Climate change adaptation – responding proactively to the effects of climate change

A kneeling woman picking fruit.
The SDC helps people adapt to the effects of climate change. © Neil Palmer (Flickr/CIAT)

The consequences of climate change affect people in developing countries in particular. For this reason, the SDC is helping population groups that are exposed and vulnerable to the effects of climate change to improve their livelihoods. People are thus able to take proactive measures to cope with the long-term consequences of climate change and extreme weather events. 

SDC focus

The SDC promotes development that takes the present and future effects of climate change into consideration. The main goal of climate change adaptation is to mitigate the negative effects of a changing climate on people and to help those affected to adapt.   The sustainable use of land, water and forest resources is crucial to achieving this goal. This is the only way to mitigate the long-term and often drastic consequences for the population of the creeping progression of climate change and of increasingly frequent extreme weather events such as droughts and floods. The SDC supports partner countries in three principal areas: 

1. Promoting concrete climate adaptation strategies and measures

Example: With the Programme of adaptation to climate change in Peru (PACC) and the Indian Himalayas Climate Adaptation Programme (IHCAP), the SDC is helping to improve the livelihoods of mountain communities. Expertise from Switzerland and other countries helps the affected communities, as well as public and private institutions, to develop measures in the areas of water, food security and disaster risk reduction.

2. Underlying data for climate strategies

Example: The Capacity Building and Twinning for Climate Observing Systems (CATCOS) project helps developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia collect climate data used as the basis for climate strategies and measures.

3. National climate adaptation planning processes

Example: The SDC is assisting interested partner countries, including China, in drawing up national climate adaptation planning processes (NAPs) to enable them to develop integrated and coordinated solutions.

Background

Climate change affects the entire planet. However, the consequences of climate change vary enormously from one region to another because of different social and economic conditions. Socially and economically disadvantaged communities are particularly badly affected. Climate change exacerbates poverty, hunger and conflicts in the countries of the South in particular. The SDC is therefore committed to development that is climate compatible in the long term.

While people living in coastal regions are especially affected by rising sea levels, people in arid and desert regions are suffering from increasing water scarcity. Mountain regions, for their part, are experiencing flooding and mudslides ever more frequently. The livelihoods of the inhabitants of these regions are therefore in special need of protection.

Vulnerability and adaptability

Planning and implementing climate change mitigation measures requires technical expertise, financial resources and the commitment of political decision-makers. All of these are often in short supply in developing countries. Targeted measures can however reduce the climate risks faced by communities and preserve or even improve their livelihoods. For example, thanks to seasonal weather forecasts, smallholder farmers in Peru and India have been able to choose the optimal time to sow and harvest their crops, and have thereby markedly improved their yields.

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