Informing adaptation responses to climate change through theories of transformation
Park, SE and Marshall, N and Jakku, E and Dowd, AM and Howden, SM and Mendham, E and Flemming, A, Informing adaptation responses to climate change through theories of transformation, Global Environmental Change, 22, (1) pp. 115-126. ISSN 0959-3780 (2012) [Refereed Article]
Transformative actions are increasingly being required to address changes in climate. As an aid to understanding and supporting informed decision-making regarding transformative change, we draw on theories from both the resilience and vulnerability literature to produce the Adaptation Action Cycles concept and applied framework. The resulting Adaptation Action Cycles provides a novel conceptualisation of incremental and transformative adaptation as a continuous process depicted by two concentric and distinct, yet linked, action learning cycles. Each cycle represents four stages in the decision-making process, which are considered to be undertaken over relatively short timeframes. The concept is translated into an applied framework by adopting a contextual, actor-focused suite of questions at each of the four stages. This approach compliments existing theories of transition and transformation by operationalising assessments at the individual and enterprise level. Empirical validation of the concept was conducted by collaborating with members of the Australian wine industry to assess their decisions and actions taken in response to climate change. The contiguous stages represented in the Adaptation Action Cycles aptly reflected the diverse range of decision-making and action pathways taken in recent years by those interviewed. Results suggest that incremental adaptation decision-making processes have distinct characteristics, compared with those used in transformative adaptation. We provide empirical data to support past propositions suggesting dependent relationships operate between incremental and transformative scales of adaptation.