The inevitability of changes occurring to the climate at both global and local scales is now a well-established reality. Confidence is currently higher than in previous assessments with regard to projected patterns of warming and other features of a regional scale, including changes in wind patterns, precipitation and some aspects of extremes and sea ice. For poor countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, climate change adds another layer of complexity to already existing development challenges, such as high levels of poverty and inequality, rapid population growth, underdeveloped financial markets and weak governance systems.
Given its wide array of impacts on and interactions with wider development, climate change will inevitably have considerable implications for humanitarian and development interventions. Accordingly, there is a need to consider how humanitarian and development approaches can, in many instances, help enhance communities’ capacity to adapt to a changing climate or, at the very least, prevent actions that undermine adaptive capacity.
This paper reviews how aspects of disaster risk reduction, social protection and livelihoods approaches may act in contributing to the various features of adaptive capacity. It provides part of the theoretical basis for a project led by Oxfam and supported by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI): the Africa Climate Change Resilience Alliance (ACCRA), which also includes Save the Children UK, World Vision International and CARE. The paper does not seek to expand on the conceptual underpinnings of adaptive capacity; rather, it aims to find out what aspects of disaster risk reduction, social protection and livelihoods approaches can contribute to adaptive capacity, as well as to understand how such approaches can better respond to climate change and facilitate adaptation.