How to make climate adaptation more equal

News Apr 19, 2021

The impacts of climate change tend to hurt vulnerable groups the most, but adaptation measures can also increase inequality if they fail to consider transboundary dimensions. A new policy brief proposes a framework for resilience built on justice and connectedness – also across borders.


It is well known that climate change is contributing to growing water stress and food insecurity, which can increase inequality and fuel latent conflicts. Similarly, people who are hungry and desperate are also more vulnerable to exploitation by criminal networks or armed groups. To address this is therefore a global security concern.

A growing body of research also suggests that shocks and stresses in one country are increasingly likely to be felt, and sometimes made worse, in other countries thousands of kilometres away. In today’s globalized world it is often difficult to understand the many intricate interlinkages through trade, financial flows, the movement of people, and shared biophysical systems such as river basins.

To address this, the world needs a broad approach to climate adaptation that takes transboundary dimensions into consideration and builds resilience on regional and global scales. A contribution can be found in the new policy brief Just transition for climate change adaptation from the Stockholm Climate Security Hub, proposing a framework for resilience built on justice and connectedness.

The policy brief is written by Dr Mats Eriksson and Dr Martina Klimes from SIWI, together with Frida Lager, Kevin M. Adams, Adis Dzebo, and Prof. Richard J.T. Klein from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI).

“This is important because just adaptation to climate change will also contribute to strengthening human security in the affected regions, it will contribute to maintaining people’s dignity and improve social cohesion within and beyond national borders,” says Dr Martina Klimes.

The publication draws on research and experiences from the International Centre for Water Cooperation, a UNESCO Category II centre hosted by SIWI. Dr Mats Eriksson feels the suggested framework could help countries develop adaptation strategies that are more effective and more just. “The need for stepping up adaptation to climate-induced water hazards is immense, particularly in Asia and Africa, and it is of great importance to ensure that adaptation projects and measures are planned and implemented with a good understanding of the wider impact scope,” he says.