As our climate changes, the more imperative it becomes for us to adapt to these changes. Unmitigated climate change (i.e., future climate change without efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions) would, in the long term, be likely to exceed the capacity of natural, managed and human systems to adapt. Hence, the need to enhance or scale up our adaptive capacity to tackle climate change head-on.
In climate change studies, Adaptive Capacity building refers to how individuals or organizations obtain, improve or retain the skills, knowledge, tools, equipment or other resources to cope with the impacts of climate change or climate-related issues. Adaptive capacity is closely linked to social and economic development. Countries in which people, institutions, and systems can respond quickly to climate change impacts are said to have a high “adaptive capacity.” Developed countries often have higher adaptive capacities than developing nations because they have more wealth to invest in adaptive measures. It has been found that efforts to enhance adaptive capacity can help to reduce vulnerability to climate change.
These activities can include:
- Activities to promote sustainable development can act to improve people’s adaptive capacity to climate change.
- Improving access to resources, especially for developing countries who usually bear the brunt of global warming. This access could be in terms of basic needs, fundamental rights and decision-making.
- Reducing poverty; low-income communities and developing countries are more susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change and extreme events. They are limited in their capacity to manage climate risks. The cycle of poverty exacerbates the negative impacts of climate as individuals and communities will resort to unorthodox means of survival which could be a recipe for increased global warming.
- Lowering inequities of resources and wealth distribution among groups; will empower all groups and sectors of the economy adequately to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
- Improving education and information. It is safe to say the biggest threat to climate change is ignorance. Incorporating climate change studies and general awareness on its impacts through schools, universities, training, seminars, webinars, specific coaching and so on can help increase adaptive capacity. This measure is further enhanced through proper and adequate information dissemination channels.
- Improving infrastructure: Building new infrastructure assets that are climate-resilient should be prioritized, planned, designed, built and operated to account for the climate changes that may occur over their lifetime. New infrastructure could include building energy-efficient buildings or raising the height of bridges to account for sea-level rise.
- Improving institutional capacity and efficiency. Good governance characteristics – decentralization and autonomy; transparency and accountability; responsiveness and flexibility, are vital in boosting cities’ resilience to disasters and climate change. These government officials are often responsible for providing water, sanitation, drainage and solid waste collection; for some schools and healthcare facilities; and fire and other emergency services. They also generally have the responsibility for implementing the regulatory frameworks essential for public health and safety.
- Promoting local indigenous practices, knowledge, and experiences: Indigenous knowledge is usually passed from generation to generation, usually by word of mouth and cultural rituals, and has been the basis for agriculture, food preparation and conservation, health care, education, and the wide range of other activities that sustain a society and its environment in many parts of the world for many centuries.
- Elimination of gender bias: There’s a solid base of evidence showing that women are disproportionately vulnerable to climate change, not because there is something inherently vulnerable about women, but because of socio-cultural structures that deprive women of access to resources, decision-making, information, agency, etc. hence, proper education and political inclusion, especially in decision making, helps improve adaptive capacity to the impacts of climate change.
- Improving adaptation assessments: Most of the evaluations of adaptation done so far have been restricted to impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation planning, with very few assessing the processes of implementation and evaluation of actual adaptation actions. Assessments of approaches that include both top-down assessments of biophysical climate changes and bottom-up assessments of what makes people and natural systems vulnerable to those changes. These assessments will help to deliver local solutions to globally derived risks.
SCAN’s 14- Day Campaign | Day 9 – Adaptive Capacity Enhancement
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