Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change: Lessons from Tanna Island, Vanuatu


Clarke, Tahlia, Karen E. McNamara, Rachel Clissold, and Patrick D. Nunn. 2019. “Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change: Lessons from Tanna Island, Vanuatu.” Island Studies Journal 14 (1): 59-80.

Authors: Tahlia Clarke, Karen E. McNamara, Rachel Clissold, Patrick D. Nunn


Community-based adaptation has gained significant international attention as a way for communities to respond to the increasing threats and complex pressures posed by climate change. This bottom-up strategy represents an alternative to the prolonged reliance on, and widespread ineffectiveness of, mitigation methods to halt climate change, in addition to the exacerbation of vulnerability resulting from top-down adaptation approaches. Yet despite the promises of this alternative approach, the efficacy of community-based adaptation remains unknown. Its potential to reduce vulnerability within communities remains a significant gap in knowledge, largely due to limited participatory evaluations with those directly affected by these initiatives, to determine the success and failure of project design, implementation, outcomes and long-term impact. This paper seeks to close this gap by undertaking an in-depth evaluation of multiple community-based adaptation projects in Tanna Island, Vanuatu and exploring community attitudes and behavioural changes. This study found that future community-based adaptation should integrate contextual specificities and gender equality frameworks into community-based adaptation design and implementation, as well as recognise and complement characteristics of local resilience and innovation. In doing this, the critical importance of looking beyond assumptions of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as homogenous, primarily vulnerable to climate change and lacking resilience, was also recognised.

Keywords: adaptation, climate change, community-based resilience, Small Island Developing States (SIDS), vulnerability

Topics: Development, Environment, Climate Change, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality Regions: Oceania Countries: Vanuatu

Year: 2020

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