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

17.5. Future Requirements, Information, and Research Needs

Although good progress has been made in understanding the vulnerability and adaptation potential of small island states to climate change, the foregoing discussion highlights critical information gaps and uncertainties that still exist. It has been established that small island states constitute a very high-risk group of countries as a consequence of their high vulnerability and low adaptive capacity. Climate change is inevitable, even if any global agreement to limit GHG emissions were swiftly implemented. Thus, the need to focus on adaptation options and requirements already is critical for small islands, given that these countries are projected to suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change (Bijlsma, 1996; Nurse et al., 1998; Nicholls et al., 1999; Gillespie and Burns, 2000). The agenda set out below therefore is designed not only to fill existing knowledge gaps but also to help identify opportunities for minimizing the adverse effects of climate change (including avoidance of maladaptation), as an important component of adaptation planning in these islands:

Finally, there is some uneasiness in the small island states about perceived overreliance on the use of outputs from climate models as a basis for planning risk reduction and adaptation to climate change. There is a perception that insufficient resources are being allocated to relevant empirical research and observation in small islands. Climate models are simplifications of very complex natural systems; they are severely limited in their ability to project changes at small spatial scales, although they are becoming increasingly reliable for identifying general trends. In the face of these concerns, therefore, it would seem that the needs of small island states can best be accommodated by a balanced approach that combines the outputs of downscaled models with analyses from empirical research and observation undertaken in these countries.

Other reports in this collection