Climate Change 2001:
Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
Other reports in this collection Adaptability

Climate variability and change, both natural and anthropogenic, cause a wide range of direct and indirect impacts on natural and human systems. To understand which adaptation opportunities will be most cost-effective and have the greatest value, emphasis must be given to characteristics of system vulnerability, such as resilience, critical thresholds, and coping ranges, which are highly dependent on regions and nations. In this respect, lessons learned from past experiences regarding climate variability and change provide essential understanding of processes, actions, and successes.

The impacts of climate change and other drivers of environmental degradation (e.g., disparities in income level, technological gaps) are likely to be felt more severely in developing countries than in developed countries of Asia, irrespective of the magnitude of climate change, because of the poor resource and infrastructure bases. The developing countries need to scope the development of adaptation strategies incrementally to support development of existing policies that exploit "no regret" measures and "win-win" options (Smit et al., 2000). Detailed and reliable regional scenarios of climate change need to be developed and used in rigorous vulnerability analysis (e.g., low-probability/high- consequence events versus high-probability/high-consequence events, risk perceptions). In developing countries, adaptation responses are closely linked to developmental activities. Consequently, there are likely to be large spillover effects between adaptation policies and developmental activities. Care in this regard must be taken in the evaluation of adaptation costs and benefits. In developing countries of Asia, options such as population growth control, poverty alleviation, and capacity building in food production, health care delivery, and water resource management hold great potential in creating more resilient social systems that are capable of withstanding the negative impacts of climate change.

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