Climate change scenarios have significant implications for tRachel Bezner Kerr, Lars Otto Naess, Bridget Allen-O’Neil, Edmond Totin, Hanson Nyantakyi-Frimpong, Camilla Risvoll, Marta G. Rivera Ferre, Feliu López-i-Gelats, Siri Eriksenhe livelihoods and food security of particular groups in society and will necessitate a range of adaptation actions. While there is a significant literature on the social as well as biophysical factors and limits to adaptation, less is known about the interactions between these, and what such interactions mean for the prospects of achieving sustainable and resilient food systems. This paper is an attempt at addressing this gap by examining changing biophysical and social factors, with specific consideration of vulnerable groups, across four case studies (Ghana, Malawi, Norway and Spain). In each case, future climate change scenarios and associated biophysical limits are mapped onto four key social factors that drive vulnerability and mediate adaptation, namely, scale, history, power and politics, and social differentiation. We then consider what the interaction between biophysical limits and socio-political dynamics means for the options for and limits to future adaptation, and how climate may interact with, and reshape, socio-political elements. We find that biophysical limits and socio-political factors do not operate in isolation, but interact, with dynamic relationships determining the ‘space’ or set of options for sustainable adaptation. By connecting the perspectives of biophysical and social factors, the study illuminates the risks of unanticipated outcomes that result from the disregard of local contexts in the implementation of adaptation measures. We conclude that a framework focusing on the space for sustainable adaptation conditioned by biophysical and social factors, and their interactions, can help provide evidence on what does and does not constitute sustainable adaptation, and help to counter unhelpful narratives of climate change as a sole or dominant cause of challenges in food systems.
Interplays between changing biophysical and social dynamics under climate change: Implications for limits to sustainable adaptation in food systems
Rachel Bezner Kerr, Lars Otto Naess, Bridget Allen-O’Neil, Edmond Totin, Hanson Nyantakyi-Frimpong, Camilla Risvoll, Marta G. Rivera Ferre, Feliu López-i-Gelats, Siri Eriksen
Global Change Biology