This article is dedicated to Climate Adaptation and Resilience. Adjoining resources emphasize innovation and entrepreneurship as means of promoting adaptation and resilience. This article is a part of the #Youth4ClimateLive Educational Toolkit.
Imagine you’re on a ship that’s sinking because of a leak. If you want to stay afloat, you’ve got to act. The first thing you might do is grab a bucket and bail water as it gushes through the hull. This response is adaptation—addressing the effect (the water in the boat) but not the cause of the problem (the hole).
The IPCC defines adaptation as “the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects.” It’s doing what we can to live with and minimize the destruction and suffering that comes from climate change. In simple terms, countries and communities need to develop adaptation solutions and implement action to respond to the impacts of climate change that are already happening, as well as prepare for future impacts.
Adaptation happens in a variety of ways. Some adaptations are fueled by changes in government policies, other adaptations occur because of technological advances, and some happen at a grassroots level in communities. There is no one-size-fits-all solution—adaptation can range from building flood defenses, setting up early warning systems for cyclones, and switching to drought-resistant crops to redesigning communication systems, business operations, and government policies. Many nations and communities are already taking steps to build resilient societies and economies, but greater action and ambition will be needed to cost-effectively manage the risks, both now and in the future.
Resilience refers to the policy, infrastructure, services, transportation, energy strategy, agricultural innovations, and planning that position municipalities and communities to withstand natural disasters, changing weather patterns, and other dangerous impacts of climate change and to recover constructively from those disruptions when they are hit. If adaptation is about bailing water from our sinking ship, resilience is about reinforcing the parts of the hull that haven’t yet been breached to reduce future risk. Resilience supports sustainable development and the construction of better, more durable systems. It leads to investment in jobs and infrastructure, meaning that it can provide valuable uplift to economies.
Investment into resilience can align with sustainable development goals, improving quality of life, stimulating the economy, and protecting the environment while safeguarding areas against the onset of climate change. Of course, adaptation and resilience must always go hand in hand with mitigation efforts to tackle the root cause of climate impacts: our global emissions and the dangerous levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. If we want our ship to stop taking on water, sooner rather than later we’ll have to patch the holes in its hull.
Banner image courtesy of Comfreak, Pixabay.
What are some examples of climate adaptation and resilience?
Get Your Feet Wet
Explore: Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on National Adaptation Plans: Building Climate Resilience in Agriculture by Connect4Climate’s partners UNDP and FAO.
Read up on: Ecosystem-Based Adaptation in this helpful article from the UN Environment Programme.
Watch: an Innovate4Climate webinar on Promoting Innovation in Climate Change Adaptation.
Watch: “Climate Adaptation is About People” and “From Niger to Kiribati, How We Are Adapting to Climate Change,” illustrative videos from the World Bank’s Climate Change Group and Connect4Climate teams
Reports, Papers, and Guiding Resources
Get Your Feet Wet
Read: 3 Things You Need to Know About Adaptation and Resilience, a 2020 World Bank Group article
Read: this article from the Guardian, this guide from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and this reference from the COP23 Presidency to develop a better understanding of the interplay between adaptation, resilience, and mitigation
Read: this overview of the World Bank's Resilience Rating System, which "provides guidance on developing climate-related projects and a way to assess what projects are doing to increase climate resilience"
Read: “Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience” by the Global Commission on Adaptation
Read: "Adaptation Principles: A Guide for Designing Strategies for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience" in the World Bank Group's Open Knowledge Repository
Read: the UN Environment Programme's Adaptation Gap Report 2020, which focuses on "financing and implementing adaptation—with an emphasis on nature-based solutions." In the Further Resources panel, you'll also be able to access supplemental materials, such as a video on ecosystem-based adaptation and UNEP's State of Planet podcast.
Explore: the many resources of the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), including its Open Data for Resilience initiative and many helpful publications. And don’t miss out on the Art of Resilience exhibit!
Read: the World Bank Group's 2019 Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience.