Two Decades of Focusing on Adaptation and Resilience

Recent climate-related disasters have highlighted, once again, the importance of adaptation.

Climate disasters have dominated news coverage in recent weeks. Texans are only starting to assess the damage from Hurricane Harvey, Floridians are returning home after Hurricane Irma instigated one of the largest evacuations in US history, and fires are scorching hundreds of thousands of acres across the West—to say nothing of Sierra Leone’s recent landslide, South Asia’s deadly monsoon flooding, and storm devastation throughout the Caribbean.

These disasters have highlighted, once again, the importance of adaptation: preparing for hazards to protect lives in the face of a capricious and changing climate. How to do so is far less clear. What role does climate change play in extreme weather? Does adaptation take resources away from other efforts to address climate change? What accounts for the ever-increasing economic toll of natural disasters? How can poorer countries increase their disaster resilience? In our politically divided era, what does an achievable approach to adaptation look like?

These are questions that the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes has been thinking about for a long time.

As we consider the best ways to offer immediate assistance to those affected by recent disasters, we want to share nearly two decades of work from CSPO and our partners to draw attention to adaptation. For communities beginning the long process of rebuilding and those developing their resilience strategies, this body of work offers new ways to think about adaptation and its many benefits.

These represent just a portion of CSPO’s adaptation-focused programs and publications (more can be found here, here, here, and here). We hope that this work brings fresh, pragmatic thinking to adaptation and climate strategies, and helps communities protect themselves from the kinds of disasters we’ve been anxiously reading about in the news.