, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 427-449

Strategies to enhance adaptability: Technological change, sustainable growth and free trade

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Abstract

This article proposes three broad interrelated strategies - stimulating technological change, sustainable economic growth and free, unsubsidized trade - to enhance future adaptability to global (including climate) change and some principles for developing the social, legal and economic frameworks necessary to effect these strategies. The proposals are based upon an examination of the present and potential contributions of the strategies to sustainability, adaptability, and mitigation (limitation) of environmental changes, and the various synergies between these strategies. The strategies and principles would meet criteria which recognize that climate change is inevitable, that any climate change will occur in the context of already-occurring global change due to other agents of change, and that reducing vulnerability to these other changes will increase the future adaptability to climate change. Specifically, the strategies should: (a) increase the ability to feed, clothe and shelter the world's expanding population regardless of the agent of change; (b) reduce vulnerability of forests, habitats and biological diversity to demographic and other environmental stresses; (c) be compatible with mitigation measures; (d) be independent of results from more detailed and accurate site-specific impacts assessments which will be unavailable for several years; (e) be implementable today; and (f) have clear benefits now and in the future.