Adaptation to climate change is one of two principal response strategies to the problem of humaninduced climate change (the other response strategy is “mitigation”, which is to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases, or GHGs).
The principle difference between these two response strategies is that mitigation attempts to prevent the climate change problem from occurring at all (or getting worse), whilst adaptation aims to cope with the problem of climate impacts when they occur. This article describes how adaptation issues have been addressed in the climate negotiations to date. Because the impacts of climate change are likely to increase in the coming years and there is growing realisation that vulnerable countries and communities will be disproportionately adversely affected, much more attention is now being paid to adaptation than was previously the case, particularly by development organisations (see also Agrawala and Pachauri, this Bulletin). This article describes what is meant by adaptation, before focusing in more detail on the challenges facing the international community as it tries to gear up to responding to climate change. Specific actions on how adaptation can be mainstreamed in development, including financial issues, are provided in the concluding section.
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 35.3 (2004) Mainstreaming Adaptation in Development