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Choosing Salient Approaches and Methods for Adaptation

This policy brief sets out a summary of guidance for choosing the salient methods and approaches for adaptation.
Multiple Authors
Minh Giang Tran


There is increasing interest in research that supports adaptation on the ground as adaptation moves from theory to practice. In response, there is a greater need to consider the approaches and methods for adaptation, and to use existing and new decision support tools, including methods that address uncertainty. At the same time, policy analysts, consultants and researchers who wish to assess climate change vulnerability, impacts and adaptation (CCVIA) are currently confronted with a large number of concepts, methods, frameworks, guidelines and toolboxes to choose from.

The FP7 MEDIATION project has undertaken a detailed review of these approaches and methods, and has tested them in a series of case studies. It has used these to provide guidance to help choose the appropriate methods for adaptation. The findings are included on the MEDIATION Common Platform and summarised in a set of policy briefing notes.

This policy brief sets out a summary of guidance for choosing the salient methods and approaches for adaptation.

Key messages

  1. There is no standard recipe for addressing climate change adaptation. Adaptation challenges are diverse and depending on the specific challenge, different natural and social science research approaches as well as practice approaches are appropriate.
  2. The MEDIATION project has developed a diagnostic framework that supports selecting appropriate approaches and methods for a given adaptation challenge.
  3. Different approaches may lead to different conclusions regarding further research needs and/or adaptation practice.
  4. More social science research on adaptation governance is needed. Adaptation research most often focuses on appraising decisions and under-emphasises conflicting interests and collective action involved in adaptation. Social science targeted at this can inform the selection and design of appropriate policy instruments.
  5. MEDIATION has developed a novel systematic terminology to support cumulating scientific knowledge on adaptation. This improves upon the current scientific terminology for CCVIA, which is not adequate for understanding the diversity of approaches and methods applied.

Suggested Citation

Bisaro and Hinkel (2013). Choosing salient approaches and methods for adaptation: Decision Support Methods for Adaptation, MEDIATION Project, Briefing Note.

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no. 244012.

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