Reconceptualising adaptation to climate change as part of pathways of change and response

R. M. Wise, I. Fazey, M. Stafford Smith, S. E. Park, Hallie Eakin, E. R M Archer Van Garderen, B. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

333 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The need to adapt to climate change is now widely recognised as evidence of its impacts on social and natural systems grows and greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated. Yet efforts to adapt to climate change, as reported in the literature over the last decade and in selected case studies, have not led to substantial rates of implementation of adaptation actions despite substantial investments in adaptation science. Moreover, implemented actions have been mostly incremental and focused on proximate causes; there are far fewer reports of more systemic or transformative actions. We found that the nature and effectiveness of responses was strongly influenced by framing. Recent decision-oriented approaches that aim to overcome this situation are framed within a "pathways" metaphor to emphasise the need for robust decision making within adaptive processes in the face of uncertainty and inter-temporal complexity. However, to date, such "adaptation pathways" approaches have mostly focused on contexts with clearly identified decision-makers and unambiguous goals; as a result, they generally assume prevailing governance regimes are conducive for adaptation and hence constrain responses to proximate causes of vulnerability. In this paper, we explore a broader conceptualisation of "adaptation pathways" that draws on 'pathways thinking' in the sustainable development domain to consider the implications of path dependency, interactions between adaptation plans, vested interests and global change, and situations where values, interests, or institutions constrain societal responses to change. This re-conceptualisation of adaptation pathways aims to inform decision makers about integrating incremental actions on proximate causes with the transformative aspects of societal change. Case studies illustrate what this might entail. The paper ends with a call for further exploration of theory, methods and procedures to operationalise this broader conceptualisation of adaptation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-336
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Fingerprint

climate change
cause
decision maker
global change
metaphor
sustainable development
vulnerability
greenhouse gas
decision making
uncertainty
governance
interaction
science
evidence
decision
Values

Keywords

  • Climate change adaptation
  • Framing
  • Pathways
  • Transformation
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Global and Planetary Change

Cite this

Wise, R. M., Fazey, I., Stafford Smith, M., Park, S. E., Eakin, H., Archer Van Garderen, E. R. M., & Campbell, B. (2014). Reconceptualising adaptation to climate change as part of pathways of change and response. Global Environmental Change, 28(1), 325-336. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.12.002

Reconceptualising adaptation to climate change as part of pathways of change and response. / Wise, R. M.; Fazey, I.; Stafford Smith, M.; Park, S. E.; Eakin, Hallie; Archer Van Garderen, E. R M; Campbell, B.

In: Global Environmental Change, Vol. 28, No. 1, 2014, p. 325-336.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Wise, RM, Fazey, I, Stafford Smith, M, Park, SE, Eakin, H, Archer Van Garderen, ERM & Campbell, B 2014, 'Reconceptualising adaptation to climate change as part of pathways of change and response', Global Environmental Change, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 325-336. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.12.002
Wise, R. M. ; Fazey, I. ; Stafford Smith, M. ; Park, S. E. ; Eakin, Hallie ; Archer Van Garderen, E. R M ; Campbell, B. / Reconceptualising adaptation to climate change as part of pathways of change and response. In: Global Environmental Change. 2014 ; Vol. 28, No. 1. pp. 325-336.
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