The Cook Islands, like some of its neighboring small island developing states in the Pacific, has been endeavoring to build greater climate resilience. Since 2003, the government, in partnership with the Red Cross and other organizations, has undertaken vulnerability assessments and adaptation planning in several communities. Building on these initiatives, the government partnered with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Wide Fund for Nature to undertake a pilot adaptation activity that could be replicated across the country’s inhabited islands.
The basic idea was to field-test a participatory approach that integrates local knowledge and engages vulnerable communities in the formulation of adaptation plans that will be operable and most relevant to their circumstances. Integral to this idea was the development of practical tools, along with information and education, to ensure that the communities will have the necessary capacity to analyze climate risk and decide on adaptation strategies.
The community risk profiles and adaptation plans that came out of the project have enhanced the vulnerability assessment and risk reduction efforts in the pilot sites in two distinct ways. First, they have brought into focus a number of important risks previously not considered in government vulnerability and risk assessments. Second, they have triggered direct actions at the individual, household, and community levels that can augment limited public resources and capability for adaptation. The community vulnerability and risk atlases have been turned over to the national geographic information systems (GIS) office of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Planning, and are now informing government planning and decision-making processes. The incorporation of the community priority adaptation actions into government policies and programs is gaining momentum.
This publication captures and shares the process, tools, and lessons from the project. It shows how community-based risk assessment and participatory planning can be implemented and used to strengthen and speed up local adaptation. With this, we hope to contribute to the growing knowledge base on adaptation, as well as to advance ADB's interest in developing and scaling up innovative, low-cost adaptation interventions. (Source: ADB (2011): Community-Based Climate Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Planning.)