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

4.6.2 Assessing the effectiveness and costs of adaptation options

There are few factual studies that have established the effectiveness and costs of adaptation options in ecosystems. Unfortunately, this makes a comprehensive assessment of the avoided damages (i.e., benefits) and costs impossible (see also Section 4.5). But the costs involved in monitoring, increasing the resilience of conservation networks and adaptive management are certainly large. For example, the money spent annually on nature conservation in the Netherlands was recently estimated to be ¤1 billion (Milieu en Natuurplanbureau, 2005). Of this amount, ¤285 million was used to manage national parks and reserves and ¤280 million was used for new reserve network areas and habitat improvement; the main objective being to reduce fragmentation between threatened populations and to respond to other threats. The reserve network planned for the Netherlands (to be established by 2020) will increase the resilience of species, populations and ecosystems to climate change, but at a high cost. Although not defined explicitly in this way, a significant proportion of these costs can be interpreted as climate adaptation costs.

4.6.3 Implications for biodiversity

Many studies and assessments stress the adverse impacts of climate change on biodiversity (e.g., Gitay et al., 2002; Hannah and Lovejoy, 2003; Thomas et al., 2004a; Lovejoy and Hannah, 2005; Schröter et al., 2005; Thuiller et al., 2005b; van Vliet and Leemans, 2006), but comprehensive appraisals of adaptation options to deal with declining biodiversity are rare.

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, http://www.biodiv.org) aims to conserve biodiversity, to sustainably use biodiversity and its components and to fairly and equitably share benefits arising from the utilisation of biodiversity. This goes much further than most national biodiversity policies. The CBD explicitly recognises the use of biodiversity, ecosystems and their services and frames this as a developmental issue. As such, it extends beyond UNFCCC’s objective of “avoiding dangerous human interference with the climate system at levels where ecosystems cannot adapt naturally”. The main tool proposed by the CBD is the ecosystem approach (Smith and Malthby, 2003) based on integrated response options that intentionally and actively address ecosystem services (including biodiversity) and human well-being simultaneously, and involve all stakeholders at different institutional levels. The ecosystem approach resembles sustainable forest management projects (FAO, 2001). In theory, the ecosystem approach helps the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, but applications of the approach have had limited success (Brown et al., 2005a). Integrated responses include, however, learning by doing; a proactive approach that should increase the resilience of ecosystems and biodiversity.