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Adaptation for whom? Geographies of private climate adaptation finance in Indonesia

Authors: Sean Kennedy*, University of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Hazards and Vulnerability, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: climate change adaptation, climate finance, Indonesia
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Growing recognition of the worsening impacts of climate change has brought climate adaptation and climate adaptation finance to the forefront of international climate policy discourse. Calls for a rapid increase in private adaptation finance come amidst a history of related private sector initiatives, which, while not explicitly labeled as climate adaptation, have attempted to mitigate the impacts of climate change through risk reduction and corporate social responsibility. Operating through globalized supply chains, these strategies have often involved engagement with primary producers in the global South, many of whom are 'double exposed' to the impacts of intensifying climate change and neoliberal agrarian reform.

This paper examines the ways that private climate adaption finance – broadly defined – articulates with the structural and environmental processes shaping cocoa smallholder vulnerability in rural Indonesia. Following an overview of the private adaptation investment landscape in Indonesia, I examine the discursive formation and implementation of agri-foods giant Mars’ recent efforts to increase the productivity and environmental sustainability of smallholder cocoa farmers on the island of Sulawesi. I argue that by reinforcing power imbalances in existing market relations and isolating climate impacts from the broader suite of processes shaping conditions of smallholder vulnerability, such efforts may ultimately limit rather than expand conditions of possibility for transformative adaptation. By teasing out the discursive and distributional politics of adaptation investment, this work points the way to forms of adaptation intervention that may more meaningfully engage with the complex realities of contemporary vulnerability in the global South.

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