Climate change and climate change adaptation

The term ‘climate change’ refers to changes in climate over a prolonged time. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines climate change as a change caused by natural internal processes or external forcings, or by persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or land use. This definition differs slightly from the one given by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): Here, focus is only on anthropogenic change, meaning that climate change is understood as a change of climate which is directly or indirectly caused by anthropogenic forces altering the composition of the atmosphere, and which is in addition to natural climate change. ISPONRE, GIZ and ICEM add to this definition by pointing out that climate change includes the observed and projected increases or decreases in regional and local temperatures, changes in timing and amount of rainfall, sea level rise etc..adapt

Drought, flooding, storms, heat waves – climate change has already left its mark around the world. Developing countries are particularly hard hit by the negative impacts of climate change. This poses a dual challenge to international climate policy: firstly, to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, thus avoiding climate change on a scale that we cannot manage, and secondly to support individuals and ecosystems in adapting to the consequences of climate change such that we can manage the unavoidable impacts of climate change. Both strategies (mitigation and adaptation) further presuppose that developing countries and emerging economies have access to international climate finance (GIZ).

Climate Change Adaptation

Developing countries suffer the most from negative climate change impacts, yet they bear the least responsibility for the adverse effects.

International climate policy, grounded in the UNFCCC, recognises this discrepancy. Within the UNFCCC process, the international community has now negotiated a post-2020 agreement. The parties to the Convention have set the goal of keeping global warming well below 2 °C relative to the pre-industrial level. This calls for major efforts worldwide to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and maintain carbon sinks. Yet even if the 2 °C target is met, climate change will have inescapable effects. Adapting to change is therefore vital to achieving sustainable development (GIZ).

The IPCC has defined adaptation as being the process of adjustment to both actual and expected climate and its impacts, with adaptation seeking to moderate or avoid harm or exploit beneficial opportunities in human systems. In short, governments, other institutions and communities take various measures and initiatives to adapt to climate change impacts and as such, reduce vulnerabilities of both human and natural systems. Just like climate change, adaptation is

complex and additionally country- and context-specific, with limitations to its effectiveness. However, it can reduce climate change risks and vulnerabilities, and contribute to current and future populations’ well-being, including securing assets and maintenance of ecosystem goods, functions and services.

Building resilience to climate change constitutes a principal way to deal with the world wide impacts of a changing

climate. Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) involves taking practical actions to manage risks from climate impacts, protect communities and strengthen the resilience of the economy. For that, it is needed to anticipate the adverse effects of climate change and to take appropriate action to fully prevent or at least minimize these negative impacts.

Objectives of Integrated Climate Change Adaptation

For adaptation strategies to be effective and to be able to reduce risks, they must take climate change-related information, socio-economic processes and

sustainable development into account (IPCC). In adaptive capacity, social and economic development plays an important role, often times also hampering societies’ capacity to adapt to climate change due to its unequal distribution across and within these societies.

Natural and man-made capital assets, social networks, technology, health, governance, development policy, human capital and institutions, and multiple climate and non-climate stresses have an influence on adaptive capacity.

Financial, technological, political, social, institutional and cultural constraints may often times limit the implementation and effectiveness of adaptation measures (IPCC). Adaptation to climate change means:

-to promote the resilience of livelihoods;

-to reduce the impacts of natural disasters such as storms and floods on vulnerable people and ecosystems;

-to build the capacity of civil society and government institutions to support integrated approaches to adaptation;

-to increase awareness of the underlying causes of vulnerability (degraded ecosystems, poor governance, unequal access to resources and services, discrimination and other social injustices);

-to promote the sustainable management and conservation of biodiversity to maintain the benefits provided by ecosystems (e.g. provision of food and shelter).

Climate change-related strategies and policies in Viet Nam

Further readings and useful links

IPCC. (2007). Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change – 2.1.3 The dual relationship between climate change and sustainable development.

IPCC Glossary:

ISPONRE, GIZ, ICEM. (2016). Strategic Mainstreaming of Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Vietnam: Vulnerability Assessment for Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Vietnam. Overall approach: Vulnerability Assessment for Socio-Ecological Systems. Hanoi: Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, International Centre for Environmental Management.

GIZ. (2014). Environment and climate change – Climate change (Advisory Service). Bonn and Eschborn: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit.

GIZ. (2017). Climate.

United Nations. (1992). United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. New York: United Nations. Retrieved from…htmlpdf/…/conveng.pdf