At the community level, multiple stressors interact to increase physical, social and economic risk and vulnerability to climate change. Understanding the vulnerabilities and capacities of households and communities to cope with or adapt to change is an essential component for planning effective adaptation and mitigation at the local level. Good planning, however, means combining local knowledge with scientific and technical knowledge. The value of combining local knowledge on (physical, social and economic) vulnerability, capacities and observed climate change with top-down information on long-term change has been recognised as a central process for integrating climate change into planning at all levels. Such processes also need to recognise how climate change may impact households and individuals within a community in different ways.
The science and technical sources of climate change information and physical impacts fall short of what is required for supporting adaptation at the community level – and indeed for identifying appropriate low carbon technologies. Science-led approaches must be matched by approaches that engage with existing issues that frame vulnerability and poverty, such as power relations, inequality and gender. At the local level adaptation is more directed at building local adaptive capacity to cope with and respond to change through socio-cultural and governance solutions, as opposed to pure engineered responses.
Many households and communities globally are already involved in informal or autonomous adaptation processes – both to climate change and to wider drivers of social and economic change – and it is important that such processes, knowledge and skills are not overlooked when considering climate change planning. Often, knowledge about adaptation grows out of experimentation and innovation, which requires a learning-by-doing approach. The value of combining local knowledge on vulnerability, capacity and observed climate change with top-down information on impacts has been recognised as a central process for integrating climate change into planning at all levels – not just the community scale.
Taking a socio-cultural and governance approach at the local level needs to be part of a bigger picture of adaptation planning and action. Scientific knowledge should be made more accessible and relevant to the local scale in order that communities have the information and tools they need to make informed and strategic decisions that go beyond short term coping responses. On the other hand local knowledge should be linked at the national level to ensure that top-down interventions recognise and respond to local contexts and reduce the potential of inappropriate design and implementation. The Nepal LAPA article proposes one option for integrating top-down and bottom-up approaches to adaptation.
- Local Adaptation Plans of Action (LAPAs)
- G. Karki (ed); B> Regmi (ed); J. Ayers 2012
- Nepal was among the last countries to develop the National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPAs) for climate change but it has been able to pick lessons from NAPA processes in other countries. NAPA is an overarching document for addressi...
- Autonomous adaptation to climate change: a literature review
- A. Malik (ed); X. Qin (ed); S. Smith (ed) / The George Washington University Medical Center, USA 2010
- The global climate is already shifting and further significant change is expected in the coming decades. Studies on climate change have long focused on mitigation, although adaptation has drawn more attention in recent years. This lit...
- Gender, climate change and community based adaptation planning
- K. Vincent; L. Wanjiru; A. Aubry / United Nations Development Programme 2010
- This guidebook for designing and implementing gender-sensitive community-based adaptation (CBA) projects draws on the experiences of the United Nations Development Programme - Global Environment Facility (UNDP-GEF) CBA programme from ...
- Assessing vulnerability and adaptive capacity to climate risks: methods for investigation at local and national levels
- A., T. Kuriakose; L. Bizikova; C., A. Bachofen / World Bank 2009
- This paper presents the research and learning approach of a World Bank study, and offers emerging findings on policy, as well as institutional questions surrounding adaptation arenas in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Ghana and Mozambi...