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The new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II Report sends a stark message: the impacts of climate change are being felt right now – and there is a narrowing window of opportunity for action.

Species extinction, water shortages, food insecurity and rising sea levels are being experienced across the globe due to current rates of global warming, the report says. And vulnerable communities are feeling the consequences most.

To prepare for life under these new circumstances, the IPCC says scientific, indigenous and local knowledges are essential in climate adaptation. It also highlights adaptation solutions should be effective, feasible, and adhere to principles of justice.

The Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA) has championed this message and the importance of embracing diverse knowledge types since its launch in Glasgow at COP26. A global coalition committed to action-oriented research for adaptation, the ARA endorses a set of Adaptation Research for Impact Principles that enable this paradigm shift in practice.

“The adaptation community needs practical solutions for a new way forward to meet the urgency called for in the IPCC report. Action-driven research and innovation hold the keys to achieving that,” says Jesse DeMaria-Kinney, Head of the ARA Secretariat.

From developing drought and heat resistant crops, to restoring coastal mangroves to protect against storms, and strengthening social safety nets for vulnerable communities monitoring the spread of malaria and vector-borne disease, research and knowledge play a key role in helping communities cope with the impacts of climate change.

“Developing and rapidly putting these solutions into practice requires radical collaboration between research organisations, policymakers, funders, and grassroots organisations, which is precisely the transformative mission of the ARA,” says Anand Patwardhan, who is co-chair of the ARA alongside Rosalind West.

“The ARA acts as an advocate, facilitator and catalyst for that change by helping to mobilise and deliver resources for action-oriented research to the Global South,” he adds.

Nearly 40% of the world’s population lives in vulnerable settings, according to the IPCC report. This includes regions in the Global South, especially Africa and small island nations. While the intricacies of these settings and climate change create complex risks, ARA members say they can also provide opportunities for climate action.

“Africa has significant opportunities, with commitment, to gain from the available research on adaptation,” says Judith Omumbo from Kenya’s African Academy of Sciences.

“As rural populations become urbanised, there is the opportunity to influence city design, to input infrastructure that is energy-saving and to implement policies that eliminate the need for fossil fuels in the energy sector. Latest research outputs can also be implemented as governments are beginning to define their policies on climate change adaptation.”

However, achieving those goals will require increased capacity, investment and research opportunities in Africa and other vulnerable regions. Indeed, IPCC authors have publicly highlighted the wide disparity of published research available in climate science between the North and Global South.

The ARA aims to be a driving force in bridging these gaps with the help of its international membership of over 130 research, funding, policymaking, and grassroots organisations including India’s Mahila Housing Sewa Trust, Argentina’s Universidad Nacional de Rosario, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“Adapting to climate change requires local solutions and global collaboration,” says DeMaria-Kinney. “The ARA supports the research, innovation and investment that crosses boundaries to enable effective adaptation and resilience for those who need it the most.

The Adaptation Research for Impact Principles

Learn how our members and the broader adaptation community can benefit from the Principles.

Download the Principles Report

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