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Whole Community Adaptation: Testing the Concept

As climate change continues to unfold, we are seeing it touch and alter every part of our communities. As decision makers respond, they need to be aware of how others are impacted and how they are also responding. Without cross-sector coordination, our experience tells us that actions in one sector are likely to exacerbate climate change impacts to other sectors, simply shifting the risk instead of increasing overall resilience.

At the Geos Institute, we have developed an approach to climate change preparedness called “Whole Community Adaptation.” This approach involves working across sectors to foster a more holistic understanding of the variety of impacts across a community.

We think it works better than single sector planning, which focuses specifically on one particular issue (water, transportation, health impacts, etc.), but have not yet tested that premise from a research standpoint. That is, until now.

In order to test whether Whole Community Adaptation works better than single sector planning in creating community resilience, we have initiated a comparative research project. We are looking at whether the types of adaptation strategies developed in cross-sector planning adaptation planning processes differ from those developed using traditional single-sector adaptation planning processes.

To move this research along, our ClimateWise team is reviewing adaptation plans from both cross-sector and single sector planning processes.

Some of the questions we hope to answer include:

  • Are adaptation strategies developed in cross-sector planning processes more or less likely to result in conflict or maladaptation?
  • Are adaptation strategies developed in cross-sector planning processes more or less likely to result in co-benefits to other resources and populations?
  • Are adaptation strategies developed in cross-sector planning processes more or less likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions?
  • What types of planning frameworks have been used to develop cross-sector adaptation strategies?

If you are familiar with an adaptation plan or strategy development process that you think we should include in our review, please contact Dr. Marni Koopman (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Remember, we need both single sector and multi-sector plans for our study.

Sharing our experiences and learning at this time is incredibly important for the development of best practices for building climate change resilience in our communities. Thank you!

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