The need for pest and pathogen management will increase as the intensification of food production proceeds to feed the burgeoning human population. Climate is a significant driver of pest population dynamics, so climate change will require adaptive management strategies to cope with the altered status of pests and pathogens. A hierarchy of analytical tools is required to conduct risk assessments, inform policy and design pest management on scales from regions to landscapes and fields. Such tools include models for predicting potential geographical distributions, seasonal phenology, and population dynamics at a range of spatial and temporal scales. The level of sophistication of such models and databases will be determined by the economic importance of specific species. Many obstacles remain in the way of designing reliable adaptation strategies, and several issues that ensure continuing uncertainty are discussed. Holistic approaches that include nonclimatic drivers of change are needed to address the combination of global change variables. Changed patterns of crop production will determine the pests and pathogens that require greater effort to control. Linked crop-pest models offer the best opportunities for management of important pests and pathogens. Examples of risk assessments for pests and pathogens are illustrated mostly with cases from Australia, and guidelines for adaptation of pest and pathogen management are reviewed. The plethora of species and strains of pests and pathogens demands a parsimonious approach to risk assessment and adaptation, based on identified needs to inform management. Due to some intractable issues the best approach may often be scenario planning to design systems which will be resilient under any global change. WIREs Clim Change 2011 2 220–237 DOI: 10.1002/wcc.102

For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website