New Assessment Shows Impact of CPO-Supported Planning Tool on Climate Adaptation Processes

  • 29 September 2020
New Assessment Shows Impact of CPO-Supported Planning Tool on Climate Adaptation Processes

A recently published assessment highlights the impact of 14 applications of the Vulnerability, Consequences, and Adaptation Planning Scenarios (VCAPS) tool. Originally developed through a 2009 CPO/Coastal and Ocean Climate Applications (COCA) Program project, VCAPS is designed to assist communities in becoming more resilient to climate change and weather events through local vulnerability assessments and climate adaptation planning. The assessment found that VCAPS informed plans and decisions of municipalities, informed actions and decisions of other public and private actors, generated broader support for subsequent actions, helped efforts to secure/seek funding for climate adaptation actions, developed material resources to support planning, and promoted learning among participants.

The Social and Environmental Research Institute along with the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments Programs (one of 11 NOAA RISA teams) first implemented VCAPS in two South Carolina coastal communities. Since 2011, VCAPS has been applied to other communities in states such as Alabama, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and South Carolina through collaborations with key partners such as state Sea Grant programs. 

The VCAPS process includes several different components. It guides community members to engage in informative discussions surrounding climate threats, summarize and discuss existing local knowledge, identify gaps in knowledge, and think strategically on how to take climate-resilient measures.

Using qualitative interviews, the study explored the perceived value and the measurable performance outcomes of VCAPS at both individual and community scales occurring 3–10 years after the processes were conducted. The report found that VCAPS performed better when there is wide community participation. Many participants in the VCAPS framework viewed adaptation planning as an on-going process. Lastly, it was noted that linking scientific knowledge with local knowledge is a critical part of the VCAPS process.   

View the assessment »




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Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather.