Towards a characterisation of adaptive capacity: a framework for analysing adaptive capacity at the local level

Working and discussion papers
December 2010

Interest is growing in supporting vulnerable people and communities to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate, and there is a general assumption that there are close links between development and adaptation. Yet our understanding of the impacts that development interventions have on adaptive capacity at the local level remains limited. Most development interventions are not designed with a climate change ‘adaptation’ label, but it is likely that they influence communities’ capacity to adapt to changing shocks and trends – whether as a result of climate change or other pressures associated with development (see Jones et al., 2010).

A framework for understanding and assessing adaptive capacity at the local level is needed to begin to understand how it can be supported through wider development processes at both local and national levels. Such a framework may in time serve as a platform to monitor progress, identify needs and allocate development resources to enhance a system’s ability to adapt to change.

This Background Note puts forward a ‘Local Adaptive Capacity framework’ developed as part of the Africa Climate Change Resilience Alliance (ACCRA) programme, drawing on extensive consultations with academics, policy-makers and practitioners. It is an attempt to incorporate intangible and dynamic dimensions of adaptive capacity, as well as capitals and resource-based components, into an analysis of adaptive capacity at the local level.

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