Decision Making in a Changing Climate

In light of
recent extreme weather events, as well as long-term disruptions
related to climate change, a major  href=””>
new report calls for different approaches to decision
making by national leaders.

The report, Decision Making in a Changing
, explores challenges and offers
recommendations for national-level government officials to make
informed and effective decisions to respond to the changing

The report, produced by the World Resources Institute, UNDP,
UNEP, and the World Bank, is the latest edition of the
influential World Resources Report.

“Climate change is a vast, complex, and urgent issue for
national leaders. What’s clear beyond doubt is that the decisions
leaders make today will have a profound effect on their countries’
ability to find real, lasting solutions to adapt to this global
crisis,” said href=””>Manish
, Interim President, the World Resources

“This report provides decision makers with concepts and
information they need - drawn from real world experiences - to make
smart choices and ensure that decision making is effective and
durable in the light of these challenges.”

The challenges of climate change are made clear by the array of
recent extreme weather events from massive droughts in the Horn of
Africa to record rainfall in the United States to wildfires in
Brazil. According to the global insurance company,  href=””
target=”_blank”>Munich Re, there were more than 950 natural
disasters in 2010, 90 percent of which were weather related,
costing a total of at least $130 billion.

“Climate change is not solely an environmental issue. It is an
issue that needs to be taken into account in order to ensure that
human development is sustainable over the long term”
said Olav Kjorven, Director of the Bureau for
Development Policy at UNDP.

“Governments must start now to incorporate climate risks into
plans and policies across all sectors, including urban development,
coastal planning, agriculture, water and forestry management, and
electricity production.”

Drawing on input from over 100 experts in over 35 countries, the
report includes 12 case studies of innovative, real world responses
to climate change, such as wildfire management in Brazil,
information sharing on agriculture in Mali and glacial flood
management in Nepal. These countries demonstrate how some are
rising to the challenge of adapting to climate change.

Yet, adaptation efforts worldwide are
still failing to meet the challenge.

“Under present trends, the livelihoods of millions of farmers in
Africa, and other people around the world, could be lost due to
shifting hydrological patterns, higher temperatures and more
extreme weather events,” said Andrew Steer, World Bank Special
Envoy for Climate Change.

“This doesn’t need to happen. Good policies for climate
resilience and low-carbon development can be put in place at
reasonable cost. The good news is that many developing countries in
Africa and elsewhere are taking action to do just that.”

The report identifies key challenges to decision making,

  • While the pace of climate change is accelerating, there is great
    uncertainty about how some impacts- such as changing precipitation
    patterns and sea level rise - will unfold around the world;

  • Climate change impacts will not play out on a level playing
    field; some people are more vulnerable than others; and

  • Climate change demands tough, but transformational changes,
    especially when faced with choices between short-term and long-term
    allocation of resources.

The report offers a suite of tools and recommendations for
national-level policy makers.

These include: tailoring adaptation efforts to address uneven
vulnerability among populations, incorporating strategies to
balance both short- and long-term policy objectives, and planning
for uncertainty and a longer time horizon when making decisions.
Important considerations include: early and ongoing public
engagement, access to information, effective institutional design,
allocation of resources, and appropriate policy tools.

“National, regional and local governments, businesses, and civil
society are already making decisions to make the transition to a
climate resilient, low-carbon future and build the green economies
of the twenty-first century,” says Kaveh
, Coordinator of UNEP’s Climate Change Program.

“This report shows that smart adaptation investments, such as
those in climate resilient agriculture in China, mangrove
restoration in Vietnam, and watershed management in Rwanda, deliver
multiple benefits from food security to coastline protection to
improved energy supply and ultimately help build the resilience of
communities that are most vulnerable to climate change.”

Decision Making in a Changing
 is the 13th edition of
the World Resources Report, a series that has been
published over a 25 year period.

The full report, including the executive summary, individual
case studies, and expert papers, can be found href=””

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