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Transformational adaptation to climate change in lower-income countries

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By Tim Frazier, Erik Wood, and Eirini Maria Pitta


Disasters create a window of opportunity for societies to transform themselves. An increase in the frequency and intensity of disasters attributable to climate change will present an increase in these transformational adaptation opportunities, which can promote equitable economic growth and sustainable development. Climate change adaptation (CCA) strategies that seek to transform a region from an agricultural and resource extraction-based economy to an industrialized-technological or service-based economy can thus have more sustainable adaptive capacity (AC) outcomes. This mixed methods study included a review of the literature on current adaptive capacity indexes (ACIs) and compared the findings with the significant obstacles and determinants of AC and CCA found in a pilot case study survey from coastal areas in Ghana. The objective is to develop a framework skewed towards sustainable, equitable, and transformational development. The literature review indicated that existing ACIs have been largely national or generic, specific to rural areas, or focused on agriculture while specific findings from the case study were also supported by the literature. A central finding of this research was that climate change-related risks, vulnerabilities, and impacts are compounded by and linked with key development challenges. The resultant Transformational Capacity Index (TCI) could be useful in promoting this type of sustainable adaptation in other communities while simultaneously targeting sustainable development, CCA, and equitable mitigation measures.