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

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IDS publications on international development research

Urban Informality and Building a More Inclusive, Resilient and Green Economy

Human Settlements Group (2014)

This paper aims to provoke discussions around two main questions: What is the role of the urban informal economy in this transition? And, how can urban informal enterprises and their workers contribute to achieving economies that are not only greener and more resilient, but also more inclusive? More details

PB63 Front Cover

The Potential and Limits of the ‘Resilience Agenda’ in Peri-urban Contexts

IDS Policy Briefing 63 (2014)

Today, it is acknowledged that peri-urban space plays a critical and increasing role role is still poorly understood and peri-urban areas are rarely recognised in the in relation to urban expansion. Yet this different relevant decision-making spheres, leading to the political and economic marginalisation of peri-urban residents, who are often among the poor. More details

Non-IDS publication

National Level Policies Versus Local Level Realities - Can the Two be Reconciled to Promote Sustainable Adaptation?

Using three case studies, this article reviews whether or not national policies are supporting poor and vulnerable groups' ability to adapt to climate change. More details

Resilience: New Utopia or New Tyranny?

IDS Working Paper 405 (2012)

Resilience is becoming influential in development and vulnerability reduction sectors such as social protection, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Policy makers, donors and international development agencies are now increasingly referring to the term. More details

This is the image for an In Focus Policy Briefing.

Making Social Protection ‘Climate-Smart’

IDS In Focus Policy Briefing 27 (2012)

Adaptive Social Protection (ASP) aims to reduce the vulnerability of poor people to a range of shocks and ongoing stresses through the integration of social protection (SP), climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR). More details

Non-IDS publication

Climate Change and Agricultural Policy Processes in Malawi

This paper explores climate change - agriculture debates in Malawi in view of the increasing interest and funding pledges for the agricultural sector in a changing climate. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Participatory Action Research and Children: Lessons from Disaster Management and Climate Change Adaptation

IDS Bulletin 43.3 (2012)

Recent research and practice from the fields of climate change adaptation and disaster management has created a shift from emphasis of children’s vulnerability and need for protection towards their potential as agents of change before, during and after disaster events. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Sharing Climate Adaptation Tools: Improving Decision-Making for development

The workshop was conceived in response to the growing numbers of adaptation tools being developed and piloted by development agencies and others to tackle climate-related risks, now and in the future More details

IDS publications on international development research

Farmers' Knowledge and Climate Change Adaptation: Insights from Policy Processes in Kenya and Namibia

This briefing paper reports on lessons from recent studies in two areas: first on seasonal forecasting and indigenous knowledge in Kenya, and second, agro-ecological knowledge and science in Namibia. More details

front cover of the the publication 'Social Protection and Climate Resilience'

Social Protection and Climate Resilience

Report from an international workshop Addis Ababa, March 14-17, 2011 More details

IDS publications on international development research

Exploring Food Price Scenarios Towards 2030 with a Global Multi-Region Model

This report is a contribution to the Oxfam campaign 'GROW: Food.Life.Planet'. It explores a range of scenarios for food price increases to 2030 through the GLOBE model. More details

IDS Practice Paper

Tackling Poverty in a Changing Climate: Bridging Concepts and Practice for Low Carbon Climate Resilient Development

This is the second Bridging Paper from the Hub's second learning cycle: Tackling Poverty in a Changing Climate. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Children and Disasters: Understanding Impact and Enabling Agency

Children in a Changing Climate (2011)

This report synthesises the research outputs to produce a comprehensive report looking into the need both for child sensitive programmes to tackle disasters and climate change, but also at the need for child participation in programming and policy. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Exploring climate change and disaster governance issues

Research on the governance implications of climate change and disasters for developing countries is in its infancy. Climate change brings new challenges to informal and formal institutions, and reveals new levels of uncertainty that forces us to ask questions about those governance systems. More details

Harnessing Synergies: Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation in Disaster Risk Reduction Programmes and Policies

A new report from IDS and ActionAid provides practical tips, advice and guidance for those working in the Disaster Risk Reduction sector. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Accountability for Disaster Risk Reduction: Lessons from the Philippines

CDG Working Paper 2 (2010)

This research seeks to overcome the accountability gap in processes intending to operationalise state accountability for disaster risk reduction (DRR), by understanding accountability in development as a social and political process with a focus on the role of civil society organisations (CSOs) in empowering citizens to hold policymakers to account. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Vulnerability, Resilience and Development Discourses in Context of Climate Change

Natural Hazards 55.3 (2010)

The paper discusses how the current climate change debate influences the way in which development is conceptualised, negotiated and implemented. The objective of the article is to explore some of the underlying controversies that characterise development discourses in the context of climate change. More details

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