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Broader, ubiquitous, ambiguous: What does mainstreaming adaptation mean, and when is it appropriate?

This brief, which builds on discussions at the Adaptation Futures 2016 conference, examines how the concept of mainstreaming adaptation has evolved, and how it should be balanced with stand-alone adaptation research.

Clarisse Kehler Siebert / Published on 2 February 2017

Kehler Siebert, C. (2017). Broader, ubiquitous, ambiguous: What does mainstreaming adaptation mean, and when is it appropriate?. Adaptation Futures Discussion Brief.

“Mainstreaming” is a term of art for those working in the field of climate change adaptation. While it has been framed in multiple ways, it has come to describe the imperative to integrate adaptation into development policy and, more recently, into other relevant policy areas.

Mainstreaming is widely seen as an effective and pragmatic approach to achieve adaptation goals, given competing demands on a finite set of financial, human and institutional resources and capacities. This brief uses discussions at Adaptation Futures 2016 to show how adaptation practice is expanding the use of mainstreaming even further.

Mainstreaming adaptation into other areas of policy is, objectively, not a “good” or “bad” strategy, but rather depends on the questions “when?” and “for what purpose?”

Understanding the challenges and solutions particular to adaptation is necessary but insufficient to adequately plan for and implement adaptation. There is a role for stand-alone adaptation research to develop this understanding, and a role for interdisciplinary approaches to plan for and implement adaptation in a resource-efficient manner.

Download the discussion brief (PDF, 1.03MB)

Adaptation Futures Discussion Briefs

Drawing on insights from Adaptation Futures 2016: Practices and Solutions, these discussion briefs examine unresolved or evolving issues in adaptation research, policy and practice. In the spirit of the conference, they aim help policy-makers, practitioners and researchers, international processes, projects and initiatives to digest and act upon state-of-the-art adaptation research. The series is also intended as input into the agenda of the Global Centre of Excellence on Climate Change Adaptation, announced by the Government of the Netherlands at the Marrakech Climate Change Conference (COP22), as a legacy of Adaptation Futures 2016. Any views expressed here are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the conference co-hosts.

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