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Words Matter: Agreeing on a Definition to Further Climate Change Action

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Systemic problems require systemic change. Or, put a different way, collaborative problem-solving requires agreement on clearly defined issues, terms, and steps forward. This kind of collective work can be, in a word, daunting.

What is transformational adaptation?

In the fight against climate change, the term “transformational adaptation” very generally means systemic change, and refers to efforts that go beyond incremental responses to the challenge of climate change. Even though there is a lot of interest in supporting these radical efforts, funding organizations for climate change adaptation efforts do not always agree on an exact definition, or on specific action items. This lack of agreement on what to fund is yet one more barrier for least developed countries, who will need additional aid and support. Climate change is affecting the whole globe, but it is the places most lacking in resources who stand to suffer the most.

A Content Analysis Ensues

In an effort to candidly address how funds have put the concept of transformational adaptation into practice, Prof. Laura Kuhl and colleagues at the United Nations Development Programme, one of the largest implementers of adaptation projects in the world, analyzed business documents and communications from four international climate change funds associated with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: the Least Developed Country Fund, the Special Climate Change Fund, the Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund. Their findings revealed that acknowledging the tension that arises from lack of agreement is an important first step toward more effective climate change adaptation that supports the most vulnerable. The study is published in Climate and Development, and the whole article is available here.

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