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Conclusion: Reconceptualising adaptation and comparing experiences

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Abstract

This chapter draws out key ideas and recommendations about ‘the way forward’, bringing the recent policy developments (AR5, the SDGs, COP 21 and Habitat III) into dialogue with the rich material presented in this book. Evidently, context is central to understanding adaptation processes. The types of impact that climate change imposes and the responses of households, communities and municipal authorities to those impacts are very much dependent on the specific environmental, socio-economic and institutional context. In almost all cases presented here, households and communities are actively adapting but the effectiveness of those adaptations varies greatly both within and between cases. Towards the end of the conclusion, we re-engage with the ‘ladder of adaptive capacity’ presented in Chapter 2 , to shape our understanding of the diverse forms of adaptation across the chapters. This framework is proposed as an analytical device rather than a ‘best practice’ prescription. In an ideal world all adaptation would be transformative, but in reality, with households and communities having very different levels of capacity for collective action and highly varied external institutions to partner with, moving from acquiescence to coping and/or from coping to progressive adaptation may be a ‘best fit’ approach.