Effective adaptation planning means understanding changes and responding to them.

Adaptation planning is a process of adjustment to the impacts of climate change, including actions taken to reduce the negative impacts of climate change, or to take advantage of emerging opportunities.

Good adaptation planning should lead to meaningful action.

As our knowledge of climate change improves we can pursue stronger adaptation. Adaptation planning should be based on evidence which can then inform a set of priorities and actions. This evidence might relate to climate change impacts, vulnerabilities and risks but should also account for the needs of different stakeholders, and the capacity of those who will implement the plan.

Strong adaptation plans are responsive to national and regional context.

Good adaptation planning provides a platform for implementation by ensuring that activities fit within a broader set of established objectives. In the Pacific, National Adaptation Plans and Joint National Action Plans (NAPs/JNAPs) are critical in framing each countries adaptation priorities. There are a wide range of resources to support the NAP development process including through the NAP Global Network.

APT Diagram

Principles of Good Adaptation Planning

Understand It

  • Risk management focuses on identifying and assessing risks, and managing those risks to minimise impact.
  • Risk is a combination of a the nature of the hazard, likelihood of exposure, and vulnerability of who or what is being impacted.
  • Perception of risk is subjective, and climate risk is linked to environmental, social and economic context.
  • Different communities, ecosystems and sectors are affected differently by climate change. The same climate change impacts may affect communities, ecosystems and sectors very differently.
  • It is important to ensure that planning considers future climate change impacts, as well as those already being experienced.

Resources on Understanding Climate Risk

Take Action

  • Prioritise risk and focus on actions to manage priority climate risks (i.e. impacts being experienced now vs. issues requiring long term planning).
  • In planning for adaptation, ensure you work in partnership with all relevant stakeholders, to promote ownership and transparency.
  • Consider different types adaptation responses i.e. soft, hard or ecosystem-based.
  • Understand that some adaptation options may bring benefits, but also disadvantages – strong planning can help minimise these disadvantages and help to communicate how actions have been prioritised.
  • Uncertainty is a part of adaptation planning - we cannot know exactly what will happen, but we can plan for events that we are more certain about.
  • Avoid actions that prevent or limit future adaptation options or restrict the ability of others to adapt.

Resources on Planning Adaptation Actions

Be Flexible

  • Use adaptive management to cope with uncertainty. A 'phased' approach in steps will build flexibility and resilience in your planning.
  • Make effective use of monitoring and evaluation data when planning to ensure your ability to respond to new information about climate change impacts and changing vulnerabilities and risks.
  • Frame and communicate specific, measurable, achievable, results oriented, and time-bound objectives before starting out.
  • Continually reviewing the effectiveness, efficiency, equity and legitimacy of your adaptation plans.
  • Avoid actions that prevent or limit future adaptation options or restrict the ability of others to adapt.
  • Developing a'Theory of Change' can be useful for illustrating the logic of your planning process and checking whether assumptions remain valid.

Resources on Adaptive Project Management