According to the IPCC, we are failing

March 14, 2022

Last week, the IPCC launched another alarming report about the impact of climate change and the challenges we face to adapt to the new circumstances. The report stresses that current adaptation implementations are too one-dimensional, focusing merely on short-term climate change risk reduction rather than long-term transformational adaptation. As a result, many actions taken until now have barely or negatively affected the impacts of climate change. For example, while building seawalls protects people and buildings from floods, it is not a suitable option for all geographic locations. As they are inflexible constructions that leave no room for natural ecosystems to adapt to changing circumstances, it might be far more effective to build proper irrigation systems or move cities away from the coastline.

To effectively facilitate developments that boost ecosystem resilience, we need transformative adaptation plans that are long-term, inclusive and keep pathways open. Examples of transformative adaptions are sustainable forest management targeting resilience, urban greening (which has many benefits), smart-grid energy technologies and the assessment and treatment of psychosocial impacts from extreme weather events. Either way, the plans should include climate risks that reach beyond our own country, taking into consideration indirect effects and unintended consequences of the implementation. However, these adaptations will not succeed without the support of inclusive governance, political commitment and public-private financing to reduce these risks. All in all, it is time we all start doing things radically different.

Burning questions:
  • How can incremental improvements build up to fundamental transitions?
  • How can different countries work together to effectively combat climate change impacts?

About the author(s)

With an eye on sustainability and societal well-being, Vivian specializes in the development and facilitation of solutions for fundamental sustainable transitions in society and the economy. Together with partners and clients within and outside the organization, she translates the FreedomLab framework on Deep Transitions to concrete workshop methods, business model innovations and investment opportunities. Vivian studied Global Business and Sustainability at Erasmus University Rotterdam, where she conducted research on how systems thinking and a paradox perspective can resolve conflicting tensions in corporate sustainability. Next to the development and operationalization of the framework, she is the driving force behind the creation of a sustainability strategy for all of Rasile Group's entities.‍

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