IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability Constraints and limitations

Yohe and Tol (2002) assessed the potential contributions of various adaptation options to improving systems’ coping capacities. They suggest focusing attention directly on the underlying determinants of adaptive capacity (see Section 17.3.1). The future status of coastal wetlands appears highly sensitive to societal attitudes to the environment (Table 6.1), and this could be a more important control of their future status than sea-level rise (Nicholls, 2004). This highlights the importance of the socio-economic conditions (e.g., institutional capabilities; informed and engaged public) as a fundamental control of impacts with and without climate change (Tompkins et al., 2005b). Hazard awareness education and personal hazard experience are significant and important contributors to reducing community vulnerability. But despite such experience and education, some unnecessary and avoidable losses associated with tropical cyclone and storm surge hazards are still highly likely to occur (Anderson-Berry, 2003). These losses will differ across socio-economic groups, as has been highlighted recently by Hurricane Katrina. The constraints and limitations on adaptation by coastal systems, both natural and human, highlight the benefits for deeper public discourse on climate risk management, adaptation needs, challenges and allocation and use of resources. Capacity-strengthening strategies

Policies that enhance social and economic equity, reduce poverty, increase consumption efficiencies, decrease the discharge of wastes, improve environmental management, and increase the quality of life of vulnerable and other marginal coastal groups can collectively advance sustainable development, and hence strengthen adaptive capacity and coping mechanisms. Many proposals to strengthen adaptive capacity have been made including: mainstreaming the building of resilience and reduction of vulnerability (Agrawala and van Aalst, 2005; McFadden et al., 2007b); full and open data exchange (Hall, 2002); scenarios as a tool for communities to explore future adaptation policies and practices (Poumadère et al., 2005); public participation, co-ordination among oceans-related agencies (West, 2003); research on responses of ecological and socio-economic systems, including the interactions between ecological, socio-economic and climate systems (Parson et al., 2003); research on linkages between upstream and downstream process to underpin comprehensive coastal management plans (Contreras-Espinosa and Warner, 2004); research to generate useful, usable and actionable information that helps close the science-policy gap (Hay and Mimura, 2006); strengthening institutions and enhancing regional co-operation and co-ordination (Bettencourt et al., 2005); and short-term training for practitioners at all levels of management (Smith, 2002a).