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A new guide from the CASC network and partners provides a practical roadmap for individuals and institutions to develop creative and innovative climate adaptation solutions.

Traditional conservation practices alone, while valuable, are insufficient to address the unprecedented and rapidly changing threats to biodiversity, ecosystems, and humans posed by climate change. Innovative approaches that go beyond traditional conservation practices are essential for closing the “adaptation gap,” or the disparity between the extent of adaptation efforts and the extent of climate impacts.  

But what does “innovation” look like?  

A new guide from The National Wildlife Federation, in partnership with the CASC network and the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission Climate Change Specialist Group, explores what “innovation” can mean for conservation, and demonstrates practical ways to achieve innovation in climate adaptation.  

Innovation, defined by novelty, value, and process, emerges not just from shiny new original ideas, but from reimagining ideas used in other sectors (e.g., from business or technology) and from revitalizing traditional, historical, or ancestral ideas and practices.  

Conceptually, the guide explores a framework called “the innovation lifecycle” which outlines stages of the innovation process including the “valley of death” stage when promising innovation is typically abandoned in favor of convention. Practically, the guide applies “the innovation lifecycle” to adaptation planning by exploring barriers to innovation, how to create conditions that enable creativity within individuals and institutions, and how to assess and manage inherent risks. 

The report presents many case studies and examples throughout to serve as encouragement for researchers, educators, policymakers, funders, and conservation practitioners that are using this roadmap to rapidly develop and apply innovative approaches.   

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