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New tool helps communities adapt to climate change

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The Open University (OU) in Scotland has contributed to a new framework, which helps organisations and communities around the world adapt to climate change.

The Traction Framework is designed to be universally applicable and has been piloted in very different locations, from Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, which are vulnerable to storms to Malawi in Southern Africa where climate change threatens to increase droughts and flooding. Funded by Scottish Government, the framework has been developed by sustainability charity Sniffer, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the OU in Scotland.

“It is critical that climate change adaptation actions are considered carefully, in order to avoid maladaptation that may put people at even greater risk in the future."

The framework focuses on five key areas to allow communities and organisations to understand what is helping and hindering them, including policies and leadership; governance; having the right evidence and data; collaborating with public, private and third sector groups; and taking ethical and justice considerations into account.

Leslie Mabon, Lecturer in Environmental Systems at the OU, said: “It is critical that climate change adaptation actions are considered carefully, in order to avoid maladaptation that may put people at even greater risk in the future. This new tool guides organisations and communities step-by-step through the things they need to consider to become more resilient to the effects of climate change in their specific environment, and ultimately protect people’s lives and livelihoods.”

Simon Anderson, a Senior Fellow at IIED said: “The searing heat in the United Kingdom and across much of Europe recently shows that nowhere is immune from the effects of climate change and we will all need to adapt.”

Ruth Wolstenholme, Managing Director of Sniffer said: “Climate change is a global issue, we need to learn from each other about how we can respond in ways that are fair, meaningful and replicable. The Traction Framework provides a mechanism for collating and sharing insights so that we can address the systems change that is needed.”

The tool can be used at a national, regional or local scale, anywhere in the world. In the Outer Hebrides, for example, the islands’ Climate Change Working Group used the framework to design questions and hold focus group discussions to explore progress in improving resilience to climate impacts, based on their local context and vulnerabilities. As a result, they now have a shared understanding of their climate challenge and have been able to prioritise the actions needed.

The Traction Framework is free to access via: http://tractionframework.org/traction-framework/

Users can access guidance on how to implement the framework, as well as examples of its use globally. Over time, it is hoped that the Traction website can serve as a library of case studies to support mutual learning globally on comprehensive adaptation action.

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