UBC Faculty Research and Publications

From needs to actions : prospects for planned adaptations in high mountain communities McDowell, Graham; Harris, Leila; Koppes, Michèle Nathalie; Price, Martin F.; Chan, Kai Ming Adam, 1975-; Lama, Dhawa G.


Adaptation needs in high mountain communities are increasingly well documented, yet most efforts to address these needs continue to befall mountain people who have contributed little to the problem of climate change. This situation represents a contravention of accepted norms of climate justice and calls attention to the need for better understanding of prospects for externally resourced adaptation initiatives in high mountain areas. In response, this paper examines the architecture of formal adaptation support mechanisms organized through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and how such mechanisms might help to meet adaptation needs in high mountain communities. It outlines key global adaptation initiatives organized through the UNFCCC, clarifies idealized linkages between these global adaptation initiatives and meeting local adaptation needs, and evaluates actual progress in connecting such support with discrete adaptation needs in the upper Manaslu region of Nepal. The paper then critically examines observed shortcomings in matching adaptation support organized through the UNFCCC with local adaptation needs, including complications stemming from the bureaucratic nature of formal adaptation support mechanisms, the intervening role of the state in delivering aid, and the ways in which these complexities intersect with the specific socio-cultural contexts of mountain communities. It concludes by highlighting several prospects for increasing the quantity and quality of adaptation support to mountain communities. These opportunities are considered alongside several salient concerns about formal adaptation support mechanisms in an effort to provide a well-rounded assessment of the prospects for planned adaptations in high mountain communities.

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