops describe the current and potential future characteristics of the system, focusing on livelihoods. These take place at the provincial, Local Level Government and village levels. At each level, participants identify strategies for tackling potential threats to their livelihoods, and build their adaptive capacity.
In subsequent workshops, the learning and adaptation strategies identified at each scale are integrated. Stakeholders' perspectives can be compared. Participants also assess whether the strategies are already being applied in policies and programs, and if not, the barriers to their implementation. This process promotes 'adaptive co-management' between the stakeholders.
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