Human-induced climate change continues to alter the world’s climate patterns, leading to more frequent and intense extreme weather events alongside gradual shifts in global temperature and ecosystems. Prompt adaptation measures are crucial as climate change accelerates, making it increasingly challenging and costly to address the consequences effectively.
Adaptation involves a diverse range of adjustments within ecological, social, and economic systems to counteract or capitalise on the impacts of climate change. From fortifying against floods and cyclones to adopting drought-resistant crops, adaptation strategies must align with the needs and contexts of communities, businesses, and nations. While numerous nations and communities have already embarked on resilience-building initiatives, enhanced efforts and collective ambition are imperative to manage risks both now and in the future proactively.
Recognising that effective adaptation is a collective responsibility, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) encourages the active participation of various stakeholders, including governments, organisations, civil society, and indigenous communities. Acknowledging the issue’s complexity, the UNFCCC underscores the importance of a comprehensive, participatory, and science-guided approach to adaptation, considering the vulnerabilities of diverse groups and ecosystems.
Moreover, the UNFCCC has laid the groundwork for advancing adaptation responses and bolstering societal and environmental resilience through various bodies and workstreams. The Global Goal on Adaptation, launched during COP 26 in 2021, outlines a pathway for global efforts to strengthen adaptive capacity and reduce vulnerabilities associated with climate change.
Despite adaptation efforts, some irreversible impacts persist, underscoring the notion of loss and damage beyond what adaptation alone can address. The Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, established during COP 19, serves as a crucial platform within the UNFCCC process, facilitating knowledge exchange and coordinated action to mitigate and address climate change-induced loss and damage, particularly in vulnerable developing countries.
Enshrined in Article 8 of the Paris Agreement, a comprehensive approach to averting, minimising, and addressing loss and damage is highlighted, emphasising the importance of sustainable development in risk reduction. The Agreement emphasises key areas of cooperation, such as early warning systems, emergency preparedness, non-economic losses, and the resilience of communities and ecosystems, acknowledging the complexities of irreversible impacts and the need for sustainable solutions.
While limiting global warming can significantly reduce projected losses and damages, the latest scientific assessments stress that even with robust adaptation measures, eliminating all repercussions may not be possible. Thus, fostering adaptive and resilient communities remains a critical priority in our collective efforts to navigate the challenges of an ever-evolving climate landscape. Read more on Adaptation and Loss and Damage here. (nsh)