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General components of planning

Why a general approach to adaptation planning?

We developed this approach with recognition that there is a great deal of variation among Australian NRM groups; as such, it supports the integration of climate change adaptation into planning regardless of the current style or stage of planning.

By focusing on five general components of planning, this guide will be relevant regardless of the specific planning approach.

The five components of adaptation planning

General components of weed management planning through an adaptation lens.


The components reflect an iterative planning process that is also appropriate for planning for climate change. This is because the most effective responses to climate change risks may not be known and outcomes may only be achieved after trying a range of options, assessing the responses, and adjusting those responses.

It is designed to support self-assessment; NRM users can consider how well their current processes meet many of the challenges that will arise due to climate change, what adaptation might be required, and how some processes might need to be adjusted to incorporate adaptation into planning.

The table below summarises how each stage of planning might be different under an adaptation lens. For a more detailed look into the components of planning, including examples of how they have been applied in natural resource management, download The NRM Adaptation Checklist.

Assessment Strategic Planning Implementation Planning and Action Monitoring Reflection
Why might assessment need to be different?
  • to assess potential futures, not just current state
  • to empower the community early in the planning process & build their capacity
  • to effectively manage increasing quantities of information
Why might strategic planning need to be different?
  • to plan for multiple possible futures
  • to incorporate longer-term decision-making with short-term flexibility
  • to facilitate solutions at a greater range of scales, especially larger cross-border scales
  • to foster adaptive capacity through innovation and creativity
Why might implementation planning and action need to be different?
  • to plan actions that are appropriate for multiple futures
  • to consider different sequences of actions over time
  • to explore the consequences of actions across domains to avoid perverse outcomes
  • to build adaptive capacity through innovation, action and experimentation
Why might monitoring need to be different?
  • to monitor which climate futures are eventuating
  • to monitor trigger points for future decisions
  • to more critically target monitoring of actions
  • to build adaptive capacity through partnerships and helping people observe changes and success stories
Why might reflection need to be different?
  • to reflect on success in terms of avoiding undesirable futures (rather than progress toward a single, desirable future)
  • to decide whether it is time to address decisions that were previously delayed
  • to reflect on adaptive capacity and ownership of the plan by your community