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SEI brief

Choosing salient approaches and methods for adaptation

There is increasing policy interest in the appraisal of options, as adaptation moves from theory to practice. At the same time, it is recognised that the appraisal of climate change adaptation involves a number of major challenges, particularly the consideration of uncertainty. In response, a number of existing and new decision support tools are being considered for adaptation.

Paul Watkiss / Published on 15 October 2013

Watkiss, P.; Hunt, A. (2013). Choosing salient approaches and methods for adaptation. Briefing Note Series: Summary of Methods and Case Study Examples from the MEDIATION Project. Funded by the EC’s 7FWP.

The European Commission FP7 funded MEDIATION project (Methodology for Effective Decision-making on Impacts and AdaptaTION) is looking at adaptation decision support tools, in line with its objectives to advance the analysis of impacts, vulnerability and adaptation, and to promote knowledge sharing through the MEDIATION Adaptation Platform (

To complement the information on the Platform, a series of Technical Policy Briefing Notes have been produced on Decision Support Methods for Climate Change Adaptation. This note, Policy Briefing Note 1: Method Overview, provides a summary of the decision support tools, their potential relevance for adaptation and guidance on their potential applicability. It covers a range of traditional decision support tools (cost-benefit analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis and multi-criteria analysis) as well alternative approaches that more fully capture uncertainty (real options analysis, robust decision making, portfolio analysis and iterative risk (adaptive) management, adaptation turning points and analytic hierarchy process). It also includes complementary tools that can assist in adaptation assessment including social network analysis.

Additional information on each of the methods, including case study examples, is included in a series of separate Policy Briefing Notes (2 – 9).

Download the Briefing Note (PDF: 1MB)

SEI author

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Paul Watkiss

SEI Affiliated Researcher

SEI Oxford

Topics and subtopics
Climate : Adaptation
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SEI Oxford

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