Synergies between Adaptation and Mitigation

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The main difference between adaptation and mitigation lies in the objective that each option pursues. While mitigation focuses on the causes of climate change by decreasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere or enhancing the sinks of greenhouse gases, adaptation addresses the impacts of climate change through an ‘adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities’ (IPCC 2001). 

In the past, both mitigation and adaptation have evolved along different pathways. However, addressing climate change challenges through only one lens (either mitigation or adaptation) can lead to trade-offs and one could undermine the other. Even if strong efforts are put on mitigation, the climate will still continue changing in future decades; hence, adaptation efforts are also greatly needed. But if the focus is only on adaptation, all the negative impacts will not necessarily be reduced, so mitigation actions are also needed to limit changes in the climate system (Klein et al, 2007; Locatelli, 2011).

Great potential exists for creating synergies between mitigation and adaptation and implementing climate policy options in a more cost-effective way. Some progress has been made in this regard. This initiative aims to capture experience and evidence related to the co-benefits of adaptation and mitigation in the areas of low carbon development, climate-smart agriculture, water-energy-land nexus, bioenergy, blue carbon and so on.

There may be value in looking at synergies in similar processes and/or shared stakeholders. Illman et al. (2013) highlights the similarities in processes and capacities (‘behind’ adaptation and mitigation measures) as key areas where synergies could be identified and harnessed. In many cases, synergies are examined in a broader sustainable development context and reference is often made to developing adaptive and mitigative or even response capacity, climate compatible development, reducing vulnerabilities, seeking co-benefits with development policy and enabling sustainable livelihoods.

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IPCC 2001. Climate Change 2001. Synthesis report. Cambridge University Press.

Klein, R.J.T., S. Huq, F. Denton, T.E. Downing, R.G. Richels, J.B. Robinson, F.L. Toth, 2007: Inter-relationships between adaptation and mitigation. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. 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, 745-777.

Locatelli, B. 2011. Synergies between adaptation and mitigation in a nutshell. CIFOR.

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I am happy to join your theme and looking forward to having

a wonderful discourse in this field. Best wishes.

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Participating Organisations


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Liz Daniels

Research Fellow at Stockholm Environment Institute
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Irene Karani

360 - climate adaptation.


uasin gishu COUNTY CHAIR
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Rosa Vásquez Rodríguez

at La Ruta del Clima
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Svenja Enge

Student Assistant at TransRe
360 - climate adaptation.

Francesca Campagnoli

Sustainability and Carbon Reduction Officer
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Charlotte King

International Communications
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María José Gutiérrez

Climate change and sustainability consultant
360 - climate adaptation.

Bernard Soubry

at University of Oxford
360 - climate adaptation.

Executive Director

at Climate Adaptation Scholars (TM)


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