The relationship between climate change and livelihoods is multi-dimensional; livelihoods are affected by climate change and used to mitigate its impacts. By restricting the availability of natural resources and ecosystem services (through drought, floods, and disease), climate change can make it more difficult for people to engage in the traditional livelihoods with which they have supported themselves and their families. At the same time, natural resource-dependent communities can reduce their vulnerability to climate change by diversifying their livelihoods and, consequently, the resources upon which they depend. To that end, laws, policies, and institutions can play a key role in facilitating the use of alternative resources and materials by communities seeking to adapt to the impacts of climate change. These tools can also be used to promote stakeholder participation in natural resource management decisions.
Climate change can hinder agricultural productivity and make certain crops less suitable for planting. Laws and institutions can be employed to improve water-management regimes, techniques, and practices; facilitate the continued development of drought-resistant crops and the use of genetically diverse crops and species; provide incentives for the planting of crops that are better adapted to changing climatic zones; and introduce new agricultural technologies. Climate change can affect fisheries, another key source of livelihoods, through changes in water temperatures and levels, as well as circulation and flows. Laws and institutions can facilitate adaptation by enforcing existing restrictions on pollution and habitat degradation, monitoring the impacts caused by climate change, creating protected areas for vulnerable species or habitats, and establishing commercial permitting and licensing systems for new species, when necessary and appropriate.
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