Assessment of uncertainty, vulnerability and risk
Due to the primary focus of the UNFCCC on mitigation, there has been relatively little work on adaptation measures that could reduce vulnerability and risks resulting from changes in the climate system. In particular, the amount of research and stakeholder attention to foreseeable changes in the water regime has not been commensurate with the importance of water to human life and the reality that hydrologic cycle changes will almost certainly be the first climate change impacts that will have serious negative impacts on human systems. This lack of attention to adaptation, as opposed to mitigation options has persisted in spite of the fact that it is recognized that the agriculture and forest sectors will be among the sectors most vulnerable to climate changes. For countries, regions, or localities heavily dependant on agriculture and forestry for livelihoods and economic stability or growth, adaptation measures, and in particular assessments of which adaptation measures are likely to provide substantial benefits are critically needed.
To the knowledge of the experts in this Consortium, only a few integrated assessments as in projects like AQUADAPT, CLIMED or MEDIS are available covering almost the full range of adaptation measures that could be deployed to address water-induced threats to income, health, and social stability. But in all these approaches there is no comprehensive assessment of uncertainties integrated. Adaptation options include, for example, water supply and drainage system enhancements, water use and management changes, agricultural practice changes, forest practice changes, land use changes, and financial instruments. Further, available assessments of adaptation measures have not been coupled with comprehensive analyses of the uncertainties that attend their deployment, particularly uncertainties stemming not only from climate models but also from uncertainties in socio-economic or human-influenced systems. Such uncertainties include, among others, the uncertainty of adoption and effectiveness of the adaptation measures. The proposed project would move the state-of-the-art forward first by providing integrated assessments of a full range of appropriate adaptation options for two Mediterranean sites. It would then take the next step of examining the uncertainties involved in assessing not only vulnerability but also in deployment of adaptation measures themselves. The project would further develop a methodology or tool that could be used to:
- identify key indicators of socio-economic vulnerability and risk,
- use these indicators to identify appropriate adaptation options, and
- determine the degree of reduction in risk and vulnerability that could be achieved through deployment of the selected adaptation measures.
There is already considerable evidence of climate change-induced drought in a number of Mediterranean regions, and current downscaling of general circulation models is pointing to further reductions in precipitation in these areas. Consequently, adaption oriented to ameliorating the impacts of water-induced changes due to climate change will be a high priority. Stakeholders do not yet have, however, a tool to assist them in rational selection of adaptation measures. This project will fulfil this gap by providing a communication tool enabling the translation of results of the complex of uncertainty analyses into easily-understood results. A format will be designed to convey key results in a manner that will enable policy-makers and other non-expert stakeholders to grasp the options and their consequences. However, study partners are unaware of any integrated evaluation of the cost- and social effectiveness of the full range of adaptive mechanisms that could be applied to the agricultural and water sectors.
The state-of-the-art will be further advanced by development of a methodology for identifying region-specific socio-economic indicators that serve to signal high potential for political tension, including conflict. The methodology will be developed based on the experience in evaluating the full range of adaptation options relevant to the selected sites and through consultation with the Consortium assigned the SSH call on Climate induced changes in water resources in Southern Europe and neighboring countries as a threat to security. In this respect also, the project will move beyond state-of-the-art. The range of disciplines whose perspective will be brought to bear on the problem of adaptation measures to reduce climate-induced threats will exceed previous work in this field. Peace researchers and those involved in conflict resolution will join with a wide range of natural and social scientists to identify potential approaches.