Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

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2.7.4. Relevance and Use of DAFs in Regional Adaptation Decisions—Selected Examples

Sectoral adaptation decisions must be considered in the broader regional context in which evolution in related sectors and their responses to changing climatic conditions represent additional factors to consider in planning a given sector's own adaptation strategy. This process is likely to involve a broad mix of private and public stakeholders and their interactions. From the perspectives of regional planners and policymakers who are responsible for the overall socioeconomic development of a specific region, the challenge is to create conditions under which relevant sectoral actors can formulate their own adaptive strategies efficiently and install public policies that will help adaptation in sectors that provide public services and manage public resources.

Designing and implementing regional climate change studies that incorporate full-fledged DAFs to support the development of regional climate adaptation policies has proven to be an insurmountable challenge to date. This is understandable, in view of the difficulties involved, and indicates a crucial research area for the future.

Most statements on regional adaptation policies in the literature stem from limited but logical extensions of sectoral climate impact assessment studies. Once possible biophysical changes and their direct or indirect socioeconomic consequences are established, impact assessors mention a few options that could mitigate those impacts or moderate their consequences. Seldom are these lists comprehensive, and they scarcely entail even direct cost estimates, let alone assessments of indirect costs and ancillary benefits involved in the specified adaptation options.

The study by Ringius et al. (1996) on climate change vulnerability and adaptation in Africa is a good example. Focusing on impacts on agriculture and water, the authors develop a typology of adaptive responses and discuss their effectiveness from the perspectives of different stakeholders. Although the study is extremely useful in pointing out that a convenient and crucial starting point for decisions on adapting to expected climate change in Africa is to reduce present vulnerability and enhance the capacity to respond to any environmental and economic perturbations (not just climate and weather), no attempt has been made to evaluate the costs and benefits of different options or to rank them in terms of their effectiveness.

An early policy-oriented impact assessment study adopted the PE approach to synthesize results of sectoral studies in a DAF in selected countries in southeast Asia (Toth, 1992a,b). The project included data collection, modeling, completion of first-order impact assessments, analysis of socioeconomic impacts on the impact assessment side, development of background scenarios, and pre-interviews with "policy" participants as preparations for PE workshops. The results of these workshops indicate that the PE approach might be a useful tool in structuring the numerous uncertain facets that are related to developing robust regional adaptation policies.

A partially integrated regional cost-benefit assessment has been prepared for the entire coastal area of Poland (Zeidler, 1997). Scenarios of sea-level rise have been combined with different assumptions about socioeconomic development in the potentially affected coastal region to explore mainly direct and relatively easy-to-estimate costs and benefits of three specifically defined adaptation strategies: retreat (no adaptation), limited protection, and full protection. Because of its numerous merits and despite its limitations, this study has demonstrated the feasibility of using CBA to formulate climate change adaptation problems in a simple DAF and the potential usefulness of its results to policymakers.

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