BC3. Basque centre for climate change – Klima aldaketa ikergai

Objective 4: Support decision making for successful and effective adaptation

Underpinning successful adaptation is the safeguarding of human, animal, plant and planetary health, not as separate entities but as co-constitutive systems. Health, social justice and sustainability will be taken as cornerstones from which to formulate adaptation strategies. Effective adaptation requires, as foundation, a thorough understanding of the current socio-economic, ecological and political contexts as well as how these may be impacted by present and future sources of risk. We will follow an approach of learning from in-depth local and regional case studies and will test ways of how to best support public authorities in integrating climate adaptation considerations into all relevant policies. Adaptation measures, once implemented, require tools for monitoring their success and to detect unintended consequences. We will investigate how effective adaptation necessarily requires the view of an evolving complex system, made up of highly interconnected elements that interact across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales.


Activity 4.1. Investigating pathways to improve climate risk analysis and -governance under uncertainty.

We aim to develop a better understanding of the role of uncertainty in decision making and the associated risk attitudes and -perceptions through social- and economic experiments. Conceptually, by studying the role of uncertainty in different multi-actor decision contexts, analytically, by studying the incentives and how benefits, costs and risks are spread across different agents. We intend to develop a better understanding of interactions and feedbacks due to the presence of multiple hazards and the analysis of how risks can be amplified due to the strong interconnectedness within socio-techno-ecological systems. We intend to find ways to better account for teleconnections of risk, that is how risks in distant parts of the world indirectly affect a local system under study. This, together with an improved understanding of how climate risks are more generally intertwined with other (emerging) global risks, will allow us to support effective risk governance in view of improving resilience of societies.


Activity 4.2. Exploring the dynamics of adaptation and the ways to reinforce positive impacts of adaptation actions.

From the individual to the global scale, there is a dominant question: how much and how well are we adapting? (e.g. in view of unintended consequences, redistributed risks or increased vulnerability). To adequately manage adaptation, we aim to acquire a deeper understanding of adaptation dynamics and potential triggers of maladaptation, as well as develop different methods for assessing the effectiveness of investments in adaptation and for tracking and evaluating adaptation progress across scales (considering environmental, economic, and social fairness and equity standpoints). We will address questions such as defining what is success in adaptation, as well as investigate operational approaches such as the use of adaptation metrics to understand progress or the use of results-based finance mechanisms to build resilience. This research will be further supported by improving our understanding of how societies have adapted to disturbances in the past, and more generally of how multiple drivers act and interact in shaping societies and their environments through time.


Activity 4.3. Understanding the local nature of adaptation and the role of urbanization and local politics.

At the local scale, urbanization processes, local politics and tools for urban policy and planning bear special importance. A broader look to processes connected to urbanism, which represent the relationship between the (peri-) urban space (natural, semi-natural and built elements) and people, is deemed critical. We aim to understand how the local adaptation solution space might be broadened across urban formal and informal contexts, considering how knowledge is (co)created and used, positive values activated, and how justice and equity aspects are integrated in urban climate adaptation decisions. The search for instruments to enable adaptation and learn from current and past experiences will be key to overcoming potential barriers in the adoption of adaptation practices across diverse local actors, including individuals, communities, public authorities and the private sector.


Activity 4.4. By integrating climate considerations into decision-making processes across scales, and linking to sustainability, justice and other societal challenges.

Planning for adaptation from a silo perspective has proven to be less effective in terms of implementation and in view of capturing synergies and trade-offs with other societal challenges and interests. The main objective of this activity is to develop approaches for the integration of climate considerations into decision-making processes through pathways that are environmentally and socially just while at the same time capable of promoting equity and wellbeing. For this, the integration of science-based knowledge as well as local knowledge relevant to improve our understanding of climate change vulnerabilities, risks and adaptation solutions, will be key to develop appropriate approaches to plan, manage and govern adaptation in public and private decision-making processes. Co-creation processes, supported by science-based methodologies (e.g. from environmental and social justice theory, relationality, socio-economic valuation) with key stakeholders and policy-makers will be essential for the development of tools to support decision making. Examples include the development of appropriate climate-related technical training for public administrations, the integration of risk adaptation criteria into public and private decision-making and the development of methodological tools for co-integrating the climate emergency and health perspectives into a wide range of urban policies.


Activity 4.5. Placing health and society at the heart of the adaptation process.

The increasing risks posed by climate change, environmental pollution, globalized unhealthy lifestyles in denser urban areas and emerging pandemics (e.g. COVID-19) ask for an improved community resilience to mitigate health impacts. Through an “extended One Health” approach, we propose to extend the analysis from its original reductionist anthropocentric conception into a broader model incorporating holistic concepts beyond instrumental values, recognizing and showing evidence of the systematically and intimately entwined nature of human, animal and ecosystem health, as co-constitutive assemblages rather than separated and fixed entities. Examples of man–animal–ecosystem assemblages include current societal challenges such as antimicrobial resistance, neurodegenerative diseases, food systems and urban health. This approach, as an alternative to the traditional public health approach, aiming towards the application of “One Health in All Policies”, requires an integration of models, methods and tools from different disciplines, strongly linked to ethical frameworks.


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