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The National Adaptive Capacity framework. Key institutional functions for a changing climate

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The paper discusses the National Adaptive Capacity Framework (NAC). It indicates that under the NAC approach, adaptation is treated as an organic process - one which inevitably will grow and evolve in unexpected ways, since every country has a unique set of actors who play different roles in adaptation. To understand how well a country is currently performing in its core adaptation functions, one can use NAC to conduct a status assessment. The NAC assessment will help identify strengths and gaps in a country’s adaptation system, in order to understand where improvement may be needed or where strengths may enable rapid adaptation progress. It further notes that the NAC assessment might be used by planners, evaluators and advocates. The following characteristics of NAC are highlighted including:

adaptation as a capacity-building process
a “learning by doing” approach
participatory, transparent, multi-stakeholder processes
flexibility

The authors argues that NAC takes as its starting point the idea that all national adaptation systems will need to perform the following similar set of functions if adaptation is to proceed effectively:

assessment - the process of examining available information for the purpose of guiding decision-making
prioritisation - a process of assigning special importance to particular issues, areas, sectors, or populations
coordination - which helps avoid duplication or gaps, and can create economies of scale in responding to challenges
information management - which consists of collecting, analysing, and disseminating knowledge in support of adaptive activities
Climate Risk Reduction - which involves identifying specific risks to a given priority, evaluating the full range of options for addressing the risks, and then selecting and implementing risk reduction measures.

The following recommendations are made for when the NAC approach is considered:

it is important that an institutions involved have the resources, know-how, and authority to conduct assessments periodically
it is important for national planners to take the “bottom-up” activity into account in setting national priorities in places where centralised policy-making and planning for adaptation are moving slowly
decision makers need to establish clear guidelines and priorities for coordination processes
information should be packaged and targeted in a manner that is relevant for the concerns and needs of users
it is important for decision makers to consider technical approaches that draw upon indigenous knowledge or ecological management techniques when assessing risk reduction.