Climate change adaptation

Climate change adaptation


How to use this guide

This guide can be read online using the links to its seven sections at the top of this page. The full guide can also be downloaded as a PDF (44 pages; 481kB).

The guide includes one-paragraph summaries of key texts. Clicking on the link in a document title will take the reader to a second, longer summary of the document. Direct links to the original text are also given.

About this guide

Climate change is now recognised as a mainstream development issue. Developing countries are expected to suffer most severely from the impacts of climate change, which threatens to exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and hinder progress on attaining the Millennium Development Goals. At the same time, those most vulnerable to climate change are also least responsible for causing it, whilst the imperative to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions places greater pressure on developing countries to shift to low carbon development pathways.

This topic guide focuses on adaptation to climate change in developing countries from a governance and social development perspective. It explores how climate change is likely to impact on the poorest and most vulnerable, and some of the response measures which might be adopted.

Although beyond the remit of this topic guide, it is recognised that an understanding of the relationship between adaptation and mitigation is key to assessing the synergies and trade-offs among different policy options. A brief introduction to these issues is presented in the context of low carbon and climate resilient development.  

The guide was written by Andrew McDevitt (GSDRC) in November 2010, in collaboration with Andrew Clayton (DFID), Tom Mitchell (Overseas Development Institute), Blessings Chinsinga (University of Malawi), and Mozaharul Alam (United Nations Environment Programme). Comments, questions or documents for consideration should be sent to:

Latest additions

The guide was last updated in June 2012, and the following document summaries were added in March 2012: