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Adapting to Climate Change





  

International Policy Context
Adaptation, the process of adjusting to changing environmental conditions, encompasses a broad set of activities designed to reduce human and ecosystem vulnerability to climate change and its potential long-term impacts. Interventions can range in scale and scope from small drip irrigation installations to help African farmers weather more severe droughts to mangrove restoration programs to help Pacific Islanders buffer against natural disasters and levees to protect Southeast Asian communities from sea-level rise.

Numerous policy and funding mechanisms have recently emerged to support adaptation, and together the largest funds are expected to channel hundreds of millions of dollars to adaptation activities over the coming decades. However, the allocation of these funds remains controversial, in part because of the diversity of possible interventions.

Successfully supporting adaptation and setting priorities for adaptation funding will demand extraordinary new approaches to:

  • synthesizing data on projected climate impacts,
     
  • integrating this information with data on adaptation responses on-the-ground,
     
  • disseminating data widely and supporting outreach at multiple scales,
     
  • and monitoring and evaluating interventions to help set priorities for the future.

Dialogues at the recent United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP 14) in Poland, underscored that adaptation policy design is a fundamentally spatial problem. Geography is one of the few common threads connecting climate impact science to programs designed to promote adaptation. Therefore, mapping can play a central role in building and maintaining the essential linkages among science, policy, and ontheground practice. Because adaptation is both a global and a local problem affecting populations and ecosystems around the world, it is natural that responses will be sector-, site-, and population-specific. Success depends on real-time coordination of impacts and actions.

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