Maladaptation: inescapable or preventable?
Vulnerability in social-ecological systems might be transferred through maladaptation, disconnectedness, risk perceptions and place attachment. But what are the traits of maladaptation? Is it possible to develop a typology of maladaptation based on the outcomes? And how can the unintended consequences due to maladaptation be avoided? We compiled a database of maladaptation that transferred vulnerability, based on our research on coastal vulnerability in three case studies in Cornwall (UK); Languedoc-Roussillon (France) and Eden (South Africa). We included information about a) description of the adaptation; b) who is pursuing the adaptation; c) the intended goal of the adaptation and d) unintended consequence; e) who / what bore the consequences; and e) the root cause(s). We then inductively developed a typology of maladaptation and its consequences using several iterations of inspection, classification, consensus seeking and re-classification. The ultimate driver of maladaptation is partiality: partial participation of knowledge-holders; partial incorporation of knowledge through e.g. considering only single disciplines or sectors; incomplete spatial perspectives; and incomplete temporal perspectives. This results in misdirected policies (soft infrastructure), and misemployed hard infrastructure. Maladaptation can be typified by win-win consequences (everyone gains); lose-lose (everyone is worse off); spatial win-lose (actors at one scale or place gain while actors at another scale or place are worse off); temporal win-lose (present actors gain while future actors are worse off). A diagram depicts the different dimensions and nuances of maladaptation. Maladaptation can be avoided by considering broader spatial, temporal and social scales; bearing plausible futures in mind; listening to more knowledge holders; collaborating across disciplines and sectors; thinking about the long term social and ecological consequences. These findings may assist researchers in exploring the nuances of adaptation and maladaptation and help practitioners and policy makers become more aware of the unintended consequences of their decisions for people and ecosystems.
Contributed session oral presentation
Wednesday, 23 August
11:00 - 12:30
11:00 - 12:30