The ‘Pacific Adaptive Capacity Analysis Framework’: guiding the assessment of adaptive capacity in Pacific island communities

Abstract

Community-based adaptation (CBA) is becoming an increasingly popular approach to climate change adaptation in the Pacific islands region. Building adaptive capacity should be an important component of projects supporting CBA. The literature establishes that adaptive capacity is highly context and culture specific. However, to date, there has been little research into the factors and processes that enable adaptive capacity in Pacific island communities. This paper discusses the Pacific Adaptive Capacity Analysis Framework, a theoretical framework developed to guide assessment of adaptive capacity for the purposes of supporting CBA projects. The framework identifies seven broad factors and several sub-factors of Pacific-specific adaptive capacity: (1) human capital; (2) social capital; (3) belief systems, worldviews, and values; (4) resources and their distribution; (5) options for adaptation, livelihood, and food supply; (6) information and awareness; and (7) history of dealing with climate stress. The paper presents a case study of adaptive capacity from a community in the Solomon Islands and concludes that unlike many adaptive capacity determinants identified in the broader international literature, function-based (factors shaping ability to access and use resources) and cognitive (for example, values and belief systems) determinants are of particular relevance in the Pacific community social and cultural context. The key to building upon cognitive and function-based aspects of adaptive capacity is increasing the ability of people to liaise with external support organisations to plan and acquire resources for adaptation on their own terms.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    The Red Cross Movement-wide participatory approach to involving communities in assessing their vulnerability to, and capacity to cope with, hazards and other problems.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge and sincerely thank the following: the Pileni Island community; Cameron Vudi Ngatulu (SIRC), George Tego (SIRC), and Tim Lewis-Nicholson (IFRC), the co-authors of the Pileni study project report; members of the PACAF development team; Francisna Christmarine L. Fernando for editing; and many colleagues who have peer-reviewed the manuscript over time. The PACAF was developed with support from the Australian Government under the Pacific Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning (PACCSAP) Program.

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Correspondence to Olivia Warrick.

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Warrick, O., Aalbersberg, W., Dumaru, P. et al. The ‘Pacific Adaptive Capacity Analysis Framework’: guiding the assessment of adaptive capacity in Pacific island communities. Reg Environ Change 17, 1039–1051 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-016-1036-x

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Keywords

  • Adaptive capacity
  • Climate change
  • Community-based adaptation
  • Pacific islands
  • Solomon Islands