Managing private and public adaptation to climate change

Emma L. Tompkins, Hallie Eakin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    183 Scopus citations


    Adaptation to climate change is already being delivered by public and private actors, yet there has been little analysis of the relationships between the providers and beneficiaries of adaptation. This paper reviews the type of actors that are supplying adaptation services and their motivations. We then focus on a specific, under-explored case of adaptation: that of privately provided adaptation public goods and services, the realization of which is contingent on the individual management of private goods and private risks. Following the work of Olson (1965) we find that the benefits of the privately provided adaptation public good do not necessarily accrue back to the (same) individuals who are the providers. The characteristics of this particular form of public good pose specific institutional challenges. In this paper we: 1) explore the characteristics and defining features of these privately provided adaptation public goods; 2) argue that this form of adaptation provisioning is increasingly recognised as a feature in climate change adaptation (and/or social transformation) problems; 3) review existing cases of effective/ineffective management of these public goods; and 4) outline the institutions that may be required to facilitate the management of these public goods for adaptation.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)3-11
    Number of pages9
    JournalGlobal Environmental Change
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Feb 2012


    • Adaptation
    • Climate change
    • Compensation
    • Externalities
    • Motivation
    • Olson
    • Private sector
    • Property rights
    • Public goods
    • Regulation
    • Resilience
    • Social contracts
    • Supply

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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