This is a summary of a report on climate change adaptation research knowledge and capacity gaps in China, commissioned by DFID (UK) and IDRC (Canada) to consider support for a programme of applied research on climate adaptation in Asia. Although scientific research capacity on assessing the effects of climate change in China is strong, adaptation as a specific domain of research effort is a new concept.In accordance with donor priorities, the study involves the identification of vulnerable groups in geographical regions likely to face great stress from climate change. Four domains of adaptation research are seen to be relevant for China. These will provide a way to frame and link research across different disciplines and scales to prepare for appropriate adaptation strategies.
Local management of natural resources – apart from agricultural research, this area does not receive much research attention, but is likely to grow in importance. For example, rangeland management for livestock production
Local disaster risk reduction and resilience - assessment of the trends in wetland degradation or lowland vulnerability to sea level storm surges and flooding
Migration – highlights the need to improve the social and economic effectiveness of migration and to foster climate adaptation in both rural and urban areas
Practical and flexible organisational strategies for government – discusses the development of better institutions for adaptive management suited to Chinese conditions
In all of these research themes, a common challenge is the way that knowledge and learning are structured in China. Adaptation will require local learning as part of adaptive management. Some of the recommendations on knowledge and learning include:
new approaches to shared learning and expertise will be needed - these should recognise the value of diversity, rather than uniformity, in local and regional response strategies to foster resilience
innovation will be essential - new ways must be found to support local initiative and creativity in combination with scientific expertise and knowledge of good practice
there is a need to provide better local access to national scientific knowledge networks. Part of the issue is translating scientific and technical innovations into practical and locally relevant formats that can be easily accessed by practitioners
reforms of the agricultural extension system could contribute to building more responsive local knowledge and learning systems
build participatory research capacity among provincial academies - they can engage with both national-level interdisciplinary scientific support and county level implementing agencies to test adaptive management interventions.