The global community is spending a large amount of money on projects intended to build resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change. At UNEP, our portfolio of such projects currently amounts to about 150 million dollars being executed in over 20 least developed countries. In the developed world, a single project can cost as much as UNEP’s global portfolio. For example, consider the $170 million dollars being spent to replenish just 12 miles of 15 foot high dunes washed away during Hurricane Sandy on Fire Island, New York as part of a strategy of adaptation to sea level rise and related hazards (Berger, 2014).
But what happens when the next, increasingly frequent, tropical storm hits New York? Will this 170 million dollar dune investment protect the city or will it simply be washed away like the last time? It is surprisingly difficult to say. The same quandary exists for even some of the most ubiquitous and well documented approaches to adaptation such as mangrove rehabilitation (Alexandris et al, in press).
Indeed, the effectiveness of ecosystem based approaches to adaptation as a whole has yet to be clearly demonstrated in the peer reviewed research literature (Doswald et al, 2014). Despite the fact the global community has already invested billions of dollars in them, all adaptation measures, be they engineered, ecosystem based, social, economic or an integrated combination of all of these, suffer from precisely the same uncertainty as to their full range of long term effects, possible unanticipated consequences, and overall effectiveness (eg Lobell, 2014).
What is the solution to all this uncertainty? In my opinion, it is to firmly engage the academic research community – many of whom may affiliate themselves with PROVIA - in the monitoring and evaluation process. While standard project evaluation is carried out on a three to five year timescale and generally limited to fairly trivial quantitative indicators of ‘success’, the research community is eminently well placed to grapple far more thoroughly with the many intricacies and vexing questions surrounding how to effectively build resilience to climate change. They should take up the challenge.
As always, we encourage you to get involved with the PROVIA initiative. We invite you take a moment to join our PROVIA network
formally. Your contact information allows us to keep you informed of PROVIA activities, and will assist us in targeted responses to support our stakeholder community.
Coordinator, Climate Change Adaptation and Terrestrial Ecosystems Branch
Division of Environmental Policy Implementation
United Nations Environment Programme
|Alexandris, N., Chatenoux, B., Lopez Torres, L., and Peduzzi, P. (in press) “Monitoring Mangrove Restoration from Space”,
Berger, J. (2014) “Complaints and Warnings About Plan to Replenish Fire Island‘s Dunes” New York Times, 27 May.
Doswald H. et al (2014) “Effectiveness of ecosystem-based approaches for adaptation: review of the evidence-base” 1:1-16,
Climate and Development. DOI: 10.1080/17565529.2013.867247
Lobell, D. (2014) “Climate change adaptation in crop production: Beware of illusions” Global Food Security 3:72-76. DOI:
PROVIA is one of the strategic partners and conveners of a biennial International Adaptation Conference that brings together research scientists, policy makers and practitioners from developed and developing countries to share knowledge about adaptation challenges and opportunities. The Fourth International Climate Change Adaptation Conference will take place in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 10-13 May 2016.
The focus will be adaptation practices and solutions focusing all sectors globally with aims to strengthen cooperation between science and practice, engage communities of practice and build new partnership to link adaptation action to current development, investment and planning decisions. The Conference will be co-hosted and convened by the European Commission, the Government of the Netherlands and the Global Programme of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and adaptation (PROVIA).
Adaptation Futures 2016
... is a conference and market-place for practices and solutions
... strengthens ties between science and practice
... engages communities of practice and builds new partnerships
... links adaptation action to current development, investment and planning decisions
The programme of the conference will offer a variety of plenary and parallel sessions, round tables, excursions, exhibition, side events and back to back meetings.
For more information, please visit the conference
While responding to the urgent call by the scientific community towards addressing gaps in VIA knowledge-based, PROVIA also aims to nurture professional development of young scientists to ensure that the new generation is well prepared to advance policy relevant research on vulnerability, impacts, adaptation, as well as to support the coordination, and facilitate the dissemination and practical application of this research for the benefit of society.
With a growing network of scientists, practitioners and decision makers working together with collaborative partners, PROVIA provides an excellent opportunity to foster the professional development of young scholars engaged in climate change VIA research. This could also serve to advance the status and visibility of PROVIA as a key platform for adaptation research, and to build a new platform of young researchers under PROVIA Young Researcher Fellowship Programme.
Initially, PROVIA will announce a pilot fellowship program for young researchers interested in contributing to the work on climate change vulnerability, impacts and adaptation (VIA). Over the course of the pilot program, we will take feedback to improve the fellowship programme.
Following the London workshop on “Scientific Approaches to the Monitoring and Evaluation of Climate Adaptation” organized by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in August 2013, the PROVIA Scientific Steering Committee at its meeting in Fortaleza, Brazil, May 2014 approved commencing a set of papers and a stakeholder inception workshop to connect the findings to policy and practice.
The set of commissioned papers will focus on different scientific aspects related to:
- Approaches for measuring, monitoring and evaluating programmatic and systematic adaptation interventions
- Monitoring and evaluation across scale – linking between institutional and national level actions and local impacts and benefit, and
- Lessons from monitoring and evaluation approaches in key development sectors for climate change adaptation.
The London workshop and other reports from the follow-up activity will be made available in PROVIA website.
PROVIA has launched an online consultation to gather public opinion on the most important issues and challenges in climate change Vulnerability, Impact and Adaptation (VIA). The aim is to collect and analyses public opinions that allows us to develop long-term strategic programme. We would like to reach out to a wider community from all over to know the issues and barriers in VIA for effective adaptation. It aims to reach out especially to experts, practitioners, policymakers and civil society, and to understand challenges and needs that will help to develop a robust action oriented activities for the benefit of society.
This survey also aims to improve PROVIA’s relevance through a participatory public consultation on:
- Critical climate change adaptation needs at the national country level, and
- How PROVIA can best meet those needs.
To access the survey click here
Professor Yinlong XU a member of PROVIA Scientific Steering Committee did a keynote presentation at the symposium on Overview on Research Methodology of Climate Change Adaptation and Outlook on the Future Directions
in the plenary session.
PROVIA activities were also introduced, with highlights of two PROVIA publications:
- Research Priorities on Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation - Responding to the Climate Change Challenge, and
- PROVIA Guidance on Assessing Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation to Climate Change
Professor Xu was also invited to participate in the roundtable meeting to discuss on a theme on “Earth Observation for the Development of Silk Road Economic Belt”, which aims to boost cooperation on Earth Observation for the development of Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB), strengthen the cooperative research in the following areas: agriculture, natural resources, urbanization and transport infrastructure, ecosystem, environment, world heritage, disaster mitigation, and global change. An International Scientific Committee on Earth Observation for the sustainable development of SREB is intended to establish. PROVIA is invited to the event.
For more information visit: http://www.iseoca.org/dct/page/1
13 – 17 October 2014
The Climate Symposium 2014
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27 – 29 October 2014
The APEC Climate Symposium 2014 (APCS 2014)
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2 – 4 September 2015
Call for Papers: “World Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation”
Abstract deadline: 20th December 2014
Full paper deadline: 30th March 2015
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