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By Helen Beringen 25 January 2022 2 min read

Need help navigating the complex cycle of climate change adaptation?

As the world recognises the need to adapt to climate change[Link will open in a new window], diverse adaptation planning and risk assessment guides have emerged.

A new journal paper[Link will open in a new window] looks to simplify the journey to action for organisations considering climate adaptation for the first time.

Published in Climate Risk Management, the paper sharpens advice about how to assess climate change risks and guide adaptation.

Navigating the climate adaptation journey

Figuring out how to adapt to climate change is hard, especially if you are just starting on the journey.

And the ways our businesses and communities need to adapt are different.

So, lead author and CSIRO Honorary Fellow, Dr Mark Stafford Smith, and his team has worked through the different approaches. These will help the adaptation researchers and practitioners who assess climate change risks and guide adaptation.

“This actually helps researchers identify what approaches to use at different stages in peoples’ adaptation journey,” Mark says.

This review identifies leading practice around a basic set of six core steps in an adaptation cycle, which could be the starting point for any new guide, to better apply adaption actions.

The steps are simple:

  1. Setting the scope (Scope)
  2. Creating scenarios (Envision)
  3. Identifying risks and opportunities (Identify)
  4. Prioritising options to address risks and capture opportunities (Prioritise)
  5. Taking action to adapt as well as monitor (Implement)
  6. Sharing, learning and adjusting course as needed (Evaluate)

Exploring unknown futures

But that is the easy part.

“Adapting to climate change involves some surprisingly tough concepts,” Mark says.

“This includes dealing with uncertain futures, identifying things that need to be done now, even though their benefits will only turn up later, and handling complexity.

“So, people new to thinking about it need much simpler approaches than experts, yet most advice is more or less one-size-fits-all.”

In this paper, the researchers wanted to think about how to have easier entry points to start thinking about it.

Dealing with differences

“Different users need to think about adaptation very differently, according to their circumstances,” Mark says.

“In particular, people new to thinking about adaptation need help to start to engage with it simply, while expert users potentially need lots of details.”

The author team analysed many guides used around the globe. They showed the same broad steps of planning how to adapt applied, but it was not adjustable for different needs.

“While there is a fairly standard set of steps to adapting to climate change, how these are carried out really needs adjusting,” Mark says.

“For example, you need to consider whether you’re doing an initial scan of the risks faced by a government department, a community or even an individual, and a detailed assessment for a major infrastructure project.”

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