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Adaptation Examples: International

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Adaptation Examples in International

Key Points
  • Many countries, such as Australia, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom, are taking a national-scale approach to adaptation and have developed national adaptation policies and programs to address climate change vulnerabilities.
  • Countries such as the Netherlands and Australia are largely focusing adaptation efforts on certain sectors, such as coastal resources and water management.
  • Least developed countries are creating National adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs) to identify and adapt to the most urgent and immediate needs on climate change impacts.
  • International development organizations such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provide financial and technical assistance to incorporate adaptation into development efforts in developing countries.

Climate change is already affecting resources and communities around the globe. Future climate change could make impacts even more severe. Particular concerns include regional water scarcity, food shortages, extreme weather events, severe storms, sea level rise, and human health impacts. For more information about global climate change impacts, visit the International Impacts section.

Governments and international organizations are responding to and preparing for climate change impacts. Below are several examples of adaptation actions from around the world. These examples are intended to illustrate the various types and locations of existing adaption actions. Neither the case studies nor the following links are meant to be comprehensive.

Countries develop national-level climate change adaptation policies and programs

Some countries are taking a national approach to addressing climate change impacts. For example: Australia created a Climate Change Adaptation Program Exit EPA Disclaimer to help Australians better understand climate change, manage risks, and take advantage of potential opportunities. Through the program, the government has funded a number of projects and assessments including:

  • Efforts to build local government capacity and update professional development and accreditation programs for professions likely to be affected by climate change.
  • The creation of several national vulnerability assessments on coastal communities, biodiversity, World Heritage properties, and Australia's National Reserve System for protected lands.
  • Formation of the Climate Adaptation Flagship, Exit EPA Disclaimer a research partnership among public and private sector entities. The partnership establishes an integrated science-driven approach to inform national planning, regulation, and investment decisions.

The Nigerian government is coordinating adaptation efforts across sectors as well as levels of government. In 2011, the Building Nigeria's Response to Climate Change (BNRCC) Project Exit EPA Disclaimer released a draft of the National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action on Climate Change for Nigeria (PDF) Exit EPA Disclaimer . The strategy suggests a series of adaptation goals and recommended policies, programs, and other measures, such as:

  • States and local governments develop climate change adaptation action plans for urban areas, especially high-risk settlements such as island communities, and state universities expand agricultural research relating to adaptation.
  • Companies incorporate climate change impacts into annual and long-term plans, and banks and insurance companies promote climate-resilient land use and construction.
  • The federal and local governments expand forests by selecting reforestation projects and reducing fuel wood demand, while communities develop community-based sustainable forest management plans that account for climate change impacts.

The United Kingdom (UK) Exit EPA Disclaimer is taking a number of actions to facilitate national climate change adaptation, including the following:

  • The Climate Change Act 2008 Exit EPA Disclaimer requires the country to conduct a national climate change risk assessment and review the national adaptation program every five years.
  • Sixteen UK government departments have published adaptation plans Exit EPA Disclaimer that set out adaptation policies and priorities.
  • The UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) Exit EPA Disclaimer was established in 1997 to coordinate scientific research about the impacts of climate change and to help organizations adapt to unavoidable impacts.

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Some countries focus adaptation plans on their most vulnerable sectors

Map of Europe with grey countries and a box that highlights the Netherlands which is colored orange.

The Netherlands is especially sensitive to sea level rise. Source: CIA Factbook (2012)

Several countries are focusing their adaptation efforts on the sectors that climate change is expected to impact most. Two examples of sector-specific adaptation follow.

The Netherlands is explicitly incorporating future climate change scenarios into their coastal zone management. [1] For example, they have:

  • Adopted the Flooding Defence Act and Coastal Defence Policy, which allow for the inclusion of emerging climate trends, and prepared risk assessments of flooding and coastal damage that affect planning and engineering projects in the coastal zone.
  • Built a storm surge barrier that has been designed for 20 inches of sea level rise, added sand to coastal areas, and deployed water storage and retention areas.
  • Improved river level management with dredging and widening of river banks, as well as allowing rivers to expand into pre-designated side channels and wetland areas.

Australia has made particular progress implementing adaptation actions related to water management. Most of the country has already experienced a decade-long drought and is facing decreasing water availability. As a result, Australians have taken dramatic actions to reduce water withdrawals, including:

  • Restructuring water rights by recognizing environmental water uses, separating access entitlements from land titles, and allowing water rights to be traded on a market.
  • Capping water diversions from important sources like the Murray Darling Basin, which is the source of the largest share of agricultural water use in Australia. [2]

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Least developed countries integrate adaptation into development plans

Map of Bangladesh that shows population per square mile within the LECZ and outside the LECZ. A large portion of the region inside the LECZ has population densities of more than 500 people per square kilometer, with about half of that land showing densities of more than 1,000 people per square kilometer. View enlarged image

Map of Bangladesh illustrating the country’s vulnerability to sea level rise due to the low elevation of coastal communities (within and outside a 10-meter low elevation coastal zone [LECZ]) and tropical cyclones. Source: NRC (2010) Exit EPA Disclaimer

Since Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have limited capacity to deal with climate change impacts and have identified adaptation as their top climate-change priority, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change established the Least-Developed Countries Fund. Exit EPA Disclaimer All 48 of the LDCs are completing National adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs) Exit EPA Disclaimer to identify the urgent and immediate needs to adapt to climate change. [3] NAPAs explicitly incorporate climate change into plans for agriculture, water, health, and capacity building. [2] Bangladesh provides an example of how countries are developing and implementing their NAPAs.

As a low-lying country with high population density and high poverty rates, Bangladesh is considered one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Bangladesh was one of the first countries to complete a NAPA, Exit EPA Disclaimer and has committed significant funding to develop and implement adaptation measures that focus on sea level rise and tropical cyclones. Adaptation measures in Bangladesh include:

  • Planting and restoring mangroves to provide a coastal buffer from storm surges, and constructing flood shelters and improving information dissemination to assist people in flood-prone areas.
  • Addressing impacts on its water supply by incorporating climate change considerations into its National Water Management Plan. [1]
  • Updating the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (PDF) Exit EPA Disclaimer to promote climate-resilient development in the country and integrating climate change education into secondary and tertiary curriculum.

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U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) prioritizes adaption

World map with a focus on Africa. Countries are shaded or outlined to indicate varying degree of acute food insecurity. Several countries in sub-Saharan Africa, East Africa, the middle east and central America face varying degrees of food insecurity - ranging from stressed to crisis to emergency to catastrophic/famine. The countries with emergency or catastrophic/famine ratings are around Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya. View enlarged image

Estimated food security conditions, 2nd Quarter 2013 (April-June 2013). Source: USAID (2013)

USAID is the principal U.S. agency to extend assistance to countries recovering from disaster, trying to overcome poverty, and engaging in democratic reforms. USAID has incorporated climate change adaptation into its mission and goals in many ways. For example:

  • USAID's climate change adaptation program assesses development projects to ensure that they can continue to function under future climate change.
  • In order to build resilience to climate change, USAID has developed a series of Adaptation Guidance Manuals and Case Studies to help development professionals assess vulnerability and design effective adaptation programs.
  • USAID provides climate-related information to help with early warning systems, (such as the Famine Early Warning System) and disaster response. [3]

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1. Adger, W.N., S. Agrawala, M.M.Q. Mirza, C. Conde, K. O'Brien, J. Pulhin, R. Pulwarty, B. Smit and K. Takahashi (2007). Assessment of adaptation practices, options, constraints and capacity. In Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability . Exit EPA Disclaimer Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden, and C.E. Hanson, (eds.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 717-743.

2. NRC (2010). Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change . Exit EPA Disclaimer National Research Council. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, USA.

3. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) . Exit EPA Disclaimer

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