Climate change adaptation in natural world heritage sites: A triage approach

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6 Scopus citations


Climate change is a certainty, but the degree and rate of change, as well as impacts of those changes are highly site-specific. Natural World Heritage sites represent a treasure to be managed and sustained for all humankind. EachWorld Heritage site is so designated on the basis of one or more Outstanding Universal Values. Because climate change impacts are site-specific, adaptation to sustain Universal Values also must be specific. As such, climate change adaptation is a wicked problem, with no clear action strategies available. Further, adaptation resources are limited at every site. Each site management team must decide which adaptations are appropriate investments. A triage approach guides that evaluation. Some impacts will be so large and/or uncertain that the highest probability of adaptation success comes from a series of uncertain actions that reduce investment risk. Others will be small, certain, comfortable and yet have low probable impact on the Universal Value. A triage approach guides the management team toward highest probable return on investment, involving stakeholders from the surrounding landscape, advancing engagement and communication, and increasing transparency and accountability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by the University of Minnesota.

Funding Information:
I am grateful to Chiara Bertolin and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. This research was funded by the University of Minnesota

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors.


  • Protected areas
  • Risk-based decisions
  • Scenario planning
  • Triage


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