Analyzing the risk of Maladaptation: Implications for adaptation projects among development agencies

University essay from Lunds universitet/Avdelningen för Riskhantering och Samhällssäkerhet

Abstract: The need for climate change adaptation is widely acknowledged and adaptation projects around the world are proliferating. Despite being one of the key actors for the implementation of adaptation projects, significant knowledge gaps persist regarding the potential maladaptive outcomes of such projects for international non-governmental organizations. This study analyses practitioners' perspectives on effective adaptation, maladaptation, and existing challenges and opportunities to provide recommendations for better practice. A qualitative descriptive case study was conducted using a mixed-methods approach, including 15 semi-structured interviews, a systematic literature review, and project document analysis. The research highlights the need for a holistic understanding of successful adaptation, with justice and equity as the central focus of adaptation planning. This study also identifies key challenges in addressing the risk of maladaptation, including funding mechanisms, insufficient contextual understanding, conceptual ambiguity, inadequate adaptive learning, and poor project practice. Additionally, this paper contributes to the emerging literature on maladaptation from practitioners' perspectives and provides recommendations and guiding questions to consider potential adverse outcomes of projects. Ultimately, this research demonstrates that maladaptation could be a useful tool to transform adaptation practices among organizations and ensure sustainable and effective adaptation projects.

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