Planning for resilience in a rapidly changing world - The Resilience Adaptation and Transformation Assessment Framework (RAPTA)

Planning for Resilience in the GEF Program

The concepts of resilience,adaptation and transformationare gaining prominence and being translated into aspirational goals that guide policy development. Understanding resilience, adaptation and transformation is critical to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly those related to climate change adaptation, food security, and safeguarding ecosystem functions. It is also an essential operational concept for success in delivering the GEF Program. Devising interventions to embed resilience goals into project planning requires methods to evaluate resilience, and identify needs with respect to adaptation and transformation.

The Resilience, Adaptation Pathways and Transformation Assessment Framework (RAPTA) provides a tool to align approaches and monitoring towards common objectives, contribute to integrated strategies, and pursue synergies in reporting between the Rio Conventions[1. Use of RAPTA will assist development initiatives to generate sustained positive impacts.

RAPTA was developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in partnership with STAP.

The RAPTA guidelines give practical guidance on the application of RAPTA in project design.  The guidelines are targeted at practitioners working with local stakeholders to devise effective development projects that build resilience to shocks, stresses, and major external change.

The guidelines are particularly relevant for agricultural systems, but RAPTA’s concepts and approach are applicable across the sustainable development agenda.

The guidelines are described in the document:

O’Connell, D., Abel, N., Grigg, N., Maru, Y., Butler, J., Cowie, A., Stone-Jovicich, S., Walker, B.,Wise, R., Ruhweza, A., Pearson, L., Ryan, P., Stafford Smith, M. (2016).  “Designing projects in a rapidly changing world: Guidelines for embedding resilience, adaptation and transformation into sustainable development projects. (Version 1.0)”

Low-resolution version of the RAPTA guidelines

High-resolution version of the RAPTA guidelines

The background concepts and theoretical underpinning of RAPTA are described in the technical report:

O’Connell, D., Walker, B., Abel, N., Grigg, N. (2015) The Resilience, Adaptation and Transformation Assessment Framework: From Theory to Application. CSIRO, Australia.

The case studies report presents a desk-top application of RAPTA in two agro-ecosystems: irrigated rice in Thailand and a semi-arid agro-pastoral system in Niger:

Grigg, N., Abel, N., O’Connell, D. & Walker, B. (2015) Resilience assessment case studies in Thailand and Niger: Case studies to accompany a discussion paper for UNCCD STAP workshop 19-21 November 2014, Sydney, Australia.

The summary and brief on RAPTA are available below.

O’Connell, D., Walker, B., Abel, N., Grigg, N., Cowie, A., Duron, G. An Introduction to the Resilience, Adaptation Pathways and Transformation Assessment (RAPTA) (2015)

Brief on Resilience Adaptation Transformation Assessment Learning Framework (2015)

[1] The Rio conventions: the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, UNCCD; the Convention on Biological Diversity, CBD, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC

Press Release:  RAPTA Guidelines

Washington, DC, 10 May 2016 – The planet is facing unprecedented changes as a result of human pressure on the environment. Human influence is recognized as the dominant cause of observed warming of the planet since the mid-20th century. Modern society has not previously faced the current rate, magnitude and novelty of the changes that are now before us – and there are no readily designed, and available, solutions for these challenges.  A structured approach is needed on how to learn from the interventions that we make, to enable constant improvement and adaptation of our management interventions, while understanding how the systems we are managing are themselves rapidly changing.  These ideas are embodied in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in its 2030 Agenda, and the Paris Agreement signed by 175 countries as the blueprint for a more sustainable future for ourselves and the planet.

The new advisory document, “Designing Projects in a Rapidly Changing World: Guidelines for embedding resilience, adaptation and transformation into sustainable development projects”, by the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility (STAP/GEF) provides guidance to project  developers and practitioners for designing projects that build the ideas of resilience, adaptation and transformation into projects from the start. STAP aims to assist the GEF in planning for resilience through these guidelines that are grounded on stakeholder participation and a systems view. The guidelines underscore the need for defining the drivers of environmental degradation, thresholds on key controlling variables, cross-scale interactions and feedback effects, while identifying opportunities for adaptive management for planning and implementing interventions. Understanding how to use resilience, adaptation, or transformation to manage a system will help people make intentional choices and manage changes with a stronger chance of meeting sustainability goals.

The guidelines, prepared by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Organisation (CSIRO) and STAP, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), were developed to meet the challenges of agricultural production systems, and the program needs of the GEF’s Integrated Approach Pilot “Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa”. The guidelines and the RAPTA framework are also applicable, however, to managing climate change, addressing threats to biodiversity and forest conservation, and responding to risks affecting social-ecological systems amidst the growing human needs and demands placed on the finite resources of the planet.

The report will be presented to the 50th GEF Council Meeting that will take place in Washington D.C, from 6 to 9 June 2016.