Climate Change, Vulnerability and Resilience

Poor people in developing countries are in the front line of climate change. Not only are expected changes in rainfall and temperature in many developing countries greater than in the developed world, but poor people are also more vulnerable to such changes. This is partly because so many depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

In an initiative supported by the Ministry for the Environment with Bonriki Primary School (Kiribati) mangrove seedlings are planted to restore natural coastal ecosystems and to protect the coastline from erosion caused by sea level rise and storm surge. Credit: Jocelyn Carlin / Panos

However, the real roots of vulnerability lie in poverty, placing severe limits on the ability of people to protect themselves against more frequent shocks like droughts and floods, and longer term climate trends.

Our work on this theme seeks to understand how vulnerability and poverty are produced by the wider political economy and politics in particular contexts. Researchers are working across IDS to explore how to strengthen the resilience of poor people to climate-related disasters and trends. Our research considers a range of approaches, including low-carbon development, allocation of climate adaptation funding, social protection, ecosystems approaches and vulnerability analysis.

But we are also examining at what points more profound structural change in economies and politics will be needed if societies are to adapt to climate change successfully, and how that change can be made.

Our research in this area seeks answers to questions such as:

  • How can we enhance the ability of governments, civil society and private sector organisations in developing countries to build the resilience of poor people to disasters and climate change?
  • What are the implications of differences in perceptions of climate change and risks (for example by gender, age, livelihood or location) for strengthening resilience?
  • What adaptation delivery mechanisms may be appropriate in different contexts, and what role can social protection play in adaptation and resilience building?
  • Can adaptation and resilience be mainstreamed into development projects, programmes and policies through the use of climate screening tools?

Climate Change, Uncertainty and Tranformation

This project sees uncertainty as a key barrier to efforts to support social transformation to respond to the challenges posed by climate change. More details

HUMPOL Courting Catastrophe?

Courting Catastrophe is looking at how the humanitarian sector needs to change to meet this challenge, with research in countries in Asia and Africa to develop new ways of acting. More details

The Political Economy of Climate-Compatible Development

This project is based on the contention that understanding and working with the prevailing political economy is crucial to change the understanding and commitment of decision makers, to improve coordination, collaboration and mobilisation amongst key stakeholders, and to strengthen the institutions and institutional capacity to deliver climate compatible development. More details

View all Research Theme's publications

Use this search to display this theme's publications and filter by journal, author, country and much more.