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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Adaptation and Risk Management

Roger Jones and I recently published a paper in WIREs Climate Change* that reviews the state-of-play with respect to risk management approaches to climate change.

Abstract
Adaptation assessment methods are compatible with the international risk management standard ISO:31000. Risk management approaches are increasingly being recommended for adaptation assessments at both national and local levels. Two orientations to assessments can commonly be identified: top‐down and bottom‐up, and prescriptive and diagnostic. Combinations of these orientations favor different types of assessments. The choice of orientation can be related to uncertainties in prediction and taking action, in the type of adaptation and in the degree of system stress. Adopting multiple viewpoints is to be encouraged, especially in complex situations. The bulk of current guidance material is consistent with top‐down and predictive approaches, thus is most suitable for risk scoping and identification. A broad range of material from within and beyond the climate change literature can be used to select methods to be used in assessing and implementing adaptation. The framing of risk, correct formulation of the questions being investigated and assessment methodology are critical aspects of the scoping phase. Only when these issues have been addressed should be issue of specific methods and tools be addressed. The reorientation of adaptation from an assessment focused solely on anthropogenic climate change to broader issues of vulnerability/resilience, sustainable development and disaster risk, especially through a risk management framework, can draw from existing policy and management understanding in communities, professions and agencies, incorporating existing agendas, knowledge, risks, and issues they already face.

*Jones RN, Preston BL (2011) Adaptation and Risk Management. WIREs Climate Change, DOI: 10.1002/wcc.97

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