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Identifying and Analysing Adaptation Turning Points in the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region; HI-AWARE Working Paper 18

  • Werners, S.
  • Bhadwal, S.
  • Ahmad, B.
  • Gioli, G.
  • Regmi, B.
  • Pandey, A.
  • Mamnun, N.
  • Hassan, T.
  • Varma, N.
  • Saeed, B. A.
  • Summary

This framework document aims to introduce a proactive approach to assess adaptation needs and encourage timely adaptation. The idea behind this approach is that if an assessment shows that specific policies and practices of stakeholders are at risk of failure due to climate change, corrections are encouraged and losses or damages can be prevented. The approach focuses on identifying whether and when the performance of policies, management, and social-cultural practices drops below a decisive level due to climate change, and adaptation is required.


We call the moment at which a decisive change in performance is reached an ‘adaptation turning point’. The assessment of turning points shows there is an imperative to act, and it aims to help proactively and timely plan alternative strategies. In cases with a development or implementation deficit and where the performance of the existing policies and practices is already unsatisfactory, the turning point lies in the past. If, in these cases, changes can be attributed to climate change, the assessment of turning points helps identify the adaptation gap.


With respect to new practices, the assessment of turning points shows when these practices become viable in order to facilitate a smooth transition to alternative systems and practices. For development policies, an adaptation turning point assessment asks whether development goals are achievable under climate change and can be sustained.


By introducing this approach in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region we want to ascertain whether the assessment is a meaningful addition to adaptation approaches by allowing, in particular, for a substantial dialogue between stakeholders and scientists about the amount of change that is acceptable, when conditions could be reached that are unacceptable or more favourable, how likely these conditions are, and what adaptation to consider. The approach is not to be understood in isolation, but connects to other work in the HI-AWARE project, in particular the development of adaptation pathways and the assessment of critical moments.


With this document we aim to deliver a framework for identifying adaptation turning points. The document offers a broad scoping of the approach, next to the identification of its potential application in HI-AWARE. This also marks the start of the dialogue in the HI-AWARE project on the applicability and value of the concept in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. The assessment of adaptation turning points will be a contribution to other research in HI-AWARE, such as adaptation pathways development.

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  • Publisher Name:
    International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)
  • Publisher Place:
    Kathmandu, Nepal