It has been argued that adaptation to climate change should be integrated with development activities, and that it is time to pursue its 'mainstreaming' within such programmes (Burton 2009). Though, in principle, this would seem to be a crucially important step to take, in order to ensure that adaptation is not a mere afterthought, left for a time at which all other goals have been achieved, the proposal should be considered with some caution. One potential problem that has been noted is that decision-makers may welcome the combition of adaptation and development as a way to avoid assigning substantial new resources to adaptation (Huq and Reid 2009). In the past it has been assumed that these types of unfortute mishaps in the delivery of development can, and should, be corrected by more closely targeting the least well-off for the kinds of changes from which they can authentically benefit. It will be argued here from the perspective of human security, with support from Amartya Sen's capability approach, that these impacts on the poor may be understood, at least partially, as a result of neglect for the fundamental capability of self-determition and agency (Sen 1985, 1993; Clark 2006). From this perspective, even if development succeeds in the delivery of a certain goods (such as satisfaction of basic needs, improved incomes, health, security, and so on) it remains problematic if it is carried out without consideration of capabilities for self-determition of those affected. More specifically, it will be proposed that endogenous-led adaptation is superior to its altertives in at least two ways. First, endogenous-led, adaptation as such already constitutes an achievements in human security since it exemplifies the crucially important capability for self-determition. Second, endogenous-led adaptation likely is more successful in increasing resilience than other approaches (cp. Carey 2008). This paper will be illustrated by reference to a case of adaptation to landslide hazards based on endogenously generated social capital (Aldunce forthcoming). We conclude that the goals and priorities of those who are affected the most - because least well-off - should especially be taken into account, and that a focus on the capability for self-determition is fundamental in the pursuit of human security in the context of adaptation.

Presented at Conferences

  • 2010 International Climate Change Adaptation Conference: Climate Adaptation Futures (2010)

    Gold Coast Convention Centre