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A challenge for development or challenging development : ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change in the Hindu Kush Himalayas

Pfefferle, Nicole LU (2016) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20162
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
Mountains provide a variety of ecosystem services, such as drinking water, which sustains not only
mountain communities but also people living further downstream. While climate change threatens
most ecosystems, its negative impacts are up to three times greater in high altitudes. As well as
changing the water cycle this further accelerates climate change. Although they contribute
comparably little to climate change, developing countries are most vulnerable to its negative impacts
and in need of adaptation. Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) to climate change is promising due to
its low implementation costs, climate robustness and sustainability. The aim of this thesis is to
investigate the suitability of mainstreaming EbA into current... (More)
Mountains provide a variety of ecosystem services, such as drinking water, which sustains not only
mountain communities but also people living further downstream. While climate change threatens
most ecosystems, its negative impacts are up to three times greater in high altitudes. As well as
changing the water cycle this further accelerates climate change. Although they contribute
comparably little to climate change, developing countries are most vulnerable to its negative impacts
and in need of adaptation. Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) to climate change is promising due to
its low implementation costs, climate robustness and sustainability. The aim of this thesis is to
investigate the suitability of mainstreaming EbA into current development practices. Thus, this paper
researches the success factors and challenges of EbA with a specific focus on the role of
participation. Subsequently, the research findings are analysed for their suitability with the current
development paradigm. The paper uses a triangulation of research methods, including a policy and
literature review, interviews with project facilitators, and field observation. The results of the field
research, studying an EbA project in the mid-hills of Nepal, show that EbA has numerous success
factors but also poses challenges. Connecting EbA measures to livelihood improvement and
providing immediate economic benefits was the main success factor as well as challenge, followed by
the need to provide community trainings and to reach a common understanding of the approach. A
key challenge is that EbA requires a cross-regional approach as political boundaries differ from
ecosystem boundaries. Furthermore, EbA requires community participation, considering the five to
10 year period required for results to show in contrast to the mostly shorter project periods. While
EbA scholars aim to mainstream the approach, current development practices and EbA have shown
to mismatch on temporal and spatial scales, and to conflict on the requirement for participation. The
inherent uncertainty in climate change predictions adds complexity to mainstreaming the approach.
Therefore, this thesis suggests there is a need for a shift in perspective towards a view of
development that encourages individual capabilities to adapt to climate change. Sen’s capabilities
approach has been applied to illustrate that an alternative perspective on development work could
maximize the potential of EbA; freeing the approach from constantly justifying its effectiveness in
terms of economic growth and allowing development to be as dynamic as required by the changing
environment. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Pfefferle, Nicole LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20162
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
climate change, ecosystem-based adaptation, participation, development, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2016:031
funder
Axel Andersson's fund
language
English
id
8893804
date added to LUP
2016-10-26 22:53:15
date last changed
2016-10-26 22:53:15
@misc{8893804,
  abstract     = {Mountains provide a variety of ecosystem services, such as drinking water, which sustains not only
mountain communities but also people living further downstream. While climate change threatens
most ecosystems, its negative impacts are up to three times greater in high altitudes. As well as
changing the water cycle this further accelerates climate change. Although they contribute
comparably little to climate change, developing countries are most vulnerable to its negative impacts
and in need of adaptation. Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) to climate change is promising due to
its low implementation costs, climate robustness and sustainability. The aim of this thesis is to
investigate the suitability of mainstreaming EbA into current development practices. Thus, this paper
researches the success factors and challenges of EbA with a specific focus on the role of
participation. Subsequently, the research findings are analysed for their suitability with the current
development paradigm. The paper uses a triangulation of research methods, including a policy and
literature review, interviews with project facilitators, and field observation. The results of the field
research, studying an EbA project in the mid-hills of Nepal, show that EbA has numerous success
factors but also poses challenges. Connecting EbA measures to livelihood improvement and
providing immediate economic benefits was the main success factor as well as challenge, followed by
the need to provide community trainings and to reach a common understanding of the approach. A
key challenge is that EbA requires a cross-regional approach as political boundaries differ from
ecosystem boundaries. Furthermore, EbA requires community participation, considering the five to
10 year period required for results to show in contrast to the mostly shorter project periods. While
EbA scholars aim to mainstream the approach, current development practices and EbA have shown
to mismatch on temporal and spatial scales, and to conflict on the requirement for participation. The
inherent uncertainty in climate change predictions adds complexity to mainstreaming the approach.
Therefore, this thesis suggests there is a need for a shift in perspective towards a view of
development that encourages individual capabilities to adapt to climate change. Sen’s capabilities
approach has been applied to illustrate that an alternative perspective on development work could
maximize the potential of EbA; freeing the approach from constantly justifying its effectiveness in
terms of economic growth and allowing development to be as dynamic as required by the changing
environment.},
  author       = {Pfefferle, Nicole},
  keyword      = {climate change,ecosystem-based adaptation,participation,development,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {A challenge for development or challenging development : ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change in the Hindu Kush Himalayas},
  year         = {2016},
}