Risk-based Climate Change Impact Chains: an innovative approach to understand climate change risks

“Climate change is fun!”- This is how the Introductory Workshop on Climate Change Impact Chains was kicked off on June 15th 2016 as participants were asked to describe in one word what climate change means to them.

And why not trying to see the bright side? After all there is enough alarmism and threatening projections around the warming of our atmosphere. This and other half-provoking, half-humorous statements (“Climate change is a hot issue!”) set the tone of this workshop series: of course, climate change poses significant risks to Thailand, but the collective will to increase the country’s capacities and skills to cope with its effects has maybe never been felt so strongly than at these two in-depth workshops that focused on the cause-and-effect relationships of climate change impacts in Thailand’s key sectors.

While the first event (15th June) was aimed at introducing the rationale behind climate change impact chains to a large audience ranging from government stakeholders to representatives from academia, (scientific) institutes and (cross-sectoral) national agencies, the second workshop (27th-29th June) consisted in a 3-day hands-on application of the tool for Thailand’s priority sectors in regards to climate change planning and adaptation.

Impact chains offer the opportunity to develop in a participatory process a deeper understanding of key climate change impacts and risk factors in a given system or sector. Building on Thailand’s first nation-wide Vulnerability Assessment study conducted in 2015, the elaboration of national, sector-based impact chains is part of Thailand’s NAP process, and specifically aimed at increasing the understanding of climate change risks and impacts as well as highlighting interlinkages across sectors to ultimately serve as a basis for the identification of national adaptation priorities and options.

While climate change impact chains have been around for some time, the innovation in using this tool in Thailand lies in the risk-based approach of these chains. Leaning on the framework of the IPCC AR5, government representatives, in close collaboration with academia, have worked on an impact chain model designed around the risk concept in order to enable a more action-oriented approach for policy making in the field of climate change adaptation.

In September, a third meeting will be held in the frame of the NAP Expert Platform to present the finalized version of the six national climate change impact chains. Yet, this dissemination event should only mark the beginning of the ‘impact chain journey’: the impact chain methodology will further be used in sub-national risk-assessment activities, while also continuously being improved at the national sector-level. 

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