What is climate change adaptation?

  • Climate change adaptation is action by which different actors reduce, prepare for and adapt to climate change and its impacts.​​
  • Adaptation reduces the vulnerability of people, society and nature to the consequences of climate change.​
  • Adaptation measures have two time spans: we must prepare for extreme weather phenomena and sudden changes now, without forgetting the long-term (2050–2100) and average climate change.​
  • ​Climate change adaptation is tied to a specific place and its nature, conditions, institutions, communities, infrastructure, etc.Adaptation cannot be transferred to others or elsewhere – improving adaptability in one place will not help elsewhere (e.g. flood barriers only protect the areas behind them)​.
  • There is no single (numerical) goal for adaptation, but the goal is going in the right direction towards the (moving) goal.
Helsinki Cathedral in the horizon, winter sea in the foreground

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines climate change risk as comprising three factors: hazard, exposure and vulnerability. Often, the definition also covers the adaptability of actors, i.e. their ability to reduce vulnerability and exposure, as well as the ability to carry out short-term preparedness and long-term adaptation measures.