Principles of good Climate Risk Adaptation


Good adaptation is based on good information and communication within a community that is willing to adapt. It is important that all involved have an understanding of:

  • The objectives of the process.
  • Adaptation measures including feasibility.
  • A desire for successful and appropriate adaptation.


Implementing appropriate adaptation options, avoiding inappropriate actions and adopting a continuous improvement plan are consistent with the precautionary approach (Rio Declaration, principle 15).


The principles below have evolved through practice, and will help develop a good adaptation strategy:

  • Work in partnership – identify and engage your community and keep them well informed.
  • Understand risks and thresholds, including associated uncertainties.
  • Frame and communicate SMART* objectives/outcomes before starting out.
  • Manage climate and non-climate risks using a balanced approach – assess and implement your approach to adaptation in the context of overall sustainability and development objectives.
  • Focus on actions to manage priority climate risks – identify key climate risks and opportunities.
  • Address risks associated with today’s climate variability and extremes as a starting point to addressing risks and opportunities associated with longer-term climate change.
  • Use adaptive management to cope with uncertainty – recognise the value of a phased approach to cope with uncertainty.
  • Recognise the value of no/low regrets and win-win adaptation options in terms of cost-effectiveness and multiple benefits.
  • Avoid actions that limit future adaptations or restrict adaptive actions of others.
  • Review the continued effectiveness of adaptation decisions by monitoring and re-evaluating risks.

* SMART objectives – specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented, and time-bound objectives.