Module 5:

Implementing and monitoring an adaptation strategy

How to develop an adaptation strategy

For developing an adaptation strategy, four steps are required.

1. step: Compiling and completing measures

The goal of strategy development is to have a robust and balanced strategy, reducing your business' vulnerability to climate change impacts in the short, medium and long- term and allowing you to identify opportunities resulting from climate change. The first step in developing a climate change adaptation strategy is to review the comprehensiveness of the various measures selected before. One key aspect of comprehensiveness is to include short-, medium- as well as long-term initiatives. Among these you should also consider measures which might not address risks of highest priority but which are easy to implement and cost-effective. Furthermore, a balanced adaptation strategy should include both concrete measures for adaptation and initiatives to strengthen the adaptive capacities of your organisation. The latter includes for example capacity building for your employees, or systems for monitoring and evaluating your activities.

2. step: Identifying synergies and conflicts

In your strategy you seek to merge the previously identified individual measures into a coherent strategy. The second step for achieving this is to analyse the mutual interactions of your measures, i.e. the synergies and conflicts. Synergies and conflicts can exist between different adaptation measures, but also between measures and your company’s objectives and strategies. Identifying synergies and conflicts is essential for making efficient use of available resources. A frequent problem in technological adaptation measures is conflicts with goals of climate protection. For instance, technologies like air conditioning might ease the problem of extended heat periods, but due to its high energy intensity it goes against climate protection goals. Similarly, infrastructure projects might require large amounts of cement, a highly energy intensive product.

3. step: Planning integration

Instead of adopting an independent adaptation strategy it is usually more effective and efficient to integrate climate risks and adaptation aspects into general corporate strategies. By mainstreaming adaptation aspects into daily business decisions and existing management systems you ensure that adaptation is understood and implemented throughout your organisational structures and business processes.

There are different entry points for integrating adaptation into the organisation and the processes of a company. A key entry point for a strategic approach to adaptation is the long-term vision of a company and, subsequently, its business strategy. Integrating adaptation into the long-term vision serves to describe how the company positions itself in a world with a changing climate. Integration at the level of business strategy means to include long-term considerations about the influence of climate change on markets and the resulting risks and opportunities for the company into the strategic planning of the business.

With rising legislative and societal demands a number of companies already have a climate strategy focusing on mitigation in place, reducing negative impacts on the global climate. Even though mitigation continues to be of high priority, adaptation, i.e. preparing for climate change impacts, should be made part of any climate strategy.

At a management and operational level further entry points are existing systems of risk, environmental and sustainability management.

The following table provides you with an overview of how this integration process can look like in the various parts of a company:

Area or process within company Integration activity
Product development Include climate projections in R&D planning
Supply chain management Screen suppliers for their climate-preparedness
Infrastructure and operations Include new or increased risks
Health and safety Brief employees about new risks
Corporate philanthropy Donate for or start projects for the most vulnerable
Recruitment Present company as a climate-proof employer that is well prepared
Internal trainings Inform employees about climate risks

4. step: Identifying and overcoming barriers to implementation

There are numerous potential barriers to integrating and implementing adaptation measures. These include perceptive, behavioral, financial, technological, political, social and institutional aspects. One of the major challenges to the timely implementation of adaptation measures is related to the short-term planning horizon of companies, in particular SMEs. For some, thinking about and preparing for climate change impacts 3-5 years in the future is a task that has no precedent. This challenge can be overcome by engaging with consultants that specialize in the topic. Other barriers exist due to a lack of problem awareness, uncertainty, lack of information and/or temporal misjudgment. For all these barriers, unique solutions exist that need to be identified.

References and further information

2011 Beermann – Linking corporate climate adaptation strategies with resilience thinking.pdf

2011 Beermann – Linking corporate climate adaptation strategies with resilience thinking.pdf

A paper on identifying risks and opportunities in coping with climate change impacts and describing management strategies – by M. Beermann.

Format: pdf
Size: 264 kB
Date: 16.03.2016


The importance of formalizing your adaptation strategy