Key Findings: The Nature and Utility of Adaptive Capacity Research

Authors: Timothy F Smith, RW Carter, Philip Daffara and Noni Keys
Year: 2010

This factsheet summarises the key findings of a project undertaken to investigate the concept of adaptive capacity its various interpretations, modes of application in research and assessment, and its utility to researchers and decision makers. The over-riding message emerging from this research was that one-size fits all generic approaches to adaptation planning are unlikely to be effective due to the context-dependent nature of adaptive capacity. Over 65% of decision makers surveyed stated that the concept of adaptive capacity is useful in directing their programs. It is apparent that adaptation planning cannot develop in isolation from considerations of adaptive capacity. As such, there is a need for a deeper understanding of the determinants of adaptive capacity through more innovative approaches and greater collaboration between researchers from different disciplines. This factsheet presents answers to pertinent questions for understanding the concept of adaptive capacity in climate change research, such as: What do we mean by adaptive capacity? How can adaptive capacity be assessed? What methods are used in adaptive capacity research? What determines the adaptive capacity of an individual or community? Is the concept of adaptive capacity useful to decision makers? How could the understanding of adaptive capacity be improved among stakeholders?

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