This paper highlights the need to identify points of linkage and create synergy between adaptation strategies and sustainable development in order to promote ‘sustainable adaptation’. Using case studies from Nigeria, South Africa, Chile, and Norway, the paper highlights four principles of sustainable adaptation:
- recognition of the context of vulnerability including multiple stressors
- recognition of different values and interests that can affect adaptation outcomes
- integration of local knowledge into the adaptation responses
- consideration of potential feedback between local and global processes
The authors discuss the possibilities and limitations for achieving sustainable adaptation in practice, and argue that attention to the principles of sustainable adaptation can significantly contribute towards socially and environmentally sustainable responses to climate change. The paper further argues that adaptation is a process, rather than a set of strategies and measures for addressing specific impacts. Thus the principles of sustainable adaptation are based on, and will further influence, a host of broader socio-economic and environmental factors over different spatial and temporal scales. The paper concludes by stating that the translation of these principles into practice faces a number of gaps. It is asserted that this discussion primarily seeks to stimulate thinking that links adaptation and sustainability.