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Closing the adaptation gap in mountains


Abstract

Over 1 billion people are living at the frontlines of climate change in mountain areas, where warming rates outpace the global average and are driving significant changes in environments and ecosystem services. These changes are exacerbating socioeconomic difficulties faced by many mountain communities, and are already intensifying vulnerabilities across mountain areas globally. The situation is indicative of pervasive and consequential deficits in adaptation, and calls attention to the need for a better understanding of existing adaptation efforts, as well as the prospects for increasing the quantity and quality of adaptation action in mountain regions. In response, this MountainAgenda article introduces a conceptual framework for adaptation gaps. It then uses data from 2 major global-scale adaptation reviews to shed light on the nature and true magnitude of the adaptation gap in mountains. It reveals shortcomings in available adaptation options, deficits in the uptake of existing adaptation support, and a general lack of coherence between existing adaptations and keystone global agreements relevant to climate change adaptation. These shortcomings are largely related to soft limits to adaptation that constrain responses across mountain areas. In this article, we provide recommendations for closing the adaptation gap in mountains and suggest that this will require deeply collaborative efforts that are rooted in local needs, aspirations, and ways of knowing, but that are also supported by external capacity building and implementation resources. In many instances, this will resemble a transformative approach to adaptation. The conceptual framework presented here is broadly applicable and can also be utilized to identify and close adaptation gaps in social-ecological contexts beyond mountains.

Abstract

Over 1 billion people are living at the frontlines of climate change in mountain areas, where warming rates outpace the global average and are driving significant changes in environments and ecosystem services. These changes are exacerbating socioeconomic difficulties faced by many mountain communities, and are already intensifying vulnerabilities across mountain areas globally. The situation is indicative of pervasive and consequential deficits in adaptation, and calls attention to the need for a better understanding of existing adaptation efforts, as well as the prospects for increasing the quantity and quality of adaptation action in mountain regions. In response, this MountainAgenda article introduces a conceptual framework for adaptation gaps. It then uses data from 2 major global-scale adaptation reviews to shed light on the nature and true magnitude of the adaptation gap in mountains. It reveals shortcomings in available adaptation options, deficits in the uptake of existing adaptation support, and a general lack of coherence between existing adaptations and keystone global agreements relevant to climate change adaptation. These shortcomings are largely related to soft limits to adaptation that constrain responses across mountain areas. In this article, we provide recommendations for closing the adaptation gap in mountains and suggest that this will require deeply collaborative efforts that are rooted in local needs, aspirations, and ways of knowing, but that are also supported by external capacity building and implementation resources. In many instances, this will resemble a transformative approach to adaptation. The conceptual framework presented here is broadly applicable and can also be utilized to identify and close adaptation gaps in social-ecological contexts beyond mountains.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Environmental Chemistry
Social Sciences & Humanities > Development
Physical Sciences > General Environmental Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Environmental Science, Development, Environmental Chemistry
Language:English
Date:14 October 2021
Deposited On:06 Jan 2022 08:52
Last Modified:26 Apr 2024 01:38
Publisher:International Mountain Society
ISSN:0276-4741
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1659/mrd-journal-d-21-00033.1
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)