Climate change introduces new complexities and uncertainties into decision-making and planning. It also compounds pressing challenges posed by demographic, socio-economic and other environmental change taking place, such as meeting the rapidly growing demand for food, water and energy and addressing biodiversity loss.

However, current interventions that are designed to respond to development and environment challenges are fragmented across many sectors and institutions both public and private. The interventions themselves tend to be narrowly defined and assessed. And they’re dominated by short-term priorities with very little focus placed on integrated approaches that would create space for learning and flexibility in decision-making and implementation processes. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to tackle large-scale systemic challenges such as poverty, biodiversity loss and climate change effectively.

There is thus a critical need to develop processes that enable decision-makers at all levels (community, national and global) and actors (public, private and third sector) to plan and act together and within complex interconnected systems if we’re to develop a sustainable, climate-resilient future that supports social and ecological prosperity.

This paper is based on work undertaken by SEI and WWF-UK in 2010-2011 that explored the opportunities for and barriers to taking integrated approaches to decision-making in the context of climate change. The authors reflect on and share our learning which may have wider application and impact beyond the three countries studied, and offer lessons and reflections of potential value to those planning and implementing climate change adaptation strategies, as well as those seeking to ensure better integration of policy and practice across sectors, levels and agencies in a changing world.

The lessons cover ways to strengthen governance and support effective decision-making to address the challenges of climate change, development and environment; lessons specific to Belize, Nepal and Tanzania; and lessons about how to facilite a participatory process of collective learning to support more integrated approaches.

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