Mainstreaming Adaptation

The concept of adapting to climate variations is nothing new. People have always found ways of responding to climate variations using their resources and traditional knowledge gained from experiences.   However, the current pace of change suggests it is not enough for people to rely on experience to navigate the future. 


Adaptation is the only way to deal with the inescapable impacts of climate change (Stern, 2007). If UKOTs hope to sustain those economic activities and livelihood strategies that are climate-dependent (for example, tourism) or heavily climate- influenced (for example, fisheries, agriculture), they have to make adaptation a major part of their national development strategies. The natural disasters that affect many UKOTs as part of their ‘normal’ climate conditions are becoming more intense and the territories have to look at how these have been, and will continue to be, influenced by climate change.  All countries already have some measures in place to deal with natural hazards; adaptation to climate change simply needs to scale up what already exists and strategically identify the gaps and weak points that need to be addressed.


An opportunity for UKOTs

Adapting to climate change is an opportunity for UKOTs to improve natural resource management and physical planning processes. Even if climate change were taken out of the equation, adaptive measures would make the territories better able to deal with the natural hazards that are part of their normal climate variability, as well as the growing human-induced stresses on the environment.


There are many things that UKOTs can do to adapt to climate change. Adaptive responses can be technological (for example, improving coastal defences), managerial (for example, introducing crop rotation) or policy-based (for example, strengthening planning regulations). They can also be behavioural. At the individual level, this could be something as simple as preparing one’s home adequately for a hurricane or using less water in the garden.




“… there have been natural and cyclical variations in the Earth’s climate in the past, [but] the current rate of change is faster than anything the planet has experienced before.”