This Policy Brief proposes recommendations on framing flexible adaptation governance at the crossroads of multiple dimensions (including the nature of climate hazards, institutional capacities and community engagement). They are structured on a tiered approach to inform international and regional adaptation policy dialogues while also calling attention to island context specificities for the successful implementation of long-term adaptation pathways at the national and sub-national levels.

Key Messages

  • Small islands demonstrate that flexibility is a key feature of adaptation governance to manage across timescales and risk drivers (climate-related and others), and therefore for the design of long-term adaptation pathways.
  • Flexibilising adaptation governance presents opportunities to navigate the complementarities across policy areas (long-term risk reduction and adaptation, sustainable development planning, disaster risk reduction), coordinate resources and actors, and balance actions between now and the medium-to-long term, while giving that margin of movement needed to adjust to changing hazard, vulnerability and risk conditions.
  • A cross-island study shows that two major enabling conditions are at the juncture of developing flexible governance for successful adaptation: i) institutional capacity on managing interests and resources, and ii) the community in inclusive decision-making and the importance of social acceptability. The former stems from cross-institutional dialogue and openness to cultivate partnerships, while the latter is captured in risk attitudes and island culture inherent in past to present development trends, experiences with risks and a willingness to explore locally tailored adaptive solutions.
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