Loss and Damage Associated with Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation: Stakeholder Perceptions for Shaping the Future Agenda of Asia Pacific Adaptation Network

Research Report
Loss and Damage Associated with Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation: Stakeholder Perceptions for Shaping the Future Agenda of Asia Pacific Adaptation Network

The Asia Pacific Adaptation Network (APAN) was established in 2009 in response to the growing need for collaboration among different stakeholders engaged in climate change adaptation and related areas to build resilience of vulnerable human, ecosystems and economies to climate change. The network envisages achieving this through sharing knowledge and information on climate change adaptation among the relevant stakeholders, facilitating developing countries to access finance mechanisms and assist in adaptation planning and capacity building of stakeholders to achieve adaptation in major sectors at national and sub-national levels. With the growing importance of loss and damage associated with climate change impacts and adaptation (L&D) in various discourses at international and national levels, it bound upon the network to identify the pertinent issues and perceptions among the stakeholders it caters to so as to design its agenda in the years to come. With this objective in mind, an online survey was carried out in order to elicit responses from different stakeholders engaged in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction such that the network will be able to gauge the current level of understanding on the subject of L&D, existing capacities and gaps needs to be filled.

The survey was participated by 102 (n=102) respondents representing governmental departments, non-governmental organizations, universities and academic institutions, donor agencies and UN and intergovernmental agencies. Most respondents were from non-governmental developmental organizations (38%) followed by government departments (15%), independent think tanks (14%), universities (11%) and governmental think tanks (9%). Most respondents were in the age group of 30-50 (56%) followed by 50-60 (21%) and 18-30 (17%). 38% of the respondents have worked in climate change adaptation, 30% in environmental management and 12% in disaster risk reduction. For the purpose of analysis, the responses were grouped into those associated with APAN and those not associated with APAN, governmental and non-governmental respondents and respondents representing countries from Australia, Bangladesh, India, Philippines and Vietnam. Analysis was done for selected questions for the purpose of focus and the results were presented as % responses. Since no statistical significance test was carried out, only the numerical difference in percentage responses was used as criteria to delineate the differences in responses.

In general, the results have indicated differences in opinion among the analysis groups i.e. nature of association with the network, representing country and organizational affiliation while responses for few questions were uniform across the groups which is understandable in a survey of this nature. In terms of definition of L&D, most respondents preferred the definition to cover the entire actual and potential impacts rather than to limit the definition only to residual impacts after implementing adaptation and mitigation actions. Lack of sufficient modelling tools and insufficient understanding on the past and current climate change impacts appeared to be the most important bottlenecks in understanding the L&D associated with climate change. While most respondents felt the need for improved understanding and knowledge in all the key sectors relevant to adaptation, those not associated with APAN activities have preferred to focus on livelihoods and urban areas while those related to APAN thought that the knowledge gap is higher in the area of biodiversity and agriculture. Most governmental respondents (17%) thought there is significant dearth of knowledge to address L&D in agriculture sector while the most non-governmental respondents (11%) thought biodiversity needs more attention for understanding L&D.

All is not lost in terms of the institutional capacities. The survey has revealed that the current institutional capacities created to address climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction could come handy in addressing the L&D. Most respondents felt that the experience from disaster risk reduction and indigenous knowledge could be helpful in addressing the L&D while the governmental respondents opined that only climate change adaptation specific experience will be helpful to address the L&D. Most respondents have opined that investing in capacity building and implementing mechanism for collection and dissemination of data would be most effective in addressing the L&D. The current institutional mechanisms though reported to be helpful, issues such as lack of coordination at the local governments and among non-environmental ministries appeared to pose major limitation.

Respondents also thought that the research and academic organizations constitute important stakeholder for working with national governments in effectively addressing the L&D which was followed by NGOs and other climate change adaptation related institutions. Others have felt that the existing institutions lacked access to grassroots level issues and thus there is a need for implementing local level climate change action plans which will enable putting in place concerted actions at the local level. Surprisingly, very few respondents, irrespective of group they belonged to, have selected the private sector as an important ally in assisting governments in addressing the L&D.

The survey participants have asked the network to focus more on sharing scientific knowledge (climate change impacts and vulnerability assessments) and sharing on-the-ground experiences of implementing adaptation projects and initiating pilot research projects on L&D. The need for implementing pilot projects to address L&D appeared significantly as an important gap in the current agenda of the network.

Among the individual countries, an overwhelming majority of respondents from Australia (100%) felt that there is no sufficient scientific understanding on the issue of L&D. Respondents from India (94%), Bangladesh (85%) and Philippines (69%) reported the lack of scientific understanding to address the L&D more in terms of lack of sufficient modeling tools to project the future climate and impacts, lack of sufficient understanding on the past and current climate change impacts, lack of tools for downscaling the projected risks to a specific location and lack of means to address the uncertainty. Others have felt that tools related to estimating economic L&D are equally lacking in addition to tools for projecting the physical impacts. Respondents from Australia have identified livelihoods as an important area lacking sufficient understanding and knowledge to address L&D while respondents from other countries chose multiple areas lacking scientific knowledge. For example, respondents from India have identified water sector as lacking sufficient scientific knowledge while responses from Vietnam have identified water and livelihoods as important areas needing scientific research to generate knowledge.

In conclusion, this survey has helped in obtaining the perceptions of major stakeholders engaged in adaptation and will shape the agenda of the network in the years to come. Relatively large proportion of respondents associated with APAN showing higher awareness levels clearly vindicates the knowledge sharing and capacity building efforts of the network. While the survey has broadly corroborated the direction the network is taking on the subject of L&D, the network needs to invest significant resources to implement pilot research projects addressing the L&D and share the lessons learned.