Impacts and adaptation in the context of multiple stresses

20.3.1 A catalogue of multiple stresses

The current literature shows a growing appreciation of the multiple stresses that ecological and socio-economic systems face, how those stresses are likely to change over the next several decades, and what some of the net environmental consequences are likely to be. The Pilot Analysis of Global Ecosystems prepared by the World Resources Institute (WRI, 2000) conducted literature reviews to document the state and condition of forests, agro-ecosystems, freshwater ecosystems and marine systems. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) comprehensively documented the condition and recent trends of ecosystems, the services they provide and the socio-economic context within which they occur. It also provided several scenarios of possible future conditions (MA, 2005). For reference, the MA offered some startling statistics. Cultivated systems covered 25% of Earth's terrestrial surface in 2000. On the way to achieving this coverage, global agricultural enterprises converted more area to cropland between 1950 and 1980 than in the 150 years between 1700 and 1850. As of the year 2000, 35% of the world's mangrove areas and 20% of the world's coral reefs had been lost (with another 20% having been degraded significantly). Since 1960, withdrawals from rivers and lakes have doubled, flows of biologically available nitrogen in terrestrial ecosystems have doubled, and flows of phosphorus have tripled. At least 25% of major marine fish stocks have been overfished and global fish yields have actually begun to decline. MA (2005) identified major changes in land cover, the consequences of which were explored by Foley et al. (2005).

The MA (2005) recognised two different categories of drivers of change. Direct drivers of ecosystem change affect ecosystem characteristics in specific, quantifiable ways; examples include land-cover and land-use change, climate change and species introductions. Indirect drivers affect ecosystems in a more diffuse way, generally by affecting one or more direct drivers; here examples are demographic changes, socio-political changes and economic changes. Both types of drivers have changed substantially in the past few decades and will continue to do so. Among direct drivers, for example, over the past four decades, food production has increased by 150%, water use has doubled, wood harvests for pulp and paper have tripled, timber production has doubled and installed hydropower capacity has doubled. On the indirect side, global population has doubled since the 1960s to reach 6 billion people while the global economy has increased more than six fold.

Table 20.1 documents expectations for how several of the direct drivers of ecosystem change are likely to change in magnitude and importance over time. With the exception of polar regions, coastal ecosystems, some dryland systems and montane regions, climate change is not, today, a major source of stress; but climate change is the only direct driver whose magnitude and importance to a series of regions, ecosystems and resources is likely to continue to grow over the next several decades. Table 20.1 illustrates the degree to which these ecosystems are currently experiencing stresses from several direct drivers of change simultaneously. It shows that potential interactions with climate change are likely to grow over the next few decades with the magnitude of climate change itself.

20.3.2 Factors that support sustainable development

A brief excursion into some of the recent literature on economic development is sufficient to support the fundamental observation that the factors that determine a country's ability to promote (sustainable) development coincide with the factors that influence adaptive capacity relative to climate change, climate variability and climatic extremes. The underlying prerequisites for sustainability in specific contexts are highlighted in italics in the discussion which follows. The point about coincidence in underlying factors is made by matching the terms in italics with the list of determinants of adaptive capacity identified above (Chapter 17, Section 17.3.3): access to resources, entitlements (property rights), institutions and governance, human resources (human capital in the economics literature) and technology. They are all reflected in one or more citations from the development literature cited here, and they conform well to the "5 capital" model articulated by Porritt (2005) in terms of human, manufactured, social, natural and financial capital.

Lucas (1988) concluded early on that differences in human capital are large enough to explain differences between the longrun growth rates of poor and rich countries. Moretti (2004), for example, showed that businesses located in cities where the fraction of college graduates (highly educated work force) grew faster and experienced larger increases in productivity. Guiso et al. (2004) explored the role of social capital in peoples' abilities to successfully take advantage of financial structures; they found that social capital matters most when education levels are low and law enforcement is weak. Rozelle and Swinnen (2004) looked at transition countries in central Europe and the former Soviet Union; they observed that countries growing steadily a decade or more after economic reform had accomplished a common set of intermediate goals: achieving macroeconomic stability, reforming property rights, and creating institutions to facilitate exchange. Order and timing did not matter, but meeting all of these underlying objectives was critical. Winters et al. (2004) reviewed a wide literature on the links between trade liberalisation and poverty reduction. They concluded that a favourable relationship depends on the existence and stability of markets, the ability of economic actors to handle changes in risk, access to technology, resources, competent and honest government, policies that promote conflict resolution and human capital accumulation. Shortfalls in any of these underpinnings make it extremely difficult for the most disadvantaged citizens to see any advantage from trade. Finally, Sala-i-Martin et al. (2004) explained economic growth by variation in national

Table 20.1. Drivers of change in ecosystem services. Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA, 2005).

participation in primary school education (human capital), other measures of human capital (e.g., health measures), access to affordable investment goods and the initial level of per capita income (access to resources).

20.3.3 Two-way causality between sustainable development and adaptive capacity

It has become increasingly evident, especially since the TAR (IPCC, 2001b), that the pace and character of development influences adaptive capacity and that adaptive capacity influences the pace and character of development. It follows that development paths, and the choices that define them, will affect the severity of climate impacts, not only through changes in exposure and sensitivity, but also through changes in the capacities of systems to adapt. This includes local-scale disaster risk reduction and resource management (e.g., Shaw, 2006; Jung et al., 2005), and broader social dimensions including governance, societal engagement and rights, and levels of education (Haddad, 2005; Tompkins and Adger, 2005; Brooks et al., 2005; Chapter 17, Section 17.3).

Munasinghe and Swart (2005) and Swart et al. (2003) argued that sustainable development measures and climate-change policies, including adaptation, can reinforce each other; Figure 20.2 portrays some of the texture of the interaction that they envisioned. Although scholarly papers on adaptation began to appear in the 1980s, it was not until the 2001 Marrakech Accords that a policy focus on adaptation within the United Nations

Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) developed (Schipper, 2006). Klein et al. (2005) suggest that adaptation has not been seen as a viable option, in part because many observers see market forces creating the necessary conditions for adaptation even in the absence of explicit policies and, in part, because understanding of how future adaptation could differ from historical experience is limited.

Efforts to promote alternative development pathways that are more sustainable could include measures to reduce non-renewable energy consumption, for example, or shifting construction of residential or industrial infrastructure to avoid high-risk areas (AfDB et al., 2004). The MA (2005) attempted to describe a global portrait of such a pathway in its "Techno Garden" scenario. In this future, an inter-connected world promotes expanded use of innovative technology, but its authors warned that technology may not solve all problems and could lead to the loss of indigenous cultures. Climate-change measures could also encounter such limitations. Gupta and Tol (2003) describe various climate-policy dilemmas including competition between human rights and property rights.

Adaptation measures embedded within climate-change policies could, by design, try to reduce vulnerabilities and risks by enhancing the adaptive capacity of communities and economies. This would be consistent with sustainability goals. Researchers and practitioners should not equate vulnerability to poverty, though, and they should not consider adaptation and adaptive capacity in isolation. Brooks et al. (2005) conclude that efforts to promote adaptive capacity should incorporate aspects of education, health and governance and thereby extend the context beyond a particular stress (such as climate change) to include factors that are critical in a broader development context. Haddad (2005) noted the critical role played here by general rankings of economic development performance and general reflections of national and local goals and aspirations, and explained how different people might choose different development from the same set of alternatives even if they had the same information.

Past adaptation and development experience displays mixed results. Kates (2000) described several historic climate adaptations (e.g., drought in the Sahel) and development measures (e.g., the Green Revolution) and argued that development measures that were generally consistent with climate adaptation often benefited some groups (e.g., people with access to resources) while harming others (e.g., poor populations, indigenous peoples). Ford et al. (2006) showed that unequal acquisition of new technologies can, under some circumstances, increase vulnerability to external stresses by weakening social networks and thereby altering adaptive capacity within communities and between generations. Belliveau et al. (2006) makes the link to climate explicit by observing that adaptation to non-climatic forces, without explicitly considering climate, can lead to increased vulnerability to climate because adapting previous adaptations can be expensive.

Future links between sustainable development and climate change will evolve from current development frameworks; but recognising the exposure of places and peoples to multiple stresses (Chapter 17; Chapter 19; Section 20.3.1) and accepting the challenge of mainstreaming adaptation into development planning will be critical in understanding what policies will work where and when. For example, in the Sudan, there is a risk that development efforts focusing on short-term relief can undermine community coping capacity (Elasha, 2005). In the mitigation realm, incentives for carbon sequestration could promote hybrid forest plantations and therefore pose a threat to biodiversity and ecosystem adaptability (Caparros and Jacquemont, 2003; Chapter 18). Development decisions can also produce cumulative threats. In the Columbia River Basin, for

Figure 20.2. Two-way linkages between climate and sustainable development. Source: Swart et al. (2003).

Alternative development pathways Sectoral environmental/economic policies Institutional/managerial changes Innovation/technological change

Avoided climate change damage Ancillary benefits/costs Direct national/sectoral costs Spillovers/trade effects Innovation/technological change

Alternative development pathways Sectoral environmental/economic policies Institutional/managerial changes Innovation/technological change

Avoided climate change damage Ancillary benefits/costs Direct national/sectoral costs Spillovers/trade effects Innovation/technological change

Figure 20.2. Two-way linkages between climate and sustainable development. Source: Swart et al. (2003).

instance, extensive water resource development can influence basin management with multiple objectives within scenarios of climate change because climate impacts on stream-flow cause policy dilemmas when decision-makers must balance hydroelectricity production and fisheries protection (Hamlet, 2003; Payne et al., 2004). Restoring in-stream flow to present-day acceptable (but sub-optimum) levels could, in particular, cause hydroelectricity production to decline and production from fossil fuel sources to rise. Interactions of this sort raise important questions on the analysis of the causes of recent climate-related disasters. For example, are observed trends in injuries/fatalities and property losses (Mileti, 1999; Mirza, 2003; MA, 2005; Munich Re, 2005) due to unsustainable development policies, climate change or a mixture of different factors? Could policy interventions reduce these losses in ways that would still meet broader objectives of sustainable development? Some proposed responses for Africa are described in Low (2005) and AfDB et al. (2004).

Globalisation also adds complexity to the management of common-pool resources because increased interdependence makes it more difficult to find equitable solutions to development problems (Ostrom et al., 1999). Increases in the costs associated with various hazards and the prospects of cumulative environmental/economic threats have been described as syndromes. Schellnhuber et al. (1997) identified three significant categories: over-utilisation (e.g., over-cultivation of marginal land in the Sahel), inconsistent development (e.g., urban sprawl and associated destruction of landscapes) and hazardous sinks (e.g., large-scale diffusion of long-lived substances). Schellnhuber et al. (2002) and L├╝deke et al. (2004) describe possible future distributions of some of these syndromes. They suggest how mechanisms of mutual reinforcement, including climate change and development drivers, can help to identify regions where syndromes may expand and others where they might contract.

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