Conference Paper

Harnessing nature to help people adapt to climate change: Identifying global high-priority areas for coastal ecosystem-based adaptation

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

Background/Question/Methods Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) – targeted ecosystem management, conservation, and restoration that will help people adapt to climate change – has the potential to both protect biodiversity and reduce the impacts of climate change. For example, restoring and/or conserving mangroves protects coastal communities from tropical storms (because mangroves dissipate storm surge energy) and also protects the associated biodiversity of mangrove ecosystems. As funding for adaptation is limited, opportunities for EbA need to be compared directly to hard-engineering approaches (e.g. sea walls) for feasibility, benefit/cost ratio, and resilience under uncertainty. However, opportunities for EbA to provide adaptation benefits have rarely been examined in a spatially explicit manner. We identified high-priority areas for coastal EbA both globally and regionally. We defined high-priority areas for EbA as those that have intact and potentially restorable mangroves and/or coral reefs. First, we identified where people are most vulnerable to climate change by creating a composite map of where exposure to climate change is highest, sensitivity of communities is greatest, and adaptive capacity is lowest. We then overlaid the vulnerability map with the current extent of mangroves and coral reefs and maps of threats to both ecosystems to visualize locations with the highest potential to benefit from EbA. Results/Conclusions When the data are viewed globally, coastal areas in Southeast Asia such as Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines both are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts and have intact and potentially restorable coastal ecosystems that could help protect them from climate-induced sea-level rise and tropical storms. Bangladesh, India, Madagascar, Honduras, Cuba, and Haiti also have particularly vulnerable coastal populations where coastal ecosystems can be managed and/or protected and/or restored to ensure adaptation benefits continue to be delivered as climate change proceeds. We also identified specific sub-regions in each of The World Bank’s global regions for high EbA prioritization. Our methodology is a beneficial starting point for adaptation planners to visualize and identify places where further examination could help pinpoint areas for strategic investment in EbA and gives an alternative to the drawbacks of the widely used hard engineering adaptation strategies. This is an important advancement because EbA has great potential to address adaptation needs of people, while simultaneously protecting ecosystems into the future.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... Specifically, we investigate the diffusion of one specific adaptive practice in reaction to 206 extreme weather: infrastructure enhancement geared toward raising the organizational resilience 207 against extreme weather risks. Infrastructure enhancement is a type of "hard" adaptation based 208 on techno-engineering interventions to reduce potential climate impacts (Jones et al., 2012). 209 ...
Article
Full-text available
This study advances theory articulating the micro-level processes behind public organization adaptation to extreme weather. It tackles a persistent puzzle about the limited adaptation to extreme weather among public organizations: why does adaptation remain limited after public organizations have experienced repeated extreme weather and some catastrophic consequences? We develop a computational agent-based model that integrates extant theory and data from semi-structured interviews of U.S. public transit agency managers, and use the model to investigate how micro-level cognition and behavior interact with environmental constraints to facilitate or impede the diffusion of adaptation. We articulate in greater detail how experience with influential extreme weather events matters to adaptation, highlighting that such experience is insufficient for adaptation to occur. A key insight is that the potential benefits from both increased risk perception and additional financial resources stemming from disaster- or non-disaster-induced opportunities can be underutilized, absent effective coupling between heightened risk perception and availability of resources that creates windows for adaptation. Using this insight, we further identify managerial and policy interventions with maximum leverage to promote adaptation to extreme weather in public organizations. The experiments find that slowing the decay in risk perception and synchronizing opportunities with extreme weather occurrences can stimulate adaptation. Keywords: Extreme weather; Public organization adaptation; Climate change adaptation; Resilience; Agent-based model; Coupling
Article
Full-text available
Alongside the use of fertilizer and chemical control of weeds, pests, and diseases modern breeding has been very successful in generating cultivars that have increased agricultural production several fold in favorable environments. These typically homogeneous cultivars (either homozygous inbreds or hybrids derived from inbred parents) are bred under optimal field conditions and perform well when there is sufficient water and nutrients. However, such optimal conditions are rare globally; indeed, a large proportion of arable land could be considered marginal for agricultural production. Marginal agricultural land typically has poor fertility and/or shallow soil depth, is subject to soil erosion, and often occurs in semi-arid or saline environments. Moreover, these marginal environments are expected to expand with ongoing climate change and progressive degradation of soil and water resources globally. Crop wild relatives (CWRs), most often used in breeding as sources of biotic resistance, often also possess traits adapting them to marginal environments. Wild progenitors have been selected over the course of their evolutionary history to maintain their fitness under a diverse range of stresses. Conversely, modern breeding for broad adaptation has reduced genetic diversity and increased genetic vulnerability to biotic and abiotic challenges. There is potential to exploit genetic heterogeneity, as opposed to genetic uniformity, in breeding for the utilization of marginal lands. This review discusses the adaptive traits that could improve the performance of cultivars in marginal environments and breeding strategies to deploy them.
Article
Full-text available
In recent years there has been a growing number of academic reviews discussing the theme of transformation and its association with adaptation to climate change. On the one hand this has stimulated exchange of ideas and perspectives on the parameters of transformation, but it has also given rise to confusion in terms of identifying what constitutes a non-incremental form of adaptation on the ground. What this article aims to do instead is help researchers and practitioners relate different interpretations of transformation to practice by proposing a typological framework for categorising forms of change that focuses on mechanisms and objectives. It then discusses how these categorisations link to the broader conceptions and critiques noted above, with the idea that this will enable those who seek to analyse or plan adaptation to better analyse what types of action are potentially constitutive of transformation. In doing so, it should equally assist in the identification and specification of critical questions that need to be asked of such activity in relation to issues of sustainability and equity.
Article
Full-text available
Electric vehicles have a potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions but still face challenges. This study asks what can be learned from the US automobile history. In 1900, there were three equal contenders in the US automotive industry: gasoline, electric and steam cars. Only a decade later, the gasoline car had achieved a crushing dominance. This dominance is often attributed to techno-economic factors, such as an innate inferiority of electric cars. Meanwhile, the role of the infrastructures is not well understood. This study presents evidence on the mechanisms behind the rise of gasoline vehicles, using a database of more than 36,000 passenger car models. We estimated econometric models to explain the technology choice of car producers, which show that the slow expansion of electricity infrastructure had a key impact. We estimate that a 15 or 20 year earlier diffusion of electricity grids would have tipped the balance in favour of electric vehicles, most notably in metropolitan areas. In the context of the current climate crisis, the results support the notion that large-scale investment in infrastructure is critical to achieve sustainable socio-technological transitions.
Article
Full-text available
Adaptation needs in high mountain communities are increasingly well documented, yet most efforts to address these needs continue to befall mountain people who have contributed little to the problem of climate change. This situation represents a contravention of accepted norms of climate justice and calls attention to the need for better understanding of prospects for externally resourced adaptation initiatives in high mountain areas. In response, this paper examines the architecture of formal adaptation support mechanisms organized through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and how such mechanisms might help to meet adaptation needs in high mountain communities. It outlines key global adaptation initiatives organized through the UNFCCC, clarifies idealized linkages between these global adaptation initiatives and meeting local adaptation needs, and evaluates actual progress in connecting such support with discrete adaptation needs in the upper Manaslu region of Nepal. The paper then critically examines observed shortcomings in matching adaptation support organized through the UNFCCC with local adaptation needs, including complications stemming from the bureaucratic nature of formal adaptation support mechanisms, the intervening role of the state in delivering aid, and the ways in which these complexities intersect with the specific socio-cultural contexts of mountain communities. It concludes by highlighting several prospects for increasing the quantity and quality of adaptation support to mountain communities. These opportunities are considered alongside several salient concerns about formal adaptation support mechanisms in an effort to provide a well-rounded assessment of the prospects for planned adaptations in high mountain communities.
Chapter
This introduction lays out the context of the “Urbanocene” within which the current book project locates its relevance. Arguing from the conviction that each city has its own narrative, it explains why it is significant to capture urban micro-political processes across long-term temporal scales by unveiling dominant, counter, and suppressed urban environmental narratives. The empirical context of Kolkata’s “blue infrastructures” is described in detail, including the conceptualization of the phrase itself across its technical, historical, and social dimensions, based on findings derived by combining archival and qualitative research methodologies. The historical urban political ecology (HUPE) framework, cross-fertilizing urban environmental history and urban political ecology, is formulated and introduced. The chapter establishes why HUPE can be considered a robust and comprehensive framework and methodological intervention for capturing urban environmental realities across multiple dimensions. The summary of chapters, which elaborate the application of HUPE to Kolkata’s “blue infrastructures,” demonstrates the relevance of the HUPE framework and its potentials to be implemented at scale.
Article
Full-text available
This article aims to contribute to the literature on the quest for resilient cities by focusing on the climate change resilience building discourse in peri-urban areas, and specifically by exploring the role of social capital-an under-researched topic. The article examines bonding social capital and bridging social capital, with a focus on how they can potentially contribute to, or inhibit, the socio-ecological system resilience building processes in the context of climate change reality in peri-urban areas. Theoretically, the author draws on the existing social capital and resilience related literatures; empirically, the article presents findings from a study conducted in the peri-urban areas of Pugu and Kazimzumbwi forest reserves on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam city in Tanzania. The study deployed a household survey and key informant interviews. It found that both bonding and bridging social capital were strong in the research area, suggesting the feasibility of building resilience to climate change effects. Examples are given of a number of resilience building interventions that were established through synergies between social capital actors and local communities, although some doubt is cast over the sustainability of these initiatives. Overall, both theoretical and empirical evidence suggests the importance of including a focus on social capital in exploring the building of climate change resilience pathways in peri-urban areas, and especially in the context of the global south.
Chapter
Relocation from coastal areas is a huge challenge for communities vulnerable to the impacts of climate change induced inundation. This study focuses on Vunisavisavi Village in Fiji, where severe coastal erosion and frequent inundation events have increased to such an extent that relocation is the only feasible option remaining. This paper explores the social and cultural challenges faced by Vunisavisavi villagers in relocation, with an emphasis on the extent to which place attachment acts as a barrier for relocation. The paper summarizes the findings from individual and focus group interviews of Vunisavisavi villagers. The research findings provide an insight into the existing adaptation patterns of the villagers and recommends an early intervention in assessing the vulnerability of communities to ensure that best adaptation strategies are implemented.
Article
Full-text available
There is growing awareness that ‘nature-based solutions' (NbS) can help to protect us from climate change impacts while slowing further warming, supporting biodiversity and securing ecosystem services. However, the potential of NbS to provide the intended benefits has not been rigorously assessed. There are concerns over their reliability and cost-effectiveness compared to engineered alternatives, and their resilience to climate change. Trade-offs can arise if climate mitigation policy encourages NbS with low biodiversity value, such as afforestation with non-native monocultures. This can result in maladaptation, especially in a rapidly changing world where biodiversity-based resilience and multi-functional landscapes are key. Here, we highlight the rise of NbS in climate policy—focusing on their potential for climate change adaptation as well as mitigation—and discuss barriers to their evidence-based implementation. We outline the major financial and governance challenges to implementing NbS at scale, highlighting avenues for further research. As climate policy turns increasingly towards greenhouse gas removal approaches such as afforestation, we stress the urgent need for natural and social scientists to engage with policy makers. They must ensure that NbS can achieve their potential to tackle both the climate and biodiversity crisis while also contributing to sustainable development. This will require systemic change in the way we conduct research and run our institutions. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Climate change and ecosystems: threats, opportunities and solutions’.
Article
Full-text available
The literature on climate adaptation has so far conceptualized it as a domestic issue, to be governed somewhere between the local and the national scale. By contrast, scholars have shown little interest in exploring the case of cross-boundary adaptation spillovers, where adaptation by one country affects other countries. Two decades of the economic literature on climate mitigation may contribute to bridge this research gap because the problem structure of climate mitigation resembles that of adaptation with cross-boundary spillovers. With this in mind, we ask the following research question: Are there lessons to be learned by applying a mitigation perspective to the governance of adaptation with cross-boundary spillovers? After reviewing the relevant adaptation and mitigation literature, the paper applies mitigation insights to an adaptation case with cross-boundary spillovers: climate change-induced eutrophication in the Baltic Sea. Insights on coalition structures, side-payments, issue-linkage, and trade sanctions provide novel perspectives on the governance structures in place. To improve cooperation on providing adaptation as a public good, smaller regional governance arrangements could be more effective, European subsidies for pollution control might be redirected, and progress on eutrophication could be made a precondition for cooperation on other areas. These perspectives depart both from the way the Baltic Sea eutrophication problem is addressed at present, and from the way public goods are addressed in the adaptation literature. They show that some lessons can indeed be learned, calling for further research.
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Urban buildings and parks play an important role in regulating urban climate and ecosystem services. Diurnal air temperature range (DTRa) of rocklike buildings is commonsensically regarded as higher due to no latent heat from evapotranspiration and its smaller thermal inertia compared to wet soil. Therefore, the building DTRa is supposed to be higher than that of parks due to its building fabric. However, we found an opposite phenomenon (smaller building DTRa than that of parks), and the underlying mechanisms explaining this phenomenon are unclear. Here we conducted, in Beijing (China), a long‐term observational campaign of standard meteorological variables and radiation/energy fluxes to provide a new valuable evidence (a part of external energy) to explain this phenomenon. The observations indicated external heat energies from horizontal advection and anthropogenic heat sources. We found a significantly lower building DTRa than that of parks (ΔDTRa =2.53±1.93 °C), with a maximum difference of 3.54±1.96 °C in autumn; which was mainly attributed to higher daily minimum air temperature. We also found the large differences in air temperature contribution between the buildings and the parks happened mainly at night. The external heat sources of the building contributed 16.71% to the nighttime air temperature, which was higher than that of the parks (8.39%). The more indoor and outdoor anthropogenic heat sources in the building footprints were the major cause of the slower decrease in Tmin. The comparison between buildings and parks can be extensively applied to analyzing the effects of urbanization on climate.
Article
Full-text available
While ecosystems-based adaptation (EbA) has been received with great interest, the requirements for EbA implementation and its precise benefits under future climate change are unclear. Furthermore, EbA’s overlap with environmental, and development policy agendas leads to ambiguity regarding what actions fall under the rubric of EbA. We analyze the projects identified by the UNFCCC as examples of EbA to understand how EbA is conceptualized and promoted by the international community. Addressing climate change is the primary objective of 58% of the EbA projects; the other 42% of projects provide adaptation benefits yet are not primarily driven by climate change. A project’s adaptation targeting is tied to its information needs. Projects whose primary objective is to address climate change are more likely to use detailed climate projections than projects whose primary objective is to address natural hazards, development or ecosystems degradation. A majority of projects do not address uncertainty in future climate change or in adaptation benefits, nor do they track adaptation outcomes. This prevalent lack of monitoring highlights the possibility of a gap between expected and realized adaptation outcomes. It also represents a lost opportunity for improving knowledge of the thresholds of effectiveness of EbA and of factors influencing EbA efficacy.
Article
Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) is increasingly being promoted as a cost-effective means of adaptation to climate change. However, in spite of considerable international press, there is still little evidence to substantiate this claim. This study proposes a method through which the cost-effectiveness of EbA strategies can be evaluated against alternative adaptation options, and contributes to South African literature on the subject. The potential cost-effectiveness of wetland restoration is assessed as a means of securing the carrying capacity of land for pastoralist communities of the Kamiesberg communal area in South Africa under projected future climate conditions. The conventional alternatives would be to respond to increasingly dry conditions by drilling boreholes and using supplemental feed for livestock. It was assumed that the EbA interventions would occur upfront, whereas the alternatives are more likely to be implemented in reaction to droughts over a longer time period. The study found the implementation of conventional alternatives to be more cost-effective than EbA as a means to sustaining livestock stocking rates, with EbA being twice as costly. However, this is framed from the perspective of those directly affected (the landowners), and does not include the benefits to broader society.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.