Know Climate Change

Adaptation and Mitigation


Types of Adaptation Measures

Adaptation measures or options vary depending on many factors. For example, adaptation measures can be classified based on the sectors considered.

Alternatively, adaptation measures can be classified based on the timing, goal and motive of their implementation. Accordingly, adaptation can include reactive or anticipatory actions, or can be planned or autonomous (UNFCCC, 2006 and TERI, IPCC, 2007).

Click each category to view its detail.

  • Reactive or Anticipatory
  • Reactive or Anticipatory

    Depending on the timing, goal and motive of its implementation, adaptation can be either reactive or anticipatory.

    Reactive adaptation occurs after the initial impacts of climate change become evident; however, anticipatory adaptation occurs before the impacts are obvious. For example, adaptation in a natural system is reactive by nature, while in a human system it can be both reactive as well as anticipatory.

  • Planned or Autonomous
  • Planned or Autonomous

    Planned adaptation is the result of deliberate policy decision, based on the awareness that conditions have changed or are expected to change, and that some form of action is required to maintain a desired state. Such anticipatory adaptation would progress from the top-down approach, through regulations, standards, and investment schemes.

    Such an anticipatory approach is particularly important for decisions that have long-term implications, such as the design and citing of long-lived infrastructure. For example, considerations of climate change in the National Water Plan of Bangladesh.

    Autonomous adaptation refers to those actions that are taken as individual institutions, enterprises, and communities independently adjust to their perceptions about climate risk. Such autonomous actions may be short-term adjustments, and are often considered as a reactive or bottom-up approach.

The adaptation measures can be summarized as follows.

Adaptation Options
Source: IPCC, 2001

With reference to the sectors considered, adaptation measures can be classified as below.

Click each category to view its detail.

With such a wide variety of adaptation measures available, it is worth knowing which measure to use in which situation.

The Tsho Rolpa Risk Reduction Project
Tsho Rolpa Lake is a glacier-fed lake located at an altitude of about 4,580 m in Nepal...

Tsho Rolpa Lake is a glacier-fed lake located at an altitude of about 4,580 m in Nepal. Warmer temperatures have led to the retreat of glacier and increased the glacier melt, and have thereby increased the size of the lake from 0.23 sq km (in 1957-58) to 1.65 sq km (in 1997). It has witnessed a seven-fold growth from 1960 to 2000. With such a substantial increase in size, the region runs the risk of a catastrophic glacial lake outburst flood.

In 1998, following an expert recommendation to lower the lake’s depth by 3 meters, a gate was constructed to allow a controlled release of water. In 2002, a four-year construction project was completed at the cost of US$ 3 million to partially drain the lake, given the scenarios of run-off and flood risk. Further, early warning systems have been established in 19 villages downstream. Thus, this comes across as an example of anticipatory adaptation.

Increase in size of the lake from 1957-59 to 1997
Source: IPCC, 2007

Partial Drainage of the Tsho Rolpa Lake
Source: IPCC, 2007

Bhutan’s NAPA (National Adaptation Programme of Action) provides an example of a cross-sectoral adaptation. It identifies the need for a forecasting and early warning system to provide seasonal forecasts for supporting decisions related to agricultural production, and to provide an early warning system and disaster management strategy for food security and emergency medicine to vulnerable communities in the case of extreme events (Bhutan, 2006).