This report examines how national governments can make effective decisions in a changing climate. It uses twelve case studies of national-level decision making processes that already manage short- and long-term risks within existing plans and policies. It notes that the ways in which governments anticipate and respond to the short- and long-term risks posed by climate change can have lasting consequences on the future of their countries. Even though many adaptation activities are led and implemented by local governments and communities, national-level decisions play key roles in enabling local and private-sector adaptation efforts, especially by providing information and guidance.The paper reports that climate impacts are occurring already, and are not just concerns for the future. The pace, scale and scope of these impacts require different approaches to decision making. It further notes that decision making will need to be proactive if it is to effectively prepare for the occurrence of such extremes, as well as other types of climate change. It argues that decision makers will need to take more aggressive action when making choices today that take future risks into account. This is especially true when planning long-term, expensive infrastructure projects, or taking other decisions that have long-lasting consequences. It also reports that decision makers need to be aware of and anticipate threshold points beyond which conditions or system performance can change dramatically, especially those thresholds having long-term, irreversible consequences, as they make adaptation choices. The report gives the following recommendations:
governments must recognise the public as a vital contributor when prioritising needs, providing information, determining acceptable levels of risk, and implementing adaptation decisions.
national governments should enable the development of social resources which can play a crucial role in building the adaptive capacity of vulnerable groups and populations
donors, governments, and the public should take stepts to protect and maintain basic ecosustem processes that provide a crucial buffer for adaptation processes
governments should convey to the public the scale and range of the risks, including known uncertainties, and expected impacts of climate change
governments should collect, analyse, and distribute decision-relevant information about climate risks and vulnerability as a basis for action
governments and donors should establish and fund long-term, regularly updated information management systems
planners and policymakers should integrate climate risks into existing decision making tools.