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Adaptation across contexts: Value tradeoffs as a lens for learning from adaptation

Authors: Jason Hawes*, University of Michigan, Zhao Ma, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, Morey Burnham, Department of Sociology, Criminology, and Social Work, Idaho State University, Rebecca Nixon, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University
Topics: Global Change
Keywords: adaptation, global environmental change, frameworks, methods
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual Track 9
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Building on a conceptual framework outlined by Becca Nixon in the context of the Swat and Kabul River Valleys in Pakistan, this presentation seeks to demonstrate the utility of such a framework for cross-context analysis of adaptation decision making. Decision making is grounded in context, and work examining the multi-scalar nature of adaptation has revealed that adaptation decisions and outcomes are particularly sensitive to socio-ecological interactions and feedbacks. Given this, it is especially difficult to generate generalizable lenses through which to analyze and project adaptation outcomes. However, accelerating environmental change and increasing rates of associated policy change mean that cross-context understanding of adaptation is more critical than ever. In Part 1 of this research, Nixon et al. describe the utility of value tradeoffs in understanding and potentially predicting adaptation decisions. Here we build on this tradeoffs framework, drawing on two case studies of adaptation to water scarcity to demonstrate the utility of value tradeoffs for understanding adaptation across contexts. Analyzing results from semi-structured interviews with primary producers in Idaho, USA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, we examine the ways in which a tradeoffs lens can help us to port insights from one adaptation context to another. Our results demonstrate that explicit and implicit tradeoffs are integral in adaptation decision-making of individual and institutional actors facing increased water stress. Further, we suggest that our findings indicate that a tradeoffs lens may provide an entry point for the anticipatory analysis of interactions between public and private adaptation in various contexts.

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