Date: 30 Jan 2014

Adaptation policies to increase terrestrial ecosystem resilience: potential utility of a multicriteria approach

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Abstract

Climate change is rapidly undermining terrestrial ecosystem resilience and capacity to continue providing their services to the benefit of humanity and nature. Because of the importance of terrestrial ecosystems to human well-being and supporting services, decision makers throughout the world are busy creating policy responses that secure multiple development and conservation objectives— including that of supporting terrestrial ecosystem resilience in the context of climate change. This article aims to advance analyses on climate policy evaluation and planning in the area of terrestrial ecosystem resilience by discussing adaptation policy options within the ecology-economy-social nexus. The paper evaluates these decisions in the realm of terrestrial ecosystem resilience and evaluates the utility of a set of criteria, indicators, and assessment methods, proposed by a new conceptual multi-criteria framework for pro-development climate policy and planning developed by the United Nations Environment Programme. Potential applications of a multicriteria approach to climate policy vis-à-vis terrestrial ecosystems are then explored through two hypothetical case study examples. The paper closes with a brief discussion of the utility of the multi-criteria approach in the context of other climate policy evaluation approaches, considers lessons learned as a result efforts to evaluate climate policy in the realm of terrestrial ecosystems, and reiterates the role of ecosystem resilience in creating sound policies and actions that support the integration of climate change and development goals.