Programmes of Action

At present there is sparse documentary evidence on outcomes of NAPA planning processes or implementation. One case that has been examined is that of the Bangladesh NAPA (Huq and Khan, 2006). The authors recommend that NAPAs should adopt (a) a livelihood rather than sectoral approach, (b) focus on near- and medium-term impacts of climate variability as well as long-term impacts, (c) should ensure integration of indigenous and traditional knowledge, and (d) should ensure procedural fairness through interactive participation and self-mobilisation (Huq and Khan, 2006). They found that NAPA consultation and planning processes have the same constraints and exhibit the same problems of exclusion and narrow focus as other national planning processes (such as those for Poverty Reduction Strategies). They conclude that the fairness and effectiveness of national adaptation planning depends on how national governments already include or exclude their citizens in decision-making and that effective participatory planning for climate change requires functioning democratic structures. Where these are absent, planning for climate change is little more than rhetoric (Huq and Khan, 2006). Similar issues are raised and findings presented by Huq and Reid (2003), Paavola (2006) and Burton et al. (2002). The key role of non-government and community-based organisations in ensuring the sustainability and success of adaptation planning is likely to become evident over the incoming period of NAPA development and implementation.

related to a lack of micro-level socio-economic information, and gaps in stakeholder participation in the planning, design, implementation and monitoring of projects.

In summary, the opportunities for implementing adaptation as part of government planning are dependent on effective, equitable and legitimate actions to overcome barriers and limits to adaptation (ADB, 2005; Agrawala and van Aalst, 2005; Lim et al., 2005). Initial signals of impacts have been hypothesised to create the demand and political space for implementing adaptation, the so-called 'policy windows hypothesis'. Box 17.7, however, reveals that evidence is contested on whether individual weather-related catastrophic events can facilitate adaptation action, or whether they act as a barrier to long-term adaptation.

17.4.2 Limits and barriers to adaptation

Most studies of specific adaptation plans and actions argue that there are likely to be both limits and barriers to adaptation as a response to climate change. The U.S. National Assessment (2001), for example, maintains that adaptation will not necessarily make the aggregate impacts of climate change negligible or beneficial, nor can it be assumed that all available adaptation measures will actually be taken. Further evidence from Europe and other parts of the globe suggests that high adaptive capacity may not automatically translate into successful adaptations to climate change (O'Brien et al., 2006). Research on adaptation to changing flood risk in Norway, for example, has shown that high adaptive capacity is countered by weak incentives for proactive flood management (Nffiss et al., 2005). Despite increased attention to potential adaptation options, there is less understanding of their feasibility, costs, effectiveness, and the likely extent of their actual implementation (U.S. National Assessment, 2001). Despite high adaptive capacity and significant investment in planning, extreme heatwave events continue to result in high levels of mortality and disruption to infrastructure and electricity supplies in European, North

American and east Asian cities (Klinenberg, 2003; Mohanty and Panda, 2003; Lagadec, 2004; Poumadere et al., 2005).

This section assesses the limits to adaptation that have been discussed in the climate change and related literatures. Limits are defined here as the conditions or factors that render adaptation ineffective as a response to climate change and are largely insurmountable. These limits are necessarily subjective and dependent upon the values of diverse groups. These limits to adaptation are closely linked to the rate and magnitude of climate change, as well as associated key vulnerabilities discussed in Chapter 19. The perceived limits to adaptation are hence likely to vary according to different metrics. For example, the five numeraires for judging the significance of climate change impacts described by Schneider et al. (2000b) - monetary loss, loss of life, biodiversity loss, distribution and equity, and quality of life (including factors such as coercion to migrate, conflict over resources, cultural diversity, and loss of cultural heritage sites) - can lead to very different assessments of the limits to adaptation. But emerging literature on adaptation processes also identifies significant barriers to action in financial, cultural and policy realms that raise questions about the efficacy and legitimacy of adaptation as a response to climate change.

17.42.1 Physical and ecological limits

There is increasing evidence from ecological studies that the resilience of coupled socio-ecological systems to climate change will depend on the rate and magnitude of climate change, and that there may be critical thresholds beyond which some systems may not be able to adapt to changing climate conditions without radically altering their functional state and system integrity (see examples in Chapter 1). Scheffer et al. (2001) and Steneck et al. (2002), for instance, find thresholds in the resilience of kelp forest ecosystems, coral reefs, rangelands and lakes affected both by climate change and other pollutants. Dramatic climatic changes may lead to transformations of the physical environment of a region that limit the possibilities for adaptation (Nicholls and Tol,

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