1 Preparing the ground for adaptation

Step 1 of the Adaptation Support Tool must be understood as introducing key elements important to build the basis for a successful adaptation process. These include the need to obtain and assure high-level political support, set up a structured process with adequate coordination mechanisms and clarify roles and responsibilities, estimate human and financial resources needed, identify and collect available information and communicate and raise awareness.

2 Assessing risks and vulnerability to climate change

This step aims for a comprehensive picture of current and future climate risks and related opportunities as a basis for adaptation strategies and plans. Typically, climate change impact and vulnerability assessments (CCIV) are built upon:

information on current climate conditions and scenarios of future climate, including future slow on-set and extremes events,
an assessment of potential impacts of climate extremes and climate change on potentially vulnerable sectors
an analysis, which other underling factors and trends (ecosystem related, physical, technical, or socio-economic factors) are influencing climate risks in the respective sectors.
Based on this information and analysis, a CCIV Assessment summarizes the most relevant climate risks and vulnerabilities for single sectors or even across sectors. A focus lies on identifying the demand for adaptation by understanding critical climate impacts and related vulnerabilities within a system.

CCIVAs are based on a wide range of approaches to gather information, from data and model driven approaches (e.g. climate data, impact models) to more review, or expert based approaches. Assessment steps are usually performed in a participative manner with key stakeholder and experts.

There are no standards on how to conduct a CCIVA. However, an ISO-Norm (ISO/DIS 14091: Adaptation to climate change — Guidelines on vulnerability, impacts and risk assessment) was published, which contains a selection of good tools.

3 Identifying adaptation options

A detailed plan of action, setting out how, when and by whom specific adaptation measures should be implemented is crucial to achieve adaptation on the ground. To develop this plan of action it is important to identify potential adaptation options (in this step) and narrow them down This step assists national and sub-national authorities to identify potential adaptation options and collect relevant information for these options in a portfolio, which will facilitate further prioritisation of the options.

Adaptation options aim to address the previously identified concerns also arising from climate change vulnerability and risk assessments  to bring negative or adverse impacts of climate change at an acceptable level and can reduce the risks. Further, adaptation options may allow taking advantage of any positive opportunities that arise from climate change. Adaptation options can range from actions that build adaptive capacity (e.g. knowledge creation and sharing information, creating supportive institutional frameworks) or establish management systems and supportive mechanisms (e.g. better land management planning, insurance mechanisms) to adaptation actions implemented on the ground, e.g. physical or ecosystem-based measures. This step facilitates an exploration of potential adaptation options and helps to identify relevant actions.

To categorise the different types of adaptation options, the EEA has developed a set of Key Types of Measures (KTMs). Next to providing an overview of all types of measures, as those are wider than physical and technological interventions only, one of the main expected advantages of KTMs for adaptation is the improvement of the quality of reporting, both in terms of the user/reporter experience and of the reporting output data itself. In turn, more harmonized reporting and clearer outputs are expected to support the enhancement of adaptation planning and monitoring at the AU level, and consequently at the Member State level.

4 Assessing adaptation options

When adaptation options have been identified, the next steps are to assess and prioritize the compilation of adaptation options based on a detailed description and criteria. The selection of preferred adaptation options should be done in close interaction with all actors involved in the adaptation process.

To allow a good comparison of different adaptation options and a good communication with and among decision makers, each adaptation option inserted in the portfolio needs to be assessed based on agreed criteria. There are many criteria that can be used to assess the suitability of possible adaptation options. For example, consider their effectiveness in reducing vulnerability (or enhancing resilience), or their wider impact on sustainability and their costs. In addition, the link to climate change mitigation might play an important factor. Different sets of criteria have been used to assess different adaptation options. Tools and guidance documents provided in this section will help to select assessment procedures and feasible options. Africa Adaptation Initiative has a specific area that provides on overview of economic tools to assess adaptation options.

5 Implementing adaptation

Implementation relates to putting adaptation policies into effect, i.e. it means to actually carry out, translate into action and put into practice the adaptation measures foreseen in adaptation policy documents, such as an adaptation strategy. An important means of implementation is an adaptation action plan , which sets out what needs to be done to convert adaptation options into action, specifying by whom and when and allocating sufficient resources. Preparation of an adaptation plan may be based on a strategic document adopted, but it can also be elaborated as an integrated part of the national or sub-national adaptation strategy. Adaptation options selected and prioritised under Step 4 may also be mainstreamed directly into sector policies, but it is in any case beneficial and preferable to define sectoral adaptation measures in a comprehensive or sectoral adaptation action plan.

Implementation of adaptation policies relies on mainstreaming into sector policies and integration into policy instrumentsmultilevel coordination and cooperation, and stakeholder participation. Means to achieve coherent implementation across levels, sectors and actors comprise governance mechanisms and arrangements, including in particular a supportive institutional framework at higher-ranking levels.

Knowledge and experience on factors facilitating implementing of adaptation as well as lessons learnt are increasingly available across Africa. They are highlighted especially in the sections on adaptation options across case studies on Africa Adaptation Initiative.

6 Monitoring and Evaluating Adaptation

Efforts to monitor and evaluate adaptation generally serve both learning and accountability. At early stages of implementing adaptation policies, efforts typically focus on monitoring and evaluating processes set by adaptation policies (what is being done?). Procedural aspects may include for instance coordination mechanisms set in place, research and communication activities, or involvement of stakeholders in adaptation processes. As experience of implementing adaptation actions accrues, it becomes increasingly important to understand also the effects and outcomes of such processes and associated adaptation actions (what difference does it make to our vulnerabilities and risks?).

As governments increasingly have adaptation strategies and adaptation plans in place and revisions of National Adaptation Strategies (NAS), National Adaptation Plans (NAP) and/or Sectoral Adaptation Plans (SAP) are taking place, more and more experience is being gained in monitoring and limited experience in evaluation. Due to an increase in adaptation and adaptation-relevant actions, it becomes more essential to ensure the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of adaptation interventions. A dedicated monitoring and evaluation concept or strategy can ensure effectiveness and sustainability of the adaptation process over time. Understanding how best to adapt to future climate change, how risks can be most effectively reduced and resilience and adaptive capacity enhanced, and what the characteristics of a well-adapting society might be are still at an early stage. Learning what works well (or not) in which circumstances and for what reasons is critical. The development of an adaptation strategy and adaptation action plan presents an opportunity to consider how to best monitor, evaluate, and report on, adaptation progress and performance.