Globally, it’s clear that individuals and households are at the forefront of climate change adaptation efforts, but there’s a notable lack of systematic collaboration among the various affected groups. This conclusion comes from a meta-study conducted by an international team of experts from Universität Hamburg’s Cluster of Excellence for climate research (CLICCS) and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU), which was recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
The study, involving 30 authors, delved into more than 1,400 academic studies on climate change adaptation. Their research presents the first global overview of who is involved in adaptation and how they are doing it.
The key takeaway is that there is a lack of cohesion in the global efforts to address climate change impacts. There’s a shortage of comprehensive concepts aimed at better preparing societies, infrastructures, and risk management for climate change. Moreover, there’s a significant absence of extensive collaboration between governmental and non-governmental actors.
Dr. Kerstin Jantke, an environmental researcher at Universität Hamburg’s Cluster of Excellence CLICCS and a co-author of the study, highlights the isolated and uncoordinated nature of climate change adaptation. She emphasizes the urgency of the climate challenge and the need for more integrated efforts.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Jan Petzold, stresses the importance of involving a broad range of groups at all levels for successful and forward-thinking adaptation. While individuals and households, particularly in the Global South, are actively adapting to climate change impacts, they often operate independently from institutional frameworks. There’s also a divide between urban and rural areas, with government actors typically coordinating adaptation in cities.
Governments often play a role in ratifying, planning, and financing adaptation measures, but the practical implementation is largely carried out by small households, especially in rural regions. Surprisingly, the private sector’s involvement in adaptation efforts is minimal, and the scientific community’s participation is limited.
Petzold points out that if individuals, like farmers and smallholders, are the ones primarily responsible for adaptation, it underscores the lack of cooperation between different actor groups, which is essential for sustainable adaptation projects. Coordinated concepts are crucial for comprehensive initiatives, such as reconfiguring forests for climate resilience, converting farmlands into floodplains, planning new urban infrastructures, and relocating coastal communities.
Furthermore, involving various actor groups can help prevent unintended consequences of adaptation measures. For instance, a measure designed to address one problem may worsen another, as in the case of flood protection infrastructure that harms coastlines and wetlands, leading to reduced biodiversity and compromised natural CO2 sinks.
As a solution, it’s proposed that comprehensive measures align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure that they provide long-term, sustainable solutions.
Source: University of Hamburg