Adaptation pathways to inform policy and practice in the context of development

Edward Sparkes, Edmond Totin*, Saskia E. Werners, Russell M. Wise, James R.A. Butler, Katharine Vincent

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Adaptation pathways are a decision-focused approach to account for future uncertainties and complexities in planning and implementation of adaptation actions. The pathways approach incorporates flexibility into decision making to accommodate for changing conditions over time, and to reduce undesirable path dependencies and maladaptive consequences. While the pathways approach for adaptation planning has received great interest from both climate scientists and practitioners, there has been little specific guidance on how to implement them and how to sustain the resulting outcomes. Accordingly, pathways approaches include diversified methodologies, with scope for reorienting and adjusting methods for different decision contexts. This special issue explores both theoretical and empirical cases of adaptation pathways in different contexts. A learning framework on adaptation pathways has been developed from a systematic review of adaptation literature. In this editorial, the framework is used to characterize the twelve case studies presented in the special issue, followed by a synthesis of lessons which point to some critical research gaps in adaptation pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-285
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • Adaptation
  • Adaptation pathways
  • Climate change
  • Decision-making
  • Uncertainty


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