CCCA has a broad base of knowledge and expertise. The Consortium’s members and associated partners, complemented by their respective international networks, cover a wide spectrum of disciplines and sectors related to climate change adaptation.

The width of the Consortium’s knowledge base can be illustrated by a diagram representing eight thematic areas and cross-cutting issues:

Thematic areas

1. Agrifood, infrastructure, urban deltas and rivers
More frequent and more intense precipitation, rising sea levels and land subsidence conspire to pose serious challenges to sea coasts and river deltas, many of which are urbanizing at a fast rate. Challenges include more frequent and more widespread flooding; salt water intrusion; damage to buildings, infrastructures and agriculture. A broad range of ideas for adaptive measures need to be integrated for the purpose of planning and design of buildings, infrastructures, urban zones, cities and even entire delta areas.

2: Global, regional and local water systems
Climate change will have impacts on fresh water cycles at many levels. Droughts and rising temperatures may lead to (drinking) water shortages, crop failures, groundwater depletion, increase of water salinity, erosion, permafrost melting, coastal ecosystem loss. Ultimately, these challenges could force human migrations at massive scales. There is a need for integrated measures that take all aspects of these problems on board.

3: Climate Change and Public Health
Both climate change and certain adaptation measures (such as increased water storage capacity) can affect public health. Air quality may worsen, water quality and availability and sanitation standards may diminish, heat may affect health and work productivity, warmer and/or wetter weather may increase risks of infectious diseases, and extreme natural events may have severe impacts on human health as well. There is a need to assess and shape public health effects of combinations of all these potential impacts.

4: Extreme weather events and natural hazards
Climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as storms, heavy rainfall, heat waves and droughts. More often than today, such extreme weather will result in natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes, floods, landslides, avalanches, wildfires and dust storms. Adaptation measures must take into account reliable forecasts of changing patterns of extreme weather and major calamities.

Cross-cutting issues

1. Modelling, monitoring and risk assessment
Climate change affects many variables in complex systems. Apart from ‘simple’ effects on temperatures, water cycles and atmosphere, large ecosystems and even socio-economic, cultural and political systems undergo complex changes as well. There is great potential for integrated, multisectoral tools that can model, monitor and map the far-reaching (potential) effects of both climate change and climate change adaptations. They require appropriate sets of sensing technologies, databases, integrated numerical models, and computing facilities, but they also require new methodologies and proper quality standards and benchmarks.

2: Governance and Law
Climate change adaptation planning and measures need effective governance and compliance with (inter)national treaties and regulations, if only because of the growing potential for water-, food- and migration-related conflict. Governments, companies and NGOs around the world require practical, hands-on knowledge of law, effective institutions, and best practices in planning, governance and policy-making at local, regional, national and global levels. Effective climate change adaptation demands action-oriented, place-based climate services that engage, enable and empower communities, knowledge brokers and scientists locally.

3: Finance, investment and climate economics
Climate change will have profound effects on economies and financial systems globally. Understanding those effects at local, regional, national and international levels is essential, not just for fully understanding the impact of climate change but for designing effective climate adaptation strategies as well. Risk insurance mechanisms need to incorporate and influence physical risks to buildings and infrastructures. Adaptation strategies need to take local financial and economic realities into account. Funders will need tools and criteria for proper funding procedures. Investors will need ways to transform climate adaptation into bankable projects.

4: Capacity building and education
For climate change adaptation to be effective, people with appropriate knowledge and skills are needed in nations, cities and villages around the world. At present, many low- and middle-income countries lack the capacity to fully embrace, develop and implement adaptation measures. Building this capacity is essential to any global climate adaptation strategy. Skills in demand include disseminating knowledge to relevant stakeholders, providing effective professional education (including online), developing effective curricula, and building learning societies.