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Managing adaptation in a changing world

Adaptation is a word often used in conjunction with climate change, but it is something that society has always done. Adapting to (any) change means adapting the way we do things - in all areas of our lives - to respond to the changing circumstances. It means not only protecting against negative impacts, but also making us better able to take advantage of any benefits. For example the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defined adaptation as "any adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities".

Adaptation planning will be more effective if it is systematic and strategic. As the (Australian) Department of Climate Change points out, such an approach will need to engage stakeholders, identify and set priorities for action, assign responsibility for action and monitor implementation, and keep adaptation strategies under regular review. More emphasis will be required to be strategic about planning and risk management. Attention needs to be paid to address the linked concepts of community vulnerability and resilience. Adaptation will probably require a special focus and dedicated resources, but must build into existing practices and strategies. One outcome of adaptation planning may be to modify existing practices and policies. The following links lead to more information on adaptation within the wider governance environment. Another page in this section provides information on adaptive management as a particular form of adaptation.

Most of the resources here on adaption are of use to planners, decision-makers, local practitioners and to anyone interested in responding to climate change, they will also help in building a resilient community.

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