At COP19 in Warsaw last year, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released a major new resource: the PROVIA Guidance on Assessing Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation to Climate Change, prepared by SEI and other partners to support adaptation planning around the world.

The nearly 200-page guide takes planners step by step through the process of assessing climate change impacts and vulnerability; identifying adaptation options; appraising those options; planning and implementing adaptation measures; and monitoring and evaluating adaptation.

Since its release last year, the guidance has been presented at several workshops and complemented by a “user companion” that makes it easier to use to support the National Adaptation Plans process.

Now, aiming to make PROVIA materials even more accessible, the authors are preparing to launch an electronic tool – developed in conjunction with the EU-funded MEDIATION project – that uses interactive decision trees to guide planners through the entire adaptation cycle.

On 5 December, seizing the opportunity of having key stakeholders at COP20 in Lima, SEI and partners hosted two hands-on consultation sessions with participants from developing countries and international organizations, who were invited to try using the tool and provide feedback to the developers.

“The tool recognizes that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to assessing vulnerability, impacts and adaptation,” says Richard Klein, a senior research fellow at SEI and one of the leaders of the project. “Instead, the tool emphasizes the diversity of adaptation challenges and the variety of methods and tools available to address them, without prescribing any specific approach as the only valid one.”

Alexander Bisaro, of the Global Climate Forum, led the two sessions: the first geared to national planners, the second to funding agencies (a previous session, in Santiago, had engaged with national planners and academics). UNEP staff also participated and provided feedback.

The first session, which included national planners from the Gambia and Benin, started with an overview of the tool and the general approach of the PROVIA guidance, as well as an assessment of participants’ needs and expectations. Then two groups were formed to test the tool with case studies: one of national planning for the Gambia, the other of the agriculture sector in Benin.

There were some challenges – for example, the agriculture group found some elements confusing, such as how to distinguish between public/private and collective/individual adaptation, and they got stuck on the information they were missing, rather than moving forward with the material they had.

But there was also a great deal of positive feedback, particularly from those working on the Gambia exercise. One participant called the tool “very user friendly and very detailed”. It was also noted that by covering the entire adaptation process, and treating it as a cycle, PROVIA got planners to think differently and more long-term. Not only will the tool be useful for National Adaptation Plan development, participants said, but it could also help with National Communications.

While participants said they could make sense of much of the tool without help, in both sessions it was noted that in-person training by experts would be very valuable to help users make the most of the tool. Attendees from the Gambia expressed great interest in hosting a more in-depth test of the tool to support planners in their country.

“These sessions were very useful and provided valuable input,” Klein says. “This feedback will now be considered by the developers, and a next version of the tool will be available for application and further testing and development. We hope the tool will serve to support least developed countries and other developing countries that are starting the preparation of their National Adaptation Plans, and also attract the interest of organizations operating sectorally and on local, subnational and regional scales.”

Learn more about the PROVIA Guidance »

See the PROVIA NAP user companion »One of the decision trees on the interactive tool, to examine ways to promote private, individual adaptation.