English Summary

KlimaNetz: Project CAPITAL-ADAPT

The Role of Human and Social Capital in Coping with and Adapting to Climate Change

The primary objective of the project is to develop scientifically based indicators to measure the capacities to cope with and to adapt to climate change in Austria. The focus is on the human and social factors in form of human and social capital that influences these capacities.

CAPITAL-ADAPT aims at developing scientifically based indicators to measure adaptive as well as coping capacities to climate change in Austria. The indicators will encompass human and social capital, which has an impact on these capacities.

The indicators will be applied in two case studies, one in an (semi-)urban area (Klosterneuburg) and one in a rural area (Virgen in Osttirol), to discuss coping capacity and adaptive capacity with stakeholders and to define strategies to improve these capacities in those particular places.

They will also be used to identify “vulnerability hotspots” in the case study areas, which can show where measures to increase coping and adaptive capacities are most urgently needed and to demonstrate the importance of human and social capital (in contrast to physical capital or infrastructure) in dealing with climate change.

There are two significant innovations in this project. The focus on human and social capital is innovative and the goal is to demonstrate the importance of such measures as education, public awareness, early warning, voluntary organizations and institutional change in responding to climate change. The second innovation is the clear distinction between coping capacity and adaptive capacity. We believe that there will be clear advantages for policy development and implementation, if there is a distinction between the immediate capacity to deal with climate change (coping capacity) and the longer-term capacity to adapt (by increasing coping capacity to deal with future climate change).

Adaptation to climate change is a key challenge at the provincial, regional and local levels due to the fact that climate change impacts materialize here in manifold ways. Therefore an effective regional and local adaptation policy has to deal with the coping and adaptive capacity as well as with social structures in addition to technical, natural scientific and political approaches.

Concretely, CAPITAL-ADAPT aims at enhancing the Austrian National Adaptation Strategy by proposing how social and human capital information can be used to evaluate the coping and adaptive capacity of a region and how these forms of capitals can support the choice and implementation of adaptation strategies.