Social Science for Climate Change
Susan Moser

Adaptation Success

What does successful adaptation look like?

This is a question to whichplanners, policy makers and other professionals charged with the task of developing and implementing adaptation strategies need urgent answers. There is no clear guidance as to what success would look like, what to aim for and how to judge progress.

To begin answering this question, I have co-edited a book with Max Boykoff that tries to provide both scientifically informed and practice-relevant answers from various sectors and regions of the world. It brings together leading experts within the field to present careful analyses of different cases and situations, questioning throughout commonly avowed truisms and unspoken assumptions that have pervaded climate adaptation science and practice to date.

It identifies the various dimensions of success, explores the tensions between them, and compiles encouraging evidence that resolutions can be found. It appraises how climatic and non-climatic stressors play a role, what role science does and can play in adaptation decision-making, and how trade-offs and other concerns and priorities shape adaptation planning and implementation on the ground.

To further advance the thinking on successful adaptation, I am working with colleagues in California, Washington and Oregon to explore what success might mean in the real-world context of coastal management. The project engaged an interdisciplinary group of academic experts and coastal professionals and government leaders from each of the three West Coast states to illuminate process and outcome dimensions of success. Results coming soon....

You can read a book review here and find related publications here.

For other relevant work, see: