Step 4 Adaptive Capacity

The forth step in the climate change vulnerability assessment refers to the concept of “Adaptive Capacity”. Now that we know what the list of all potential impacts are (Step 1), whether or not we are exposed (Step 2), if we are exposed how sensitive is the issue (Step 3), we need to determine whether or not we have the systems in place to respond to the climate change impact. Do do this, we can ask the question, “Do I have systems in place to respond to the impact?”. The video below summarises the process of assessing adaptive capacity.



The IPCC defines Adaptive Capacity as the "ability of a system to adjust to climate change to moderate potential damages, to take advantage of opportunities, or to cope with the consequences".

Adaptive Capacity is usually scored using a high, medium or low rating and we usually consider four different types of systems, namely Research, Policy, Institutional Support, Finance and Community. If we consider an example indicator from the human settlement sector, Increase impacts on traditional and informal dwellings, for adaptive capacity we would ask the following questions:
  1. Is there local research on the particular climate change risk (e.g risks to traditional and informal dwellings)?
  2. Are there robust policies & programs in place to deal with the particular climate change risk (e.g risks to traditional and informal dwellings)?
  3. Is there institutional systems to deal with the particular climate change risk (e.g risks to traditional and informal dwellings)?
  4. Is there financial support for the particular climate change risk (e.g risks to traditional and informal dwellings)?
  5. Is there adaptive capacity within the community to deal with the particular climate change risk (e.g risks to traditional and informal dwellings)?
The Adaptive Capacity score is a summary of average High, Medium and Low scores of this different systems. 

Download the Vulnerability Assessment Score Sheet (excel) to complete your own sensitivity assessment.

Priority Indicators

Once you have assessed your adaptive capacity you can shortlist you priority climate change indicators. The video below is a summary of how you can go about finalising this shortlist.