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Climate change adaptation is not a standalone issue. It needs to be considered as part of broader systems, including policies and interactions across a range of scales and sectors.
When considering adaptation action, we need to address not only our technical capacity to respond, but also leadership and policy drivers, power dynamics, inter-institutional systems, knowledge flows and issues of fairness and justice in how decisions are made. The Traction framework has been developed to help explore these factors and identify what enables change at the local level. It is by generating and sharing this understanding that we can achieve greater progress.
The Traction framework offers a powerful means to plan and review the progress of adaptation action in line with global, national and local agreements and policies. The enablers converge with the adaptation action attributes in the Paris Agreement, and respond to the demands of the IPCC’s 2022 report on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.
Five broad enablers have been identified that are important in enhancing adaptation response:
Our policies, legislation and leadership help to set goals, targets and outcomes for us to adapt to climate change. Climate adaptation needs to be embedded across a broad range of policy areas including health and wellbeing, social welfare, food, transport, environment and infrastructure and at a range of scales. Policy coherence is required so that our adaptation actions do not undermine or conflict with other policies but rather reinforce and offer synergies to increase our adaptive capacity to climate change.
Our governance processes and structures help to define and develop adaptation pathways. The pathways we follow, both by formal enforcement by state agencies in line with policy frameworks, and informal means through civil society networks, advocacy and community mechanisms will take us on different journeys to a climate-resilient society. Embedded in this is the need for the financial resourcing and the capacity, knowledge and experience that enable us to make informed decisions, including experience driven by local realities.
Our adaptation actions need to be supported by the best knowledge and evidence available at the time of taking action, with those of us who have the responsibility for developing plans and policies having a good understanding of the knowledge and evidence behind climate change adaptation and its relation to other policies and aspects of daily life. This builds upon what is important for people and places, as well as scientific evidence and data.
Effective adaptation action involves not only working across policy areas but bringing different parts of society together to work collaboratively on climate change responses, where our communities and civil society are involved in decision-making processes in a way that is fair and inclusive.
The people and places that are most vulnerable to climate change impacts must be given full consideration when planning our adaptation responses, fully embedding considerations of fairness. Some groups and communities are disproportionately impacted by the changing climate or may have limited means to participate in addressing climate action; this demands understanding and responding to gender and intersectional equity. Communities impacted by issues of vulnerability, inequality and disadvantage must be a part of collaboration and engaged in our framing of what are fair and just priorities for climate action. The voices of those most impacted by the changing climate need to be part of solution-building. Recognising this requires exploring underlying power dynamics that compound disadvantage; and creating space for reflective learning.
Traction framework matrix
The five Traction enablers build upon the principles, however each enabler also contributes to other enablers.
Integral to the five enablers are four principles:
1. Integrate across sectors and scales, recognising multi-level and interconnected aspects of climate, environment, poverty, social, economic, health and wellbeing
2. Build upon and reflect local realities, recognising the importance of bringing together scientific and technical expertise as well as lived experience and community knowledge and expertise.
3. Employ mechanisms to enhance collaboration. Accessible and accountable governance mechanisms are needed to enable public, private and finance sectors, civil society, and academia to work together to address climate risks in a way that demonstrates procedural justice in relation to decision-making and investment. This can include the work of intermediaries and knowledge brokers.
4. Move beyond incremental adaptation towards transformational change, solution-building and action-oriented approaches. Such approaches contribute to flourishing places, building on development anchors and no-regrets strategies to minimize risk of maladaptation