Understanding climate change and resilience: assessing strengths and opportunities for adaptation in the Global South

Marta Berbés-Blázquez, Carrie L. Mitchell, Sarah L. Burch, Johanna Wandel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Better integration of resilience and climate change adaptation can help building climate-resilient development. Yet, resilience and adaptation to climate change have evolved largely along parallel paths with little cross-fertilization. Conceptual vagueness around resilience makes it challenging to ascertain what elements of resilience thinking have the greatest potential to enhance climate change adaptation and contribute to broader sustainable development goals. This article distills nine principles from the resilience literature to build a framework to assess 224 climate change adaptation strategies proposed by researchers and practitioners in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Our analysis concludes that adaptation strategies in this data set emphasize initiatives that increase social and ecological diversity, strengthen learning processes, build functional redundancy, enhance connectivity between social and ecological elements, pay attention to the management of slow variables, and provide mechanisms for increasing participation and polycentric governance. At the same time, the adaptation options examined generally lacked a system’s perspective, suggesting that there is still important work ahead to move toward a climate-resilient development model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-241
Number of pages15
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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