Technologies to Support Climate Change Adaptation in Developing Asia

Asian Development Bank


The 2013 Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) restates the inevitability of significant and continuing climate change impact in Asia. The report is organized by sector and deals separately with climate change impact, vulnerabilities, and technology needs in the following six sectors:

  • agriculture,
  • coastal resources,
  • human health,
  • transportation,
  • water resources, and
  • disaster risk management (DRM).

It gives examples of hard adaptation technologies that could reduce the vulnerabilities identified. Each technology is evaluated on the basis of effectiveness, or how well the technology reduces vulnerability or increases resilience; and relative costs, based on cost figures obtained in the research, with “more desirable,” “intermediate,” and “less desirable” scores assigned according to a numerical scale.

Key findings:

  • Rising temperatures, with both seasonal and regional variations, will be felt on the continent well into the 21st century, according to the AR5. Since 1900, observed annual mean temperatures have increased by up to 3°C in Asia, particularly in North Asia. Warming is projected to happen fastest in Central, West, and North Asia, and least rapidly in Southeast Asia.
  • More changes in precipitation patterns, including extremes, are expected all over the continent, although the changes may vary in frequency and intensity. The largest increases in precipitation are projected for North and East Asia. On the other hand, a drier Central Asia is foreseen. Annual mean rainfall has decreased in the northeastern and northern regions of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), northeastern India, Indonesia, coastal Pakistan, and the Philippines. But it has increased in Bangladesh, western and southeastern PRC, and western Philippines.
  • In Asia and the rest of the world, extreme weather events have become more frequent and intense. Extreme weather events, including heat waves and intense precipitation, could become more commonplace in South, East, and Southeast Asia. Intense precipitation would raise sea level, putting most Pacific islands at risk.
  • Water scarcity, declining food production, drastic changes in terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and direct threats to human populations and welfare due to extreme climate events, coupled with socioeconomic drivers, will affect human and economic development across Asia. The impact on food production and food security in many regions will be severe. Wheat-growing areas in South Asia could shrink by half as higher concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) cause heat stress. Rising sea levels will pose an increasing threat to rice production in low-lying areas, including the Lower Mekong Basin. Uneven growth in vegetation due to erratic seed dispersal and higher sea surface temperatures will seriously affect terrestrial and marine ecosystems, making it harder for animals to find suitable feeding and breeding habitats.
  • Stress will be placed as a result on the economic, food, and livelihood security of the millions of people living in the coastal regions of Asia. Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam— coastal developing member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)—stand to lose as much as 6.7% of their combined gross domestic product (GDP) yearly by 2100.
  • Planned adaptation in response to or in anticipation of this impact can mitigate or prevent some harmful effects of climate change, and draw benefits from the more positive consequences. But there is a dearth of consistent, comprehensive information about the most recent developments in adaptation technologies and a lack of access to institutions and agencies that can facilitate technical and knowledge transfer. Adaptation practitioners are thus held back from developing a robust portfolio of hard and soft adaptation technologies.
  • Through technical assistance programs, ADB has been developing and disseminating knowledge and building capacity to respond effectively to the challenge. ADB undertook a desk study and assessment of available technologies that decision makers can use in adaptation planning, to promote the spread of knowledge. Forty-one technologies that could help reduce climate change risks in agriculture, coastal resources, human health, transportation, water resources, and disaster risk management in developing countries in Asia were compiled and evaluated during the study.
  • The report on that study centers on hard technologies that can be used to lessen the impact of climate change. It assesses physical infrastructure, the use of information technology, and other physical changes that can help make countries less vulnerable to climate change.
  • While developing Asia is the focus of the report, developed countries and countries outside Asia can also use most of these technologies. Some of the technologies are already mature and ready for application, but are not yet widely used in Asia. Others, including several still in the experimental phase, are new or emerging technologies; developing countries could be among the first to test their efficacy. Because of their varying stages of development, however, the technologies reviewed in the report vary in the quantity and quality of available information. For newer technologies, decision makers should explore new research released since the publication of the report.


Asian Development Bank (2014). Technologies to Support Climate Change Adaptation in Developing Asia. Manila: Asian Development Bank.