Adaptation to Climate Change: From Resilience to Transformation

Free Adaptation to Climate Change: From Resilience to Transformation by Mark Pelling

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Authors: Mark Pelling
Tags: Development Studies
The ability of a unit to respond to an occurrence of harm and to avoid its potential impacts
The ability of a unit to gradually transform its structure, functioning or organisation to survive under hazards threatening its existence
Kelly and Adger (2000)
The means to survive within the prevailing systems of rules
Change to the institutions (cultural norms, laws, routine behaviour) embodied in livelihoods
Gore (1992)
The range of actions available to respond to the perceived climate change risks in any given policy context
Change to the set of available inputs that determine coping capacity
Yohe and Tol (2002)
The process through which established practices and underlying institutions are marshalled when confronted by the impacts of climate change
The process through which an actor is able to reflect upon and enact change in those practices and underlying institutions that generate root and proximate causes of risk, frame capacity to cope and further rounds of adaptation to climate change
Pelling (2010)
    greatly influenced by the viewpoint of the observer. This blurs the practical utility of the empirical boundaries between coping and adaptation, producing a potential lack of analytical and policy clarity (for example, Saldaña-Zorrilla, 2008).
    Yohe and Tol (2002) offer a nuance on the distinction between coping and adaptation described above. They see adaptive capacity as describing the set of available inputs that determine coping capacity which itself is manifest in the range of actions available to responding to perceived climate change risks in any given policy context. Adaptive capacity is determined by underlying social factors: resources, institutions, social capital, human capital, risk spreading, information management and awareness. Their availability is context specific and path dependent. Coping capacity is defined by the range of practical measures that can be taken to reduce risk. The range, feasibility and efficiency of these measures is determined by adaptive capacity. This logic reveals some insightful outcomes in the relationships between inputs and actions (adaptation and coping). Enhanced investment in the ‘weakest link’ component of adaptive capacity has theadvantage of raising coping capacity across the board – or at least until the next weakest link emerges to limit coping. By the same token investing in one component in isolation need not increase coping capacity. Adding to the resource base may, for example, have no effect on coping capacity if institutional processes or decision-making structures block implementation.
    The distinction being made by these authors reflects other attempts to disentangle distinct relationships between actors and their environment. This helps provide some depth to the more narrowly focused challenge of coping/adaptation in climate change. The interest of Freire (1969) was to make transparent the potential role of education in society – much like the climate change problem, his concern was to see development as a process that contained what the poor knew and what they imagined they could do with knowledge. The distinction between ‘adapted man’ (that is, someone who has learnt to live with the current system) and ‘critical consciousness’ has parallels with coping and adaptation. Adapted man corresponds with coping – where successive rounds of coping, that is, of accommodating one’s life to live with hazard, describe well the ratchet effect undermining assets and human wellbeing. Critical consciousness – the ability to see one’s position in society as a function of social structures as a prerequisite to seeking ways of making change in those structures – has great parallels with the institutional dimensions of adaptation described above. The difference is that climate change has to date been driven predominantly by a concern for maintaining efficiency in the output of economic systems and livelihoods rather than

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