Catalyzing the fundamental, systemic shifts needed to build resilience in a changing climate
From monster hurricanes flattening entire islands in the Caribbean to crop-withering droughts across East Africa, intensifying climate impacts are beginning to test the limits of what the world can adapt to by making relatively minor, incremental adjustments to existing economic, social and environmental systems. Hotter temperatures could, for instance, force production of heat-sensitive crops like coffee to shift to cooler locations, while more resilient crops replace it in warmer locations. Rising sea levels may push communities living across low-lying coastal zones to abandon their homes and relocate, while cities pummeled by recurrent hurricanes may need to overhaul building codes and establish “no build zones” to protect residents from storm surges.
To manage these increasingly severe impacts, some decision-makers must respond with transformative adaptation approaches – fundamental, systemic changes that help protect development gains, maximize resilience investments and reduce the escalating risk of conflict from climate change. Although these dramatic shifts may be disruptive and difficult, they may also be some countries’ best bet approach in the face of a stark future.
Yet too few examples of the dramatic, fundamental shifts needed to protect millions of lives and livelihoods exist, and tools and methodologies for longer-term, transformative approaches are only now being developed, leaving much of the world unprepared to manage increasing climate risks. Lack of awareness, funding and political will also hinder efforts to adopt transformative adaptation strategies.
To help overcome these challenges and prepare the world for climate impacts that lie ahead, WRI helps:
Build the case for transformative adaptation. Our research focuses on developing a framework for understanding transformative adaptation within the agricultural sector. To provide much-needed examples, we are also analyzing case studies that identify the drivers of systemic change and pinpoint factors that help enable these shifts.
Support governments in determining whether, when and where to adopt transformative approaches. We support countries grappling with difficult choices, helping decision-makers assess longer-term risks and develop plans that do not inadvertently lead to maladaptation, squander limited resources or increase the risk of conflict.
Develop new methodologies and tools, allowing decision-makers and practitioners to identify “best bet” approaches, phase in changes and pave the way for longer-term transformative outcomes.
Shape global dialogues and strengthen political will. Much of the world hasn’t yet grasped the scale of transformation required for adaptation. At WRI, we work with a global coalition of partners to elevate the visibility of climate resilience, urge governments to make and implement more ambitious adaptation commitments and share solutions across borders.
Catalyze investment. We help donors, from government agencies to climate funds, better understand transformative adaptation, recognize when it’s needed and identify proposals that have transformative potential.
Amplify the voices of the world’s poorest, most vulnerable communities. Transformative adaptation may disproportionately benefit some groups over others, depending on how decision-making power is distributed. We work to help ensure that communities hit hardest by climate change have a say in adaptation plans and policies.