Environmental Management

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 753–764 | Cite as

The Value of Linking Mitigation and Adaptation: A Case Study of Bangladesh

  • Jessica M. Ayers
  • Saleemul Huq


There are two principal strategies for managing climate change risks: mitigation and adaptation. Until recently, mitigation and adaptation have been considered separately in both climate change science and policy. Mitigation has been treated as an issue for developed countries, which hold the greatest responsibility for climate change, while adaptation is seen as a priority for the South, where mitigative capacity is low and vulnerability is high. This conceptual divide has hindered progress against the achievement of the fundamental sustainable development challenges of climate change. Recent attention to exploring the synergies between mitigation and adaptation suggests that an integrated approach could go some way to bridging the gap between the development and adaptation priorities of the South and the need to achieve global engagement in mitigation. These issues are explored through a case study analysis of climate change policy and practice in Bangladesh. Using the example of waste-to-compost projects, a mitigation-adaptation-development nexus is demonstrated, as projects contribute to mitigation through reducing methane emissions; adaptation through soil improvement in drought-prone areas; and sustainable development, because poverty is exacerbated when climate change reduces the flows of ecosystem services. Further, linking adaptation to mitigation makes mitigation action more relevant to policymakers in Bangladesh, increasing engagement in the international climate change agenda in preparation for a post-Kyoto global strategy. This case study strengthens the argument that while combining mitigation and adaptation is not a magic bullet for climate policy, synergies, particularly at the project level, can contribute to the sustainable development goals of climate change and are worth exploring.


Adaptation Mitigation Climate change responses Sustainable development Bangladesh South Asia 



The authors would like to thank the reviewers of this piece, whose comments and recommendations contributed significantly to the improvement of the manuscript. Thanks also go to Dr. Tim Forsyth, London School of Economics, for his comments on early drafts of this work. We also acknowledge the Bangladesh Centre of Advanced Studies for their help in coordinating this research and all those who gave their valuable time in sharing their knowledge and opinions, both in the United Kingdom and in Bangladesh, particularly Dr. Ijaz Hossain (Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology), Dr. Mizan R Khan (North South University), Dr. Moinul Islam Sharif (UNEP), Iftekhar Enayetullah and Maqsood Sinha (Waste Concern), Mohammad Reazuddin (Department of Environment), all those from the Climate Change Cell, Aminul Islam (UNDP), Ian Rector (CDMP), Mizanur Rahman (Practical Action), and Maeve Hall (WaterAid Bangladesh). This paper was updated by fieldwork supported by the Economic and Social Research Council.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Development Studies InstituteLondon School of EconomicsLondonUK
  2. 2.International Institute of Environment and DevelopmentLondonUK

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