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< prev - next > Environment and adaptation to climate change ESRC_briefing_paper_1 (Printable PDF)
Challenges of bottom up and top down
The challenge of strengthening integrated approaches in
policy and practice was addressed from two angles: how
to scale up project experience within government, and
how to ensure that international policy commitments are
translated into practice. The case from Nepal (op. cit.)
recognized the challenge of disjointed policy and practice
in government. This was tackled by building district
government capacity to support integrated analysis and
planning in communities, and incorporate the outcomes
into district development plans.
Oxley (p. 6) shared experience from grassroots
monitoring of implementation of the Hyogo Framework
for Action – an internationally agreed policy on national
support to disaster risk reduction. This multi-country
civil society process has had many benefits in terms of
improving downward accountability and opening spaces
for dialogue between communities and policy makers.
Similar methodologies could be applied to monitoring
policy commitments to supporting climate adaptation.
Integrated frameworks
Frameworks and approaches are evolving to help guide
staff, partners and policy makers towards more integrated
practice, and there is also a need for learning processes
to ensure they are effective.
The Adaptive Social Protection framework described
by Arnall et al. (p.7) brings together social protection,
DRR and CCA approaches to ensure that asset transfers
contribute to climate-resilient livelihoods. Ewbank (p.
8) articulates a set of steps developed by Christian Aid
for incorporating climate change analysis into existing
participatory vulnerability and capacity assessment,
drawing on both climate science and local knowledge
to inform risk assessment and develop future scenarios.
Practical Action’s Vulnerability to Resilience approach
(Pasteur, p. 9), rather than attempting to forecast an
uncertain future, highlights building communities’
capacity to adapt to a wide range of potential climate
outcomes. Through improved access to relevant
information, technologies, skills and resources, they
are able to modify livelihood strategies and respond to
changing disaster risks.
Twigg (p. 11) recognized that frameworks are useful
tools but that learning processes are also important
to ensure that they are adapted to local contexts.
Experience developing a set of Characteristics of a
Disaster Resilient Community produced lessons for more
process-oriented approaches.
The papers and workshop discussions demonstrated
strong agreement that integration of livelihoods, DRR and
CCA approaches has much to offer. However, challenges
still remain. Although scaling up of integrated thinking
into national planning systems was touched upon, it
remains a critical challenge. Frameworks and models of
good practice now exist amongst NGOs and researchers.
Building understanding, capacity and appropriate
structures for adoption within government and other
institutions is now a priority.
A further challenge is how to deal with the gap in
knowledge about the climate over the next 20 years.
Whilst short-term weather forecasts and long-term
climate predictions can be quite accurate, much
uncertainty lies between. Scenario planning is of
relevance when there is confidence about possible
outcomes. However, more work is needed to better
understand adaptive capacity, that is, the dynamic ability
to adapt to sometimes unpredictable change.
Finally, it was recognized during the seminar
that most practitioners were still working with the
expectation of reaching a climate agreement that would
limit us to a rise in global temperatures of less than 2
degrees centigrade. If this is not achieved, and global
temperatures rise to 4 degrees or more, with vastly
increased risks to livelihoods and ecosystems, then the
above approaches may not be sufficient to maintain
well-being and more radical strategies will need to be
Katherine Pasteur
Practical Action
Schumacher Centre for Technology and Development,
Bourton on Dunsmore,
Rugby CV23 9QZ, UK.
Climbing above the flood level in Bangladesh
See also
Details of the seminar including powerpoints and
sound recordings of presentations are available on the
Practical Action website at