When not every response to climate change is a good one: identifying principles for sustainable adaptation

SOURCE: Climate and Development
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2011
TITLE AUTHOR(S): S.Eriksen, P.Aldunce, C.S.Bahinipati, R.D.Martins, J.I.Molefe, C.Nhemachena, K.O'Brien, F.Olorunfemi, J.Park, L.Sygna, K.Ulsrud
KEYWORDS: CLIMATE CHANGE, ENVIRONMENT, ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, TRANSFORMATION
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 7219
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/3459

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Abstract

Climate adaptation has become a pressing issue. Yet little attention has been paid to the consequences of adaptation policies and practices for sustainability. Recognition that not every adaptation to climate change is a good one has drawn attention to the need for sustainable adaptation strategies and measures that contribute to social justice and environmental integrity. This article presents four normative principles to guide responses to climate change and illustrates the significance of the 'sustainable adaptation' concept through case studies from diverse contexts. The principles are: first, recognize the context for vulnerability, including multiple stressors; second, acknowledge that differing values and interests affect adaptation outcomes; third, integrate local knowledge into adaptation responses; and fourth, consider potential feedbacks between local and global processes. We argue that fundamental societal transformations are required in order to achieve sustainable development pathways and avoid adaptation funding going into efforts that exacerbate vulnerability and contribute to rising emissions. Despite numerous challenges involved in achieving such change, we suggest that sustainable adaptation practices have the potential to address some of the shortcomings of conventional social and economic development pathways