Lessons learned from the NCAP project

Submitted by Tahia Devisscher Tejada | published 18th Apr 2011 | last updated 18th Apr 2011

Lessons learned from the NCAP project

Some of the main lessons learned from the NCAP project are:

  • Climate change is not the sole challenge that vulnerable communities in developing countries face.
  • Climate policies should be in line with the development policies of the countries. Adaptation should be an integral part of development not an add-on.
  • Adaptation should focus on resilience building at the community level, this is the first level of response.
  • Climate adaptation is part of a continuum (see Figure below).

 

The Adaptation Continuum

In trying to build a series of studies that link adaptation to poverty alleviation and development, particularly through Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRSPs), NCAP managed to drive the adaptation process forward reaching a point where issues of resilience in development processes began to arise. Interestingly enough, resilience success gives a positive feedback to questions of impacts and vulnerability, coming back to the initial starting point in climate adaptation.

From Vulnerability to Adaptation

  • Most vulnerable and livelihoods are the central focus to consider the political, ethical, and strategic options for adaptive action.
  • The shift from vulnerability to adaptation needs metrics of impacts that focus on the direct effects on community or household assets: what is at risk and how much is potentially lost.
  • Moving the debate from vulnerability assessments to adaptation requires the application of different set of tools and methodologies that allow for the integration of various pieces of information and concerns. The NCAP projects have used a range of methodologies and tools that focus on social learning, stakeholder consultation and participatory rural appraisals. There is no single methodology as there is a range of problems that need to be tackled.
  • The shift from vulnerability to adaptation requires the design and implementation of appropriate channels for linking data and information to the decision/policy making process.
  • Affecting the political and policy dimensions must be the ultimate test of efficacy of the vulnerability to adaptation process. Integrating the outputs obtained in the project (suitable adaptation initiatives) in political and policy dynamics requires engaging politicians through lobbying, mobilizing public support through information campaigns and steering the attention of powerful ministries (i.e., finance ministry, planning ministry) towards these outputs.

Adaptation and Development

  • The consequences of an adaptation strategy may influence and affect sectoral policies, livelihoods and so on. Therefore, adaptation strategies should be integrated into a broader context of development.
  • Transition from impact to vulnerability assessments and then to adaptation, is a critical step in moving economies and livelihoods towards more resilient positions.
  • A successful adaptation-development agenda could substantially reduce the cost of emergency disaster assistance. Self-reliance realised through effective pre-disaster and adaptation planning, as an integral part of development and aimed at capacity building for the most vulnerable, is a more effective means of disaster risk reduction.
  • Integrating adaptation into development planning broadens the metric of impact beyond direct effects (e.g., economic damages, lives lost) to health, social and economic effects (e.g., morbidity, livelihood security, economic investment and growth). the impacts of climate extremes such as droughts, floods and heat waves are measured not only by how much is lost but also by the effects on development and livelihoods.
  • Climate factors are not the only factors that stress subsistence systems. Issues of markets, subsidies, access and cultural norms add to the challenge of assuring food security and alleviating poverty.
  • To facilitate interactions and interplay between development and adaptation both bottom-up and top-down approaches are needed. Both approaches highlight the fact that adaptation is a multi-scale process that can interact with development efforts at different levels.
  • While linking adaptation and development, it is important to analyse both primary and off-farm non-primary production activities, as off-farm income is critical to livelihoods and overall adaptive capacity.
  • Integration of adaptation measures needs to nest within national socio-economic considerations. To make progress in this regard, cross-sectoral analysis is necessary to assess the interactions of multiple adaptation strategies and their implications in national development policies. This fully integrated approach is the most effective means of minimising maladaptation, where actions in one sector can have negative impacts in another.

Development to Resilience

  • Resilience building focuses on improving coping mechanisms and the capacity to recover from disruptive events.
  • The key characteristics of enquiry are to improve coping mechanisms across a range of traditional and modern adaptation technologies, together with an analysis of community and socially centred bounce-back structures that ensure recovery and continuation of the development trajectory.
  • Validation of the change to a development-to-resilience paradigm requires evidence that the negative impacts of adverse weather events and climate trends have been significantly reduced.
  • Resilience is achieved most successfully when both natural biological and social systems' diversity are maintained and enhanced. Together these processes will help in building livelihood capitals and entitlements. But the processes must be realised through negotiation. Negotiation should be seen as transparent and be led by the recipient. Imposed solutions will not work.
  • Improving coping mechanisms needs appropriate information sets, knowledge of the range, effect and cost of adaptation technologies (both modern and traditional), and access to technologies.
  • An enabling and learning environment for knowledge-based activities is fundamental to promote social resilience across a range of scales. Social learning requires reflecting upon experience and considering individual's values and interest in the process of cognition and action.
  • Resilience building requires a positive feedback process that reduces impact.
  • The underpinning of resilience planning for adaptation includes sustainable development, risk avoidance, least cost intervention, organizational and social learning, and exploring environmental surprises and tipping points that lead to catastrophic change that moves systems beyond the limits in which resilience can affect a recovery.
  • Resilience planning should be normalised as part of the development process as an issue of social justice. In that sense, it must be not considered as an add-on effort and the impacts of resilience planning must be measurable.

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