Adaptation to climate change is a journey we must all take: our peoples, our economy, and our government. But like ‘evolve’ and ‘prosper’, ‘adapt’ has a different meaning depending on who you are. If we do this properly, adapting to climate change will improve our quality of life, supporting both the economy and the environment.
Adaptation is the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects. In human systems, adaptation seeks to moderate or avoid harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In some natural systems, human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects.
If on the other hand we do this badly, or not engage it, many of our people will find things much harder, our economy will shrink, and we will be further out-competed by our international competitors and partners.
PEOPLES and COMMUNITIES
Dogma has no place in adaptation processes, instead the solutions need to be jointly designed by communities and decision makers. Particularly those communities who are the most vulnerable to climate change but may have the weakest voice need to be heard and considered.
Together, we have the potential to remake our society for our children. For example, more people in healthier houses and environments means lower healthcare costs, (aka lower taxes), lower energy costs, increases in productivity and personal wealth, increases in employability, increases in cultural well-being. If done well the adaptation process is likely to result in increasing social justice and social equity. There is a lot to play for here, for government, business, and communities.
Communities and peoples write and own their own stories, and also form their own futures. Many communities formed at a time when climate change was not something that was seen as related to where we lived. Others have been started more recently however, regardless there is a strong human association to place and we must regard at risk communities with compassion and respect, they did not choose for climate change to happen: it is not the fault of the residents that they live where they do. In terms of climate threatened communities, it may be that life in those places will get harder, or possibly their children will not be able to live in some of those places. Current information indicates that it is only the last resort to move people, we are in transition and the path is not yet clear.
The first stage of thinking about the situation of a community is to assess what the risks and vulnerabilities actually are, and their timescale. It has been suggested that communities develop their own plans, and the role of local government is to negotiate with communities to knit their plans together to form a regionally coherent plan, see Figure below.
Figure: Communities and Local Government negotiate on the Community Built Adaptation Strategy to get an Agreed adaptation Strategy.
As an organization BOEE can talk to communities and local government to help facilitate outcomes acceptable to both.