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Indicators for Social and Economic Coping Capacity – Moving Toward at Working Definition of Adaptive Capacity

Listed author(s):
  • Gary W. Yohe
  • Richard S.J. Tol


    (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin)

This paper offers a practically motivated method for evaluating systems’ abilities to handle external stress. The method is designed to assess the potential contributions of various adaptation options to improving systems’ coping capacities by focusing attention directly on the underlying determinants of adaptive capacity. The method should be sufficiently flexible to accommodate diverse applications whose contexts are location specific and path dependent without imposing the straightjacket constraints of a “one size fits all” cookbook approach. Nonetheless, the method should produce unitless indicators that can be employed to judge the relative vulnerabilities of diverse systems to multiple stresses and to their potential interactions. An artificial application is employed to describe the development of the method and to illustrate how it might be applied. Some empirical evidence is offered to underscore the significance of the determinants of adaptive capacity in determining vulnerability; these are the determinants upon which the method is constructed. The method is, finally, applied directly to expert judgements of six different adaptations that could reduce vulnerability in the Netherlands to increased flooding along the Rhine River.

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Paper provided by Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University in its series Working Papers with number FNU-8.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2001
Date of revision: Jun 2001
Publication status: Published, Global Environmental Change, 12 (1), 25-40
Handle: RePEc:sgc:wpaper:8
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References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Barry Smit & Ian Burton & Richard Klein & J. Wandel, 2000. "An Anatomy of Adaptation to Climate Change and Variability," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 223-251, April.
  2. B. Smit & I. Burton & R.J.T. Klein & R. Street, 1999. "The Science of Adaptation: A Framework for Assessment," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 199-213, September.
  3. Thomas Downing & Lasse Ringius & Mike Hulme & Dominic Waughray, 1997. "Adapting to climate change in Africa," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 19-44, March.
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