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Towards a holistic conceptualisation of adaptive capacity at the local level: insights from the Local Adaptive Capacity framework (LAC)

Working papers

Written by Lindsey Jones

Presented at the ‘Building Livelihoods Resilience in a Changing Climate’ conference, Kuala Lumpur, 3-5th March, this paper focuses on the Local Adaptive Capacity framework (LAC), developed under the Africa Climate Change Alliance Project (ACCRA), as an innovative initiative that attempts to move towards a better understanding of its core features through isolating five characteristics of adaptive capacity.

Demonstrated through findings from field research across three African countries (Ethiopia, Mozambique and Uganda), this paper argues that frameworks for understanding and supporting adaptive capacity at the local level need to move away from focusing only on what communities have that enable them to adapt- such as its various economic, social, human, natural and physical capitals- to a greater acknowledgement of what a community does that enables it to adapt- such as fostering innovation; promoting forward-looking flexible governance; and re-defining maladapative norms, behaviours and institutions.

By departing from traditional asset-based frameworks for conceptualising local adaptive capacity, the study highlights the important role that various intangible and dynamic processes, such as flexibility, innovation, and entitlements play in supporting capacity at the community level.

Lastly, this paper explores how the LAC can be used to assess the important role that interventions not necessarily associated with climate change can play in helping a community’s capacity to adaptive to climate variability and change. In doing so the paper makes a number of recommendations for researchers, policy makers and development practitioners alike, in helping to move towards a framework for understanding of adaptive capacity at the local level with aim the ultimate aim of supporting interventions that help to enhance it.

Lindsey Jones