Month: June 2020

Assessing the feasibility of adaptation options: methodological advancements and directions for climate adaptation research and practice

Singh, C., Ford, J.D., Ley, D., Bazaz, A. and Revi, A. 2020. Assessing the feasibility of adaptation options: methodological advancements and directions for climate adaptation research and practice. Climatic Change, article online.

The Paris Agreement put adaptation prominently on the global climate action agenda. Despite a surge in research and praxis-based knowledge on adaptation, a critical policy roadblock is synthesizing and assessing this burgeoning evidence. We develop an approach to assess the multidimensional feasibility of adaptation options in a robust and transparent manner, providing direction for global climate policy and identifying knowledge gaps to further future climate research. The approach, which was tested in the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 °C (SR1.5) to assess 23 adaptation options, is underpinned by a systematic review of recent literature, expert elicitation, and iterative peer review. It responds to the challenge of limited agreement on adaptation indicators, lack of fine-scale adaptation data, and challenges of assessing synergies and trade-offs with mitigation. The findings offer methodological insights into how future assessments such as the IPCC Assessment Report (AR) six and regional, national, and sectoral assessment exercises could assess adaptation feasibility and synthesize the growing body of knowledge on climate change adaptation.

The Resilience of Indigenous Peoples to Environmental Change

Ford, J.D., King, N., Galappaththi, E.K., Pearce, T., McDowell, G., and Harper, S.L. 2020. The Resilience of Indigenous Peoples to Environmental Change. One Earth, 2(6), pp. 532-543.


Indigenous peoples globally have high exposure to environmental change and are often considered an “at-risk” population, although there is growing evidence of their resilience. In this Perspective, we examine the common factors affecting this resilience by illustrating how the interconnected roles of place, agency, institutions, collective action, Indigenous knowledge, and learning help Indigenous peoples to cope and adapt to environmental change. Relationships with place are particularly important in that they provide a foundation for belief systems, identity, knowledge, and livelihood practices that underlie mechanisms through which environmental change is experienced, understood, resisted, and responded to. Many Indigenous peoples also face significant vulnerabilities, whereby place dislocation due to land dispossession, resettlement, and landscape fragmentation has challenged the persistence of Indigenous knowledge systems and undermined Indigenous institutions, compounded by the speed of environmental change. These vulnerabilities are closely linked to colonization, globalization, and development patterns, underlying the importance of tackling these pervasive structural challenges.

Progress in climate change adaptation in the Arctic

Canosa, I.V., Ford, J.D., McDowell, G., Jones, J. and Pearce, T. 2020. Progress in climate change adaptation in the Arctic. Environmental Research Letters, article online.

Climate adaptation is a priority for Arctic regions which are witnessing some of the most rapid warming globally. Studies have documented examples of adaptation responses in the Arctic, but assessments evaluating if and how progress is being made over time remain scarce. We identify and examine adaptation progress in the Arctic using a systematic tracking methodology to compare adaptations documented during 2014-19 to those documented for the period 2004-2013 in a benchmark study by Ford et al (2014). Utilising the peer reviewed literature as out data source, we find no noticeable increase in reported adaptations across the two time periods, with the profile of adaptations undertaken remaining largely the same. The majority of documented adaptations continue to be reported in North America, are being undertaken most often in the subsistence-based hunting and fishing sector, are primarily developed in response to a combination of climatic and non-climatic stimuli, are reactive and behavioural in nature, and are mainly carried out at the individual/community scale. Climate change is observed, however, to have a more prominent role in motivating adaptation between 2014-19, consistent with intensifying climate-related exposures in the Arctic. There is limited evidence in the reported adaptations analysed that potential opportunities and benefits from the impacts of climate change are being targeted. The paper provides a general characterisation of adaptation across the Arctic and how it is evolving, and needs to be complimented in follow-up work by studies using alternative data sources on adaptation and research at national to regional scales.