Vulnerability to climate change is shaped not only by exposure to climate stresses, but also by social, economic, institutional, technological, governance and other conditions. As a result, groups in developing countries are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.This working paper considers the priorities and principles for supporting climate change adaptation through scientific capacity, knowledge and inquiry. It argues that fundamental bases of research into climate change adaptation should be:a focus on the needs of highly vulnerable groups in developing countriesthe use of a ‘mainstreaming adaptation’ approach that focuses on reducing the vulnerability of different groups, and not just measures that are narrowly focused on climate impactsengagement and involvement of a broad range of decision makers, public agencies, civil society organisations, private sector stakeholders and vulnerable groups, as well as members of the science community.The paper outlines priority issues for consideration in defining the research agenda and approach, including:research projects should target decision-making: this will require projects at the local level, as well as efforts to target higher-level decision makersinvestigation of the variables that create conditions of vulnerability or resilience is required, especially of non-climatic factorsmore case studies are needed to identify the strategies, institutional arrangements, decision processes, implementation processes, and specific actions that have been used to cope with, adapt to, and recover from climate hazards, paying particular attention to consequences for poor and marginalised peoplebetter understanding of how people use information in decision-makingthe connections between vulnerability and adaptation to climate stresses with sustainable development and povertygreater use of data and modelling, and predictive tools.Principles that should underlie implementation of an adaptation science agenda include:substantial investments are needed in scientific and technical capacities in the developing worldthe research and assessment processes should engage stakeholders in substantive ways in all phases of the work, from selection of objectives, to project design, implementation, interpretation and communication of results, and application of knowledge in adaptation actionsimplementing an adaptation science agenda requires multidisciplinary teamsan important objective of assessments should be to build processes and networks that partner scientific, decision-making, practitioner and stakeholder communitiessignificant investments will be required of developing and donor country governments.
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