After Adaptation: Assessing the enduring impacts of climate change adaptation projects in the Ecuadorian Andes

Authors: Megan Mills-Novoa*, University of Arizona - Geography & Development
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Latin America, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: climate change adaptation, Latin America, human dimensions of global change
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 15
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As climate change impacts escalate, donors, international organizations, and state actors are implementing adaptation projects that seek to make landscapes and livelihoods more resilient. These projects typically last 5 years, at which time these actors withdraw, and local communities are left to sustain adaptation interventions. However, to date, few studies have examined what unfolds after adaptation projects end. This talk draws on 3 years of mixed-method and collaborative research to explore diverging understandings of success and failure in the wake of a concluded climate change adaptation project in Ecuador. The project is assessed based on community-generated criteria for success drawn from participant observation, participatory mapping, interviews, and quantitative surveys with project participants, adaptation professionals, and local leaders. This study highlights the spatial and temporal contingencies of “success,” demonstrating how national and local actors differentially define and measure the relative success of adaptation projects. This research contributes to the limited scholarship on the enduring impacts of planned adaptation projects, highlighting the uncertain legacy of these interventions for marginalized communities.

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