Narrowing the "adaptive capacity gap"

April 21, 2016
Jess Hatcher

The state of climate change adaptation globally is not well understood due to a dearth of organized approaches for tracking adaptation efforts, James Ford of Canada’s McGill University told experts at a global conference in Paris. He made the remarks during a penal at the July 2015 Our Common Future Under Climate Change conference, the largest scientific forum leading up to global climate talks in December 2015. The session was titled Planning and assessing adaptation: Frameworks, methods and results.

Although climate adaptation is an emerging priority around the world, efforts often fail to lead to concrete action, Ford said. Countries and regions suffer from “adaptation deficits,” while the most marginalized regions and social groups are routinely overlooked in adaptation planning. Research must continue to refine ways of tracking adaptation initiatives, he urged. 

Presenting results of an IDRC-supported fast-start climate finance project, Michael Okoti of the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization told the meeting that crop diversification could provide a critical safety net for dryland farmers in Kenya.

Climate projections reveal sharply declining yields for many food crops in Kenya, particularly the key staple, maize. Adopting short-season crops and crop varieties could significantly improve livelihoods, Okoti said, with green grams, cowpeas, and sweet potatoes among the top performers in difficult climate conditions. He also highlighted the importance of strengthening links to markets and collaborating with policymakers and the private sector.

"There is a critical need to go beyond scientific discourse to evaluate the effectiveness and impacts of tested adaptation strategies to inform practice, research, and policy,” said Edith Ofwona Adera, senior program specialist with IDRC’s climate change program.

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