Glacial Flooding & Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Exchange and Field Training July 11-24, 2013 in Huaraz, Peru HighMountains.org/workshop/peru-2013
Climate resilience in the eastern Himalayas: Integrated approaches to assessing vulnerability and developing adaptation strategies Ryan Bartlett and Sarah Freeman World Wildlife Fund-‐US Introduction As climate change adaptation has become an increasingly critical global imperative, a number of climate change vulnerability assessment (CCVA) frameworks, methodologies, and decision support tools have emerged for various audiences, from conservation to development and disaster risk reduction. These have, however, been limited in their utility for adaptation practitioners for various reasons: requirements for robust data and high technical capacity; overly broad or fine geographic scales at the national or highly localized levels; and a limited focus on community vulnerability instead of the larger system level vulnerabilities that act as drivers of risk for both humans and wildlife. In this context, WWF is developing its own CCVA framework tailored to the unique socio-‐ environmental conservation objectives of its priority landscapes. This approach, Flowing Forward (FF), provides a flexible framework for determining climate change vulnerability and identifying adaptation strategies across highly diverse landscapes. It is an integrated approach, emphasizing the role that both natural and sustainably managed systems play in building resilience in social-‐ecological systems. It was born out of a need for a VA approach to conservation planning that balances conservation and biodiversity objectives with local livelihood needs and tackles two critical challenges in remote land-‐-‐ and sea-‐scapes: a lack of sufficient climate data and a broad diversity of stakeholders and conservation objectives. Flowing Forward was thus developed to synthesize information from multiple, diverse sources and is based on consensus building to promote robust adaptation decisions that increase options in the face of uncertainty. Using the example application of the FF framework in the unique high mountain Chitwan-‐ Annapurna Landscape (CHAL) of the Gandaki River Basin in the Nepali Eastern Himalayas, this paper briefly highlights how stakeholder and participatory approaches at multiple levels can generate knowledge to fill key information gaps and build consensus on both climate risk and adaptation actions. Flowing Forward Originally developed for the World Bank as policy guidance targeted at the water resource management sector (Quesne, et al., 2010), FF has since evolved through multiple applications in landscapes in Coastal East Africa, the Mekong, and the Eastern Himalayas to
a more integrated, comprehensive assessment framework at the landscape scale. It has two main components: the assessment framework and the process through which the framework is implemented. The framework is an outline of the basic components of the entire assessment, while the process details the steps involved in determining vulnerability and eventually adaptation interventions from raw information on climate, development and resilience of the system being analyzed. To use an analogy, the assessment framework is the skeletal base for the muscles and tissues of the process. A basic schematic of the framework is outlined in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Schematic of the steps in the Flowing Forward assessment framework. The orange and green boxes are highlighted as each box represents multiple steps.
There are four major stages of the process, each with their own distinct objectives: 1) Assessment Inception: definition of study objectives, the spatial and temporal scope and identification of key stakeholders 2) Background Research: collection of existing information and generation of new knowledge as necessary, including a literature review highlighting converging and diverging information, analysis of existing hydrometeorological data, and assessment of community perceptions of climate change and vulnerability. 3) Stakeholder Workshop: dissemination of synthesized information, determination of and consensus building on priority vulnerabilities, and development of adaptation interventions. 4) Follow Up: communication of the output of stakeholder workshop to decision makers and communities. The next section briefly summarizes this process for the Gandaki, highlighting the particular importance of stakeholder contributions throughout. Applying Flowing Forward to the Gandaki Basin Located in the central region of Nepal’s Eastern Himalayas, the Chitwan Annapurna Landscape (CHAL) was developed to provide greater north-‐south connectivity across multiple renown conservation areas and national parks in central Nepal. It contains the entirety of the Gandaki Basin, stretching across a vast region of varied topography, climates, and ecosystems. Home to rich biodiversity and ecosystem services that are increasingly important to both local livelihoods and the larger national economy, it is a landscape of growing national importance, facing numerous, increasing threats from rapid economic development that will only be augmented with climate change.
The VA is part of a large USAID funded collaborative conservation and development program, Hariyo Ban, integrating climate change adaptation, reduced environmental degradation and deforestation (REDD), and sustainable livelihoods development in this landscape. In the context of these dual conservation and sustainable development objectives, the assessment demanded an integrated approach measuring both human and natural system vulnerabilities and the interactions between the two. As a result, the core building blocks of the Flowing Forward framework-‐-‐analysis units and sub-‐units— explicitly needed to include both human and natural systems. The first key component of the FF framework, units and sub-‐units were developed by WWF-‐US staff in conjunction with WWF-‐Nepal experts on the ecosystems and biodiversity of the landscape and program partners from CARE, experts on livelihoods and development. However, as with all components of the framework, these were further defined and refined by key stakeholders in the basin during the first analysis session of the participatory workshop. In FF, units act as the larger political or ecoregional divisions for the landscape, both geographically and thematically, and sub-‐units are the actual systems whose vulnerabilities are analyzed in the framework. In the Gandaki, units represent the standard horizontal altitudinal ecoregion gradients of the Nepali Himalayas that delineate very different climates and ecosystems—the High Himalaya, High Mountains, Middle Mountains, and Churia Range/Siwalik Hills (see Figure 2). Sub-‐units are then those systems that geographically specific to each ecoregion, e.g. Alpine Forests in the High Himalaya or rural settlements in the Middle Mountains. These are then analyzed by stakeholders during the participatory workshop to determine and prioritize vulnerability, and develop adaptation actions. Figure 2. The unit divisions of the Chitwan-Annapurna Landscape (CHAL), which approximates the Gandaki Basin, based on altitudinal gradients that run east-west across Nepal
Stakeholder engagement in the Gandaki Basin VA Stakeholder engagement was achieved through various activities: direct community engagement through the CARE developed Community Vulnerability and Capacity Analysis (CVCAs) tools used to develop Community Adaptation Plans (CAPs) at the local level; and inclusion of technical experts and decision makers in the preparation and synthesis of information both in the background research stage of the process and the final stakeholder workshop which brought together decision-‐makers, communities and technical experts. Community Climate Vulnerability Assessments The Flowing Forward process connects these community level CAPs into a regional assessment of climate vulnerability. These community assessments also provide crucial information for the vulnerability assessment process particularly where data is scarce. Specifically, there are six specific areas where this information is used to inform various steps of the vulnerability analysis process. Error! Reference source not found.Error! Reference source not found. provides a brief overview of the main areas of information gathered from communities and where they are included in the overall FF analysis framework. Table 1 Community input into the Flowing Forward Analysis Framework. Flowing Forward Analysis Framework Steps
Six Key Questions from Community VAs
Identify Analysis Units 1 2 3 4 5 6
Community resource use/ livelihoods patterns Change over time in resource base and underlying reasons Perceived/ experienced climate 'hazards'/events & climate patterns & and Impacts of the above on livelihoods and resource use Existing coping strategies/ adaptive capacity Perceived needs to enhance adaptive capacity
Determine Exposure Climate Scenarios
* * *
* * *
Climate-‐ Development Development Scenarios Impacts
* * * * *
* * *
Social Adaptive Capacity Impact Severity Rating
* * *
* * * * *
In Nepal, there is already strong community level participation in the adaptation process, which helped facilitate the inclusion of communities in the VA process in the CHAL. Recently, there has been an emphasis on the impacts of climate change on diverse social groups, resource availability and distribution, community access to public services and general issues of equity. In 2012, the National Framework on Local Adaptation Plan for Action provided a broader framing for community level adaptation planning and implementation through Community Adaptation Plans (CAPs). Within this context, the Hariyo Ban program conducted community vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning exercises in six different sites in the CHAL from 2011 to 2012. These sites were selected to be representative of different ecological zones of the landscape (i.e. high mountains, middle hills and low lands). The outputs of these community assessments were then used to inform the larger stakeholder workshop through presentations, workshop exercises, and through the direct engagement of some of the community representatives in the workshop itself. The final outputs of the landscape
level assessment are now in the process of being fed back into ongoing community adaptation planning and implementation. Background Information Generation and Synthesis Gathering and generating background information to inform the vulnerability assessment process is another critical point of involvement for stakeholders and partners from the landscape. This step begins with an evaluation of information assets and gaps, including trends in climate (temperature and precipitation), economic development, basic information on ecosystems and infrastructure in the landscape, and trends in socioeconomics and demographics. Relevant experts in these areas are then engaged to fill these gaps. In the case of the ChAL, additional studies were conducted on infrastructure development, modeled projections of vegetation and habitat change due to climate change, and a summary report of the community VAs conducted in the landscape by CARE, as mentioned in the previous section. The individuals involved in these studies were included in subsequent work and meetings leading up to and during the stakeholder workshop. Additionally, brief presentations were made during the workshop itself to communicate these studies, thus allowing room for feedback during the workshop, which was also crucial for validating the approach and information being used in the assessment. The treatment of climate data in the VA process deserves specific mention due to both its centrality in the process and its often contentious nature. WWF staff analyzed existing peer-‐reviewed studies on climate in the basin to determine consensus and divergence in the literature on key climate trends (i.e. precipitation and temperature). Due to the uncertainty around climate projections, this was complemented by a rapid review of primary data on precipitation and temperature trends and compared with both the literature and community perceptions collected during the community VA process. Then, the areas of confluence between the three sources of information were emphasized in the climate scenarios developed in the workshop. Areas of divergence were used to determine where robust adaptation actions that expand options under a variety of futures should emphasized during the adaptation planning exercises of the stakeholder workshop. Stakeholder Workshop The core of the FF assessment process, the participatory stakeholder workshop is the key venue for engagement with community leaders, decision-‐makers, scientists, NGOs, and other important actors in the landscape. While considerable analysis is done prior, including the identification of analysis units, filling information gaps, and direct engagement with local communities through the CVCAs, it is designed to feed into the workshop where stakeholders rapidly assess vulnerabilities and prioritize adaptation actions. Stakeholder participants in the Nepal workshop included representatives from Hariyo Ban program partners WWF-‐Nepal, CARE, the Nepali National Trust for the Conservation of Nature (NTNC), and the Federation of Community Forestry Users of Nepal (FECOFUN); various government institutions including the Departments of Forestry, Irrigation, and Agriculture, District and Village Development Committees; and local NGOs. Divided by area of expertise into six separate thematic breakout groups based on units and different sub-‐
unit types (forests, freshwater, sub-‐catchments, agriculture, infrastructure, and species), workshop participants moved through the FF framework, rating sub-‐units according to factors that measure exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity.1 Facilitated by WWF and partner program staff, these breakout groups discussed and rated each sub-‐unit on a scale of 1-‐5 (5 being the most vulnerable) for each factor, including brief explanations as to why the rating was chosen. These scores were then calculated to determine final vulnerability rankings to allow for simple prioritization in developing adaptation actions. After re-‐evaluating and revising these rankings as part of the prioritization process, participants then developed adaptation actions to address either the most resilient or most vulnerable systems (depending on their management priorities), outlining rough geographic areas to focus the work, potential partners to involve, synergies with existing efforts, and timelines. WWF and Hariyo Ban program staff are now in the process of integrating these recommended actions into work plans for the coming years of the program. Conclusions The Flowing Forward CCVA process takes a unique, integrated approach in adaptation planning by triangulating information from multiple sources, including peer-‐reviewed science, and most importantly, direct stakeholder input. The entire framework is directly dependent on, and guided by, stakeholders who provide critical inputs throughout the process. Most critically, they help determine and prioritize the key system-‐level drivers of vulnerability and propose adaptation interventions that guide WWF and partner work in future years of the program. This helps build capacity and create ownership for those with the largest stake in successful, long-‐term adaptation. Works Cited Quesne, T. L., Matthews, J. H., Heyden, C. V., Wickel, A., Wilby, R., Hartmann, J., et al. (2010). Freshwater Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change in Water Resource Management and Biodiversity Conservation. WWF. The World Bank.
Based on extensive reviews of the vulnerability assessment literature, these have been developed and continually honed by WWF-US over the multiple applications of Flowing Forward in Africa and Asia. A forthcoming guidance manual details in much greater detail their origins and the rationale behind their development.
Published on Sep 25, 2013
As climate change adaptation has become an increasingly critical global imperative, a number of climate change vulnerability assessment (CCV...