A framework for assessing community adaptation to climate change in a fisheries context

2018 November 19

Galappathithi, E.K., Ford, J.D. and Bennet, E.M. (2019). A framework for assessing community adaptation to climate change in a fisheries contextEnvironmental Science and Policy92, pp. 17-26.


There is a rapidly growing body of scholarship on climate change adaptation in diverse contexts globally. Despite this, climate adaptation at the community level has not received adequate conceptual attention, and a limited number of analytical frameworks are available for assessing place-specific adaptations, particularly in a fisheries context. We use conceptual material from social-ecological systems (SES) resilience and human development resilience to build an integrated framework for evaluating community adaptations to climate change in a fisheries setting. The framework defines resilience as the combined result of coping, adapting, and transforming—recognizing resilience as a system’s capacity and as a process. This understanding of resilience integrates with the three development resilience concepts of resistance, rootedness, and resourcefulness to develop ‘place-based elements’ which refer to collective action, institutions, agency, and indigenous and local knowledge systems. The proposed framework can capture a local setting’s place-specific attributes relating to the well-being of individuals, households, and communities, and the through integration of SES and human development conceptualizations addresses some of the key critiques of the notion of resilience. We have proposed this framework for application in context-specific environments—including fisheries—as a means of assessing community adaptations.

Interested in working with @ccadapt to pioneer the use of big data in climate policy analysis?

2018 November 9

Applications have now opened for the Panorama NERC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). James has two PhD projects that are eligible for funding from the start of the 2019 academic year at the University of Leeds, for which he is either primary or co-supervisor:

For more information, full project descriptions, and details on how to apply, please click on the project titles hyperlinked above.

James is in Vienna this week reviewing UN climate change programming

2018 October 31

James is in Vienna this week (Oct 29th-Nov 2nd), working with the UN to examine agency programming on climate change. His work is specifically focusing on how adaptation can be integrated into ongoing programming, the extent to which this is occurring, and challenges faced. The work is particularly timely with the recent release of the IPCC special report on the impacts of 1.5C of warming which calls for enhanced action of climate change.

Understanding weather and hospital admissions patterns to inform climate change adaptation strategies in the healthcare sector in Uganda

2018 October 30

Bishop-Williams, K.E., Berrang-Ford, L., Sergeant, J.M., Pearl, D.L., Lwasa, S., Bambaiha, D.B., Edge, V.L., Cunsolo, A., IHACC Research Team, Bwindi Community Hospital, Huang, Y., Ford, J.D., Garcia, P., Harper, S.L. (2018). Understanding weather and hospital admissions patterns to inform climate change adaptation strategies in the healthcare sector in Uganda. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health15, article number: 2402.


Season and weather are associated with many health outcomes, which can influence hospital admission rates. We examined associations between hospital admissions (all diagnoses) and local meteorological parameters in Southwestern Uganda, with the aim of supporting hospital planning and preparedness in the context of climate change. Methods: Hospital admissions data and meteorological data were collected from Bwindi Community Hospital and a satellite database of weather conditions, respectively (2011 to 2014). Descriptive statistics were used to describe admission patterns. A mixed-effects Poisson regression model was fitted to investigate associations between hospital admissions and season, precipitation, and temperature. Results: Admission counts were highest for acute respiratory infections, malaria, and acute gastrointestinal illness, which are climate-sensitive diseases. Hospital admissions were 1.16 (95% CI: 1.04, 1.31; p = 0.008) times higher during extreme high temperatures (i.e., >95th percentile) on the day of admission. Hospital admissions association with season depended on year; admissions were higher in the dry season than the rainy season every year, except for 2014. Discussion: Effective adaptation strategy characteristics include being low-cost and quick and practical to implement at local scales. Herein, we illustrate how analyzing hospital data alongside meteorological parameters may inform climate-health planning in low-resource contexts.

Vulnerability and its discontents: the past, present, and future of climate change vulnerability research

2018 October 26

Ford, J.D., Pearce, T.D., McDowell, G., Berrang-Ford, L., Sayles, J.S. and Belfer, E. (2018). Vulnerability and its discontents: the past, present, and future of climate change vulnerability research. Climatic Change, published online.


The concept of vulnerability is well established in the climate change literature, underpinning significant research effort. The ability of vulnerability research to capture the complexities of climate-society dynamics has been increasingly questioned, however. In this paper, we identify, characterize, and evaluate concerns over the use of vulnerability approaches in the climate change field based on a review of peer-reviewed articles published since 1990 (n = 587). Seven concerns are identified: neglect of social drivers, promotion of a static understanding of human-environment interactions, vagueness about the concept of vulnerability, neglect of cross-scale interactions, passive and negative framing, limited influence on decision-making, and limited collaboration across disciplines. Examining each concern against trends in the literature, we find some of these concerns weakly justified, but others pose valid challenges to vulnerability research. Efforts to revitalize vulnerability research are needed, with priority areas including developing the next generation of empirical studies, catalyzing collaboration across disciplines to leverage and build on the strengths of divergent intellectual traditions involved in vulnerability research, and linking research to the practical realities of decision-making.