Mainstreaming adaptation in fisheries policy

Alongside the appraisal of targeted adaptation options (as part of adaptation policies or projects), there is a focus on mainstreaming climate change adaptation into fisheries policy itself. Mainstreaming is the integration of climate change adaptation into current policy and development, rather than implementing measures in stand-alone projects or programmes (OECD, 2015a). This requires a broader analysis of policy objectives and wider costs and benefits, and it means that adaptation becomes a cross-cutting activity in existing fisheries policy.

Mainstreaming has important advantages as it can leverage resources and activities associated with existing fisheries (or development) budgets. Therefore, it can shift entire national and sector development plans along more climate-smart pathways. However, it does raise additional challenges given the difficulty in delivering cross­cutting and cross-sectoral policy and programmes.

There is some evidence on mainstreaming adaptation from the literature, i.e. the integration of climate change. This provides some important lessons on the success factors involved in mainstreaming (Cimato and Watkiss, 2017).

Effective mainstreaming requires the identification of suitable entry points in the policy and development planning process, noting that these will differ across sectors and national contexts. This is likely to be centred on sector development planning (medium-term plans) for fisheries, but will also cascade down to local development plans. However, the importance of the latter depends on the level of decentralization, as well as the geographical scale of the fisheries involved.

As there is a large adaptation financing gap (see UNEP, 2014, 2018), the presence of climate finance is also a key factor for developing countries. While climate finance flows for adaptation are increasing (CPI, 2017), the flows to the fisheries sector are low (relative to other sectors, notably agriculture and water).

Successful mainstreaming usually involves that the presence of a high-level champion (to push mainstreaming across government), the involvement of strong ministries (i.e. finance and economic planning, rather than environment). A further critical finding is that there is a strong need for technical assistance and capacity building to enable mainstreaming to occur. There is a need for pragmatism when developing mainstreaming, and success will often be contingent on the timing of action and the ability to take advantage of intervention opportunities, for example, the preparation of a new fisheries policy or sector plan.

Other mainstreaming studies (WRI, 2018) identify similar issues, but also identify success factors around policy frameworks (and commitments) that help push forward the process of mainstreaming, the presence of coordination mechanisms across government that support mainstreaming goals, and information and tools

This highlights the fact that for countries that adopt a strong mainstreaming modality, there will be a need to ensure these success factors are in place in order to enable effective adaptation integration to occur.