Full menu of options needed for climate change adaptation — ADB

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Asian Development Bank (ADB)

COMMUNITIES need to be able to make informed decisions about their options in response to climate change, according to a research paper from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

“While adaptation is typically understood to be a problem of environmental tipping points, this study highlights the need to reframe adaptation as a matter of choice, based on the affected population’s outlook on their own future,” according to the paper, “Rethinking the Limits of Climate Change Adaptation.”

“At-risk communities should be able to decide for themselves the best way to adapt to climate change, given their own contexts and resources,” it added.

The study noted that communities in Tubigon, Bohol have remained on the island despite several typhoons since the earthquake of 2013 and a four-month drought in 2016.

“Still, the communities of Tubigon were able to adapt and continue to live on the islands. Overall, these experiences indicate that extreme events also may not be sufficient to breach the limits of adaptation,” the study said, noting that these communities made adjustments by acquiring rainwater collectors or importing water from the mainland.

Residents also built new houses on stilts, elevated roads, and improved protections against high waves by constructing revetments or planting mangroves, according to the study.

The study also noted that the Tubigon local government also provided options such as employment elsewhere, indirectly encouraging a natural population decline in the community.

It said Tubigon highlights the need for various adaptation strategies and exploring new ones.

It said the local government has also become proactive in securing national funding for road elevation projects and curbing coral mining.

“In particular, in situ strategies should be able to address climate and disaster risks, while promoting socioeconomic development at the same time so as to increase the overall adaptive capacity. In so doing, in situ strategies also can enable planned relocation, allowing island communities to move if, when and where they choose to, avoiding the risk of sudden disaster-induced displacement, and minimizing the constraints posed by long-standing socioeconomic issues,” the study concluded.

“…to be able to make an informed choice, the communities need to have full awareness of the various adaptation options that are available to them and a proper understanding of the risks involved in continuing to live on the islands, as well as in moving to other locations. Still, more importantly, the communities need to be empowered by promoting sustainable development as a means of building adaptive capacity,” according to the study. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio