Farming communities’ adaptation to climate change in developing countries



Year Published: 2012


Adaptation in the world food systems is a critical challenge of this century.  Much interest is currently focused on building adaptation capacities in these regions.  Nevertheless, there has been little research as to the likelihood for success of these interventions. Using the framework of the “Vulnerability Cube” which defines three dimensions of adaptive capacity for farming systems (agro-ecosystems, livelihoods and institutions), we review the literature on climate change science in four world regions (Africa, Asia, Latin America and small island developing States). Our review finds that in much of the developing world, interventions designed to enhance the adaptation of food systems have focused on only one dimension of adaptive capacity, resulting in exacerbated long-term vulnerability.  Furthermore, we find that enhancing all three elements of adaptive capacity for farm systems is limited by degraded ecosystems, less livelihood assets, and weak institutions in the regions we analyzed. On the other hand, considering the extensive uncertainties in future forcings of and responses to climate change, the climate change science needs to create and use scenarios of the future based on “parallel” approach (vs. sequential). This requires collaboration among all researchers with different fields of study in a simultaneous form which is beyond the technical capacity and resources in developing countries where there are limited data on dimensions of the “Vulnerability Cube”.  These findings are significant because they indicate that what particularly distinguishes developing countries from developed ones with regard to adaptation to climate change is adaptive capacity as well as research and assessment capacity vis-a-vis climate change science. To enhance adaptive capacity in the long term, we argue that the interventions should target the three dimensions of adaptive capacity simultaneously and the research and assessment capacity should also be enhanced.

Type of Publication: Paper/Poster Presentations

Publisher: Planet Under Pressure conference

Location: London