On the development of a regional climate change adaptation plan: Integrating model-assisted projections and stakeholders' perceptions

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Climate change is expected to have strong social-ecological implications, with global but especially regional and local challenges. To assess the climatic vulnerability of a given territory, it is necessary to evaluate its exposure to climate change and its adaptive capacity. This study describes the development of an Action Plan for Adapting to Climate Change in the Tâmega and Sousa Region, a mountainous inter-municipal community in the North of Portugal. The goals were to identify the main impacts of climate change on water resources, agriculture, forests, biodiversity, and socioeconomic sectors, as well as to develop a plan, merging local and scientific knowledge through a transdisciplinary lens. This study describes an approach that combines modelling methods, applied in the different sectors, and participatory methods, based on the analysis of the perceptions of local actors. Results indicate that the target region will experience a generalized increase in temperature and a decrease in precipitation, which will negatively impact all studied social-ecological dimensions. Overall, local business and institutional agents perceive the primary and tourism sectors as the most vulnerable in the region. The described framework demonstrates the engagement process between relevant scientific experts and local practitioners, as well as how it is critical to understand the impacts of climate change and to support the co-design of an adaptation plan, which in turn can guide political and economic decision-making towards effective implementation of the plan. In addition, the difficulties and challenges encountered during this process are discussed to support future plans and strategies for local adaptation.
Adaptation planning , Water resources