The planning and phasing of adaptation responses are essential to tackle uncertainties and ensure positive outcomes while adapting to changing circumstances. Understanding the evolution of coping and adaptation responses and their capacities is a prerequisite for preparing an effective flood management plan for the future. The aim of this paper is to determine the effect of coping capacity on longer term adaptation responses in a flood risk management system. The objectives, requirements, targets, design, and performance of flood protection measures will have to be determined after taking into account, or in conjunction with, the coping capacities. A methodology has been developed and demonstrated based on an adaptation pathway approach to account for coping capacities and to assess the effect of these on flood protection measures. Application of this methodology for flood protection measures in Can Tho City in the Mekong Delta shows the effect of considering coping capacity for flood protection measures and the value in delaying the occurrence of tipping points. Coping measures such as elevating property floor levels can postpone the tipping points when dikes are no longer effective. Consideration of coping capacity in the system improves adaptation responses and leads to better adaptation outcomes.

This article is part of a Special Issue on “Climatic Change and Development in the Mekong River Basin” edited by Jaap Evers and Assela Pathirana.

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Last updated: 15th Jan 2018