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Ongoing climate trends have exacerbated many extreme events. These have combined with exposure and vulnerabilities to cause major impacts for many natural and human systems, with some natural systems experiencing or at risk of irreversible change in Australasia. Climate impacts are cascading and compounding across sectors and socio-economic and natural systems. Increasing climate risks are projected to increase for a wide range of systems, sectors and communities, while exacerbating existing vulnerabilities and social inequalities and inequities.
While the ambition, scope and progress of the adaptation process has increased across governments, non-government organisations, businesses and communities, progress is uneven due to gaps, barriers and limits to adaptation, and adaptive capacity deficits. There are important interactions between mitigation and adaptation policies and their implementation and a range of incremental and transformative adaptation options and pathways is available as long as enablers are in place to implement them. New knowledge on system complexity, managing uncertainty and how to shift from reactive to adaptive implementation is critical for accelerating adaptation. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Tangata Whenua Māori can enhance effective adaptation through the passing down of knowledge about climate change planning that promotes collective action and mutual support across the region.
Further climate change is inevitable, with the rate and magnitude largely dependent on emissions. A step change in adaptation is needed to match the rising risks and to support climate resilient development. Delay in implementing adaptation and emission reductions will impede climate resilient development, resulting in more costly climate impacts and greater scale of adjustments.