Broad popular and political support is essential for successful adaptation, given that it will require measures that are challenging, costly, and innovative. Much of the burden and cost of changes ultimately will be borne by potentially affected communities. In order to be effective, then, adaptation must be done in a participatory and transparent manner.
Among the most significant challenges for adaptation is the uncertainty associated with specific effects of climate change in particular locales. Legislative bodies typically have found it difficult to draft laws that effectively deal with uncertainty and contingencies, but these will become increasingly important. One mechanism for coping with uncertainty is to set aside funds to pay for projects that may be needed, depending on changed circumstances. This is less likely to be viable in developing countries, unless such funds are made available through the World Bank or other multilateral institutions.
The transition to adaptive management likely will focus on four broad themes. First, policymakers, regulated entities, and the public must become more comfortable managing uncertainty. Carefully constructed and implemented adaptive management pilot projects can help increase confidence. Second, mechanisms for collecting and sharing information must be strengthened. Most countries have such mechanisms, but they often suffer from inadequate staff, funding, and technical resources. In addition, a clear legal framework for adaptive management can provide a mandate and serve to address barriers to sharing information. Third, processes must be developed to periodically assess the information that has been gathered. Finally, there must be an ability and willingness to periodically revise the laws, regulations, permits, and other measures, based on these assessments. Because provisions requiring periodic revision are lacking in most current environmental laws, policymakers should be educated about why and how to draft such provisions. Some
U.S. states have experience with these provisions and may be considered as models.
SEE ALSO: Adaptation; Forests; Policy, International; Policy, U.S.; Sea Level, Rising.
bibliography. Food and Agriculture Organization, www. fao.org (cited November 2007); A.N. Grey, "Adaptive Ecosystem Management in the Pacific Northwest: A Case Study from Coastal Oregon," Ecology and Society (v.4/6, 2000); C.S. Holling, ed., Adaptive Environmental Assessment and Management (Blackburn Press, 1978); International Institute for Sustainable Development, www.iisd.org (cited November 2007); Natural Resources Canada, www. nrcan.gc.ca (cited November 2007); J.B. Ruhl, "Regulation by Adaptive Management—Is It Possible?," Minnesota Journal of Law, Science, and Technology (v.7, 2005); C. Walters, Adaptive Management of Renewable Resources (MacMillan Publishing Company, 1986).
Carl Bruch Lisa Goldman Sandra S. Nichols John Pendergrass Environmental Law Institute
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