Climate Change


The climate is changing. As a result of human activities there is virtual consensus amongst the scientific community that temperatures will rise, ocean currents will change, precipitation patterns and distribution will be modified and extreme climate events will become more intense and more frequent. Societies will need to adapt to the consequences of a changing climate and Madagascar is no exception.
Information and capacity to develop and implement adaptation measures in Madagascar is limited. To redress this situation and increase the capacity of national and local authorities in the face of climate change, the WWF Madagascar and Western Indian Ocean Programme is implementing the Climate Change Adaptation Capacity in Madagascar’ project.

This 4 year project, which is being funded by NORAD, will involve a series of activities throughout the country to improve the ability of decision makers, technical officers and local authorities to understand the threats posed by climate change and develop and implement responsive strategies to protect local communities and natural ecosystems from the expected impacts.

As part of this project, a series of factsheets has been produced. This factsheet, Climate Change Adaptation in Madagascar, provides an introduction to the basic concepts associated with climate change adaptation. It is complemented by a series of factsheets describing the potential impacts and possible adaptation strategies for each of the key sectors likely to be affected by climate change.
© Nick Nadeau
The view from my boulder, Madagascar.
© Nick Nadeau

What is Climate Change Adaptation?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines adaptation as “ Adjustment in natural or human systems to actual or expected climate stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities”. In other words, adaptation involves the implementation of measures to increase the resilience, or the ability to withstand shocks, of natural or human systems to
the direct or indirect effects of a changing climate.

Adaptation is usually focused on mitigating the adverse effects of climate change but importantly it can also involve the identification
of measures to enhance opportunities that may be associated with climate change.
© Olivier LANGRAND / WWF
Rice terraces High Plateau, Madagascar
© Olivier LANGRAND / WWF

Why an Adaptation Focus?

According to the most recent scientific evidence there is undeniable evidence that the global climate is changing as a result of greenhouse gas emissions. Even with the adoption of mitigation measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions some degree of global warming is inevitable. It is therefore essential that there is an increased focus on the development and implementation of
climate change adaptation strategies.

Adaptation will be particularly important in developing countries such as Madagascar. Despite having contributed very little to the overall climate change situation – Madagascar’s carbon dioxide emissions of 0.1 tonnes/capita are amongst the lowest in the world – Madagascar is home to large numbers of poor and vulnerable communities and sensitive and highly valuable ecosystems that are likely to be amongst the most affected by the impacts of climate change.
© Lucia Canedo Pouso
The sun setting in Anjialavabe, Madagascar
© Lucia Canedo Pouso

What types of Adaptation Measures Exist?

In broad terms, climate change adaptation measures can be categorized as follows:
  • Ecosystem based adaptation measures that optimize the use of existing natural systems to create and enhance resilience to climate change. Ecosystem based approaches should be the priority for implementation in Madagascar because of their important synergies with conservation and ecosystem protection activities.
  • Structural adaptation measures including engineering and other physical works, which often have a protective or remedial function against the effects of climate, change.
  • Institutional adaptation measures involving the creation, implementation and enforcement of regulatory, policy and education actions to organize institutional responses to climate change, enable the implementation of other categories of adaptation approaches and increase awareness amongst decision makers and communities.
Effective adaptation strategies include a suite of measures drawn from these different categories.

It is essential that adaptation strategies are integrated into local, regional and national planning frameworks to ensure their sustainability and facilitate ownership by local communities and responsible authorities.

Maladaptation occurs when adaptation responses are implemented that have adverse or secondary consequences that outweigh the benefits of the undertaking the strategy. For example construction of a seawall to protect local communities against sea level rise may adversely affect coastal ecosystems. Adaptation strategies therefore need to be developed in a multi-sectoral perspective with careful consideration of inter-dependent systems to avoid inadvertently increasing risks to other systems.
© WWF / Franziska Peuser
Meeting under the big tree
© WWF / Franziska Peuser

How is Adaptation different from Mitigation?

Mitigation refers to strategies or measures that reduce the causes of climate change primarily through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Adaptation refers to strategies or measures that reduce the impacts of climate change.

Mitigation and adaptation measures are complementary and need to be implemented in parallel.
© Nicolas Nadeau
Navigating rice terraces, Madagascar
© Nicolas Nadeau

How is Adaptation linked to Development?

The links between climate change adaptation and development are very strong. Adaptation to climate change should not be considered as being additional to development – in fact, adaptation strategies that increase the resilience of communities and natural systems to respond to climate change are often identical to development approaches. By selecting “no-regrets” adaptation measures - i.e. measures whose benefits exceed their costs - the potential for development benefits to occur alongside increased climate change resilience is optimized.
© Nicolas Nadeau
Market day, Ambalavao, Madagascar
© Nicolas Nadeau

How will Adaptation be Financed?

Implementation of effective adaptation strategies globally will require substantial funding. While estimation is complicated, recent analyses indicate that tens of billions of dollars – up to $86 billion by 2015 according to a recent UNDP estimate – will be required globally.

Sources of financing for implementation of adaptation in developing countries have been at the heart of recent global negotiations. While there is general agreement that developed countries should provide assistance to developing countries to allow them to implement adaptation strategies, there is no detailed plan to allow this to occur. An Adaptation Fund, which would allow funds to be disbursed from developed to developing countries for adaptation activities, has been established but is not yet operational. This issue is likely to be a focus of discussions in Copenhagen in December 2009.
Andringitra Strict Nature Reserve, Madagascar. 
© WWF / Olivier LANGRAND
Andringitra Strict Nature Reserve, Madagascar.
© WWF / Olivier LANGRAND

What is being done in Madagascar?

In 2006 the Government prepared a National Action Programme for Adaptation (NAPA). The NAPA identified a program of priority adaptation measures across various sectors in Madagascar. However, limited finances and capacity of Government has meant that implementation of the NAPA has been very limited to date.

In January 2008, the Government, together with a number of NGOs including WWF, convened a national workshop on climate change adaptation in Madagascar. The objective of this process was to reignite the discussion surrounding the priorities for adaptation in Madagascar. The recommendations of this workshop, which are in the process of being implemented, included establishment of an inter-ministerial taskforce on climate change, revision and updating of the NAPA, integration of climate change considerations into regional and local planning and consideration of climate change issues in protected area development and management.

NGOs and donors in close collaboration with the Malagasy government are implementing a number of projects addressing adaptation and mitigation strategies for climate change.
© WWF Madagascar / Martina Lippuner
Marie-Hélène Rasoalalanirina from WWF Andapa is talking to villagers about Slash-and-Burn
© WWF Madagascar / Martina Lippuner