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Special Issue "Transforming Development and Disaster Risk"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Jonathan E. Ensor

Stockholm Environment Institute, Environment Department, University of York, United Kingdom
E-Mail
Interests: participatory; rights-based and 'bottom-up' development processes; climate change adaptation
Guest Editor
Dr. Frank Thomalla

1. Stockholm Environment Institute—Asia Centre, Bangkok, Thailand
2. Climate and Disaster Risk Research and Consulting (CDRC), Sydney, Australia
E-Mail
Interests: vulnerability; resilience; disaster risk reduction

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue focuses on the complex relationships between development and disaster risk. Development and disaster risk are closely linked as the people and assets exposed to risk, as well as their vulnerability and capacity, are largely determined by developmental processes. Transformation is key to moving away from current development patterns that increase, create or unfairly distribute risks, to forms of development that are equitable and resilient. The search for transformative pathways is ongoing and may, for example, look to expose trade-offs in development policy, or prioritize equity and social justice for marginalized communities and groups in approaches to vulnerability reduction. Increasingly, transformative governance is seen as a vehicle through which these goals can be achieved, yet significant challenges remain if entrenched interests, unequal relations of power, and established ways of knowing and working are to be overturned. Articles submitted to this special issue should contribute case studies of and/or aim to enhance theoretical understanding of where and how transformations can occur in the development-disaster risk system; which types of transformations have the potential to significantly reduce disaster risk and contribute to sustainable development, and how they may be achieved in practice, at different scales. Ultimately, the insights from this Special Issue will deepen understanding of transformation, informing decision-making processes and exposing the actions that are required for a substantial and equitable reduction of disaster impacts.

* This special issue is dedicated to our friend and colleague, Nilufar (Neela) Matin, who died in 2017. Neela had worked for the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at our York Centre since 1996. She was passionate about understanding poverty, natural resource management and sustainable development with a strong gender focus, and was a central figure in our work on Transforming Development and Disaster Risk. Neela was a truly multi-disciplinary researcher, whose talents extended from social science and political theory through to policy development and formulation. Neela was hugely experienced. Prior to joining SEI York Neela had worked extensively with a wide range of organizations, including governments, donor agencies, research institutions and NGOs.

Dr. Jonathan E. Ensor
Dr. Frank Thomalla
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Sustainable development
  • Disaster risk reduction
  • Transformation
  • Resilience
  • Trade-offs
  • Social justice

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Transforming Development and Disaster Risk
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1458; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051458
Received: 30 March 2018 / Revised: 30 April 2018 / Accepted: 2 May 2018 / Published: 7 May 2018
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2033 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article focuses on the complex relationship between development and disaster risk. Development and disaster risk are closely linked as the people and assets exposed to risk, as well as their vulnerability and capacity, are largely determined by development processes. Transformation is key [...] Read more.
This article focuses on the complex relationship between development and disaster risk. Development and disaster risk are closely linked as the people and assets exposed to risk, as well as their vulnerability and capacity, are largely determined by development processes. Transformation is key to moving from current development patterns that increase, create or unfairly distribute risks, to forms of development that are equitable, resilient and sustainable. Based on a review of existing literature, we present three opportunities that have the potential to lead to transformation in the development-disaster risk relationship: (i) exposing development-disaster risk trade-offs in development policy and decision-making; (ii) prioritizing equity and social justice in approaches to secure resilience; and (iii) enabling transformation through adaptive governance. This research aims to contribute to breaking down existing barriers in research, policy and practice between the disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and development communities by providing cross-sectoral opportunities to operationalize theoretical knowledge on transformation. It also helps to clarify the connections between different global agendas by positioning transformation as a potential bridging concept to link disconnected policy processes. This paper argues for empirical research to test the opportunities presented here and further define transformative pathways at multiple scales. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transforming Development and Disaster Risk)
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Open AccessArticle Dark Side of Development: Modernity, Disaster Risk and Sustainable Livelihoods in Two Coastal Communities in Fiji
Sustainability 2017, 9(12), 2315; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9122315
Received: 11 October 2017 / Revised: 22 November 2017 / Accepted: 11 December 2017 / Published: 13 December 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2484 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The world is changing rapidly, as are the remotest rural communities. Modernity is spreading across the world under the guise of development and it is transforming disaster risk. This raises issues concerning how disaster risk is changing in such milieus. Using a sustainable [...] Read more.
The world is changing rapidly, as are the remotest rural communities. Modernity is spreading across the world under the guise of development and it is transforming disaster risk. This raises issues concerning how disaster risk is changing in such milieus. Using a sustainable livelihood approach, this article investigates access to different types of capital that central to the vulnerability of two coastal communities in Fiji that are affected by modernity to different extents. This comparative case study is based on semi-structured interviews, focus groups and observation. The results indicate that modernity transforms access to and use of key capitals (natural, physical, financial, human, and social capital) on both community and household levels, increasing dependence on external resources that are unequally distributed, while undermining social cohesion and support. Although disaster risk might be of a similar magnitude across the board at the community level, modernity transforms vulnerability significantly and skews the distribution of disaster risk, to the detriment of the households left behind by development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transforming Development and Disaster Risk)
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Open AccessArticle Leveraging Post-Disaster Windows of Opportunities for Change towards Sustainability: A Framework
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1390; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051390
Received: 31 March 2018 / Revised: 24 April 2018 / Accepted: 30 April 2018 / Published: 1 May 2018
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (487 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Disasters are catalysts for change: they are increasingly recognized as offering opportunities to direct and navigate change towards aspired outcomes, such as sustainable development goals. However, we know little about how to leverage the opportunities created by disasters to achieve sustainability objectives. Learning [...] Read more.
Disasters are catalysts for change: they are increasingly recognized as offering opportunities to direct and navigate change towards aspired outcomes, such as sustainable development goals. However, we know little about how to leverage the opportunities created by disasters to achieve sustainability objectives. Learning from existing case studies is challenging, partly because there is no framework that integrates concepts of change from both sustainability science and disaster recovery literatures. This study develops a unified analytical framework to facilitate the documentation and analysis of case studies of sustainability transitions following disasters. Our aim is to enhance the potential for theory-building, and to draw lessons that can be used to help leverage opportunities presented by disasters in the future. We apply the framework to available empirical cases and identify specific conditions, resources, social relations and constraints that affect disaster-to-sustainability transitions. Our expectation is that this framework will serve professionals and researchers in the fields of sustainable development and disaster mitigation to enhance the effectiveness of their research and applied activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transforming Development and Disaster Risk)
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Open AccessArticle Bridging Humanitarian Responses and Long-Term Development through Transformative Changes—Some Initial Reflections from the World Bank’s Adaptive Social Protection Program in the Sahel
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1697; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061697
Received: 28 March 2018 / Revised: 20 April 2018 / Accepted: 24 April 2018 / Published: 23 May 2018
PDF Full-text (644 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the context of increasing climate-related extreme events and other crises, the concept of adaptive social protection (ASP) has been recognized as a potentially effective policy response to reduce the impacts of these shocks and stressors on vulnerable households. The concept is currently [...] Read more.
In the context of increasing climate-related extreme events and other crises, the concept of adaptive social protection (ASP) has been recognized as a potentially effective policy response to reduce the impacts of these shocks and stressors on vulnerable households. The concept is currently being tested at scale by the World Bank in six countries in the Sahel region. Based on conceptual considerations, this paper aims to address three questions: How and to what extent can adaptive social protection be considered transformative? Where does this concept sit along the humanitarian–development continuum? And, how does it relate to resilience? To answer these questions the paper draws on the authors’ exposure to the on-going World Bank ASP program, as well as documents derived from the emerging body of literature on climate- and shock-responsive social protection. Drawing on these different materials the paper first demonstrates that ASP can effectively be considered as a transformative intervention at two different levels: at the system level and at the beneficiaries’ level. The paper also shows how, through its activities designed to strengthen households’ adaptive capacity, an ASP program can contribute to building resilience beyond the short-term coping strategies which humanitarian interventions generally focus on. As such ASP covers a larger spectrum along the humanitarian–development continuum than most other interventions proposed in the context of shock-responsive interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transforming Development and Disaster Risk)
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Open AccessArticle A Typology Framework for Trade-Offs in Development and Disaster Risk Reduction: A Case Study of Typhoon Haiyan Recovery in Tacloban, Philippines
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1924; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061924
Received: 29 April 2018 / Revised: 30 May 2018 / Accepted: 4 June 2018 / Published: 8 June 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (323 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Development and disaster risk are deeply linked. Disasters reverse development gains; development initiatives influence the risk, vulnerability, and exposure of people, assets, and environments to disasters. Hence, knowledge of key dimensions of the potential trade-offs between development and disaster risk reduction (DRR) may [...] Read more.
Development and disaster risk are deeply linked. Disasters reverse development gains; development initiatives influence the risk, vulnerability, and exposure of people, assets, and environments to disasters. Hence, knowledge of key dimensions of the potential trade-offs between development and disaster risk reduction (DRR) may inform decision-making processes, goals, and initiatives in ways that have potential to address unsustainable development practices that are commonplace in countries of all economic levels. This paper presents, explores, and tests a conceptual framework for analysing the trade-offs that underpin this relationship as evidenced through policy goals, initiatives, and decision-making processes. We categorise key dimensions of relevant trade-offs into five specific dimensions: (i) The aggregation of development and DRR gains and losses, (ii) risk prioritisation when seeking to reduce multiple risks, (iii) the equity of decision-making processes and outcomes, (iv) the balancing of near- and long-term goals, and (v) the distribution of power and participation. By framing key questions related to each trade-off dimension, we test the framework in the context of a major disaster recovery process in Tacloban, the Philippines, following Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in November 2013. We consider how decision-making trade-offs can be made more visible and useful in the pursuit of transformative change in development and DRR. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transforming Development and Disaster Risk)
Open AccessArticle Transformations for Resilient Rural Futures: The Case of Kaikōura, Aotearoa-New Zealand
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1952; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061952
Received: 7 May 2018 / Revised: 8 June 2018 / Accepted: 10 June 2018 / Published: 11 June 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (4662 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
On 14 November 2016, a magnitude (Mw) 7.8 earthquake struck the small coastal settlement of Kaikōura, Aotearoa-New Zealand. With an economy based on tourism, agriculture, and fishing, Kaikōura was immediately faced with significant logistical, economic, and social challenges caused by [...] Read more.
On 14 November 2016, a magnitude (Mw) 7.8 earthquake struck the small coastal settlement of Kaikōura, Aotearoa-New Zealand. With an economy based on tourism, agriculture, and fishing, Kaikōura was immediately faced with significant logistical, economic, and social challenges caused by damage to critical infrastructure and lifelines, essential to its main industries. Massive landslips cut off road and rail access, stranding hundreds of tourists, and halting the collection, processing and distribution of agricultural products. At the coast, the seabed rose two metres, limiting harbour-access to high tide, with implications for whale watching tours and commercial fisheries. Throughout the region there was significant damage to homes, businesses, and farmland, leaving owners and residents facing an uncertain future. This paper uses qualitative case study analysis to explore post-quake transformations in a rural context. The aim is to gain insight into the distinctive dynamics of disaster response mechanisms, focusing on two initiatives that have emerged in direct response to the disaster. The first examines the ways in which agriculture, food harvesting, production and distribution are being reimagined with the potential to enhance regional food security. The second examines the rescaling of power in decision-making processes following the disaster, specifically examining the ways in which rural actors are leveraging networks to meet their needs and the consequences of that repositioning on rural (and national) governance arrangements. In these and other ways, the local economy is being revitalised, and regional resilience enhanced through diversification, capitalising not on the disaster but the region’s natural, social, and cultural capital. Drawing on insights and experience of local stakeholders, policy- and decision-makers, and community representatives we highlight the diverse ways in which these endeavours are an attempt to create something new, revealing also the barriers which needed to be overcome to reshape local livelihoods. Results reveal that the process of transformation as part of rural recovery must be grounded in the lived reality of local residents and their understanding of place, incorporating and building on regional social, environmental, and economic characteristics. In this, the need to respond rapidly to realise opportunities must be balanced with the community-centric approach, with greater recognition given to the contested nature of the decisions to be made. Insights from the case examples can inform preparedness and recovery planning elsewhere, and provide a rich, real-time example of the ways in which disasters can create opportunities for reimagining resilient futures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transforming Development and Disaster Risk)
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Open AccessArticle What Does Transformation Look Like? Post-Disaster Politics and the Case for Progressive Rehabilitation
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2317; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072317
Received: 9 May 2018 / Revised: 21 June 2018 / Accepted: 27 June 2018 / Published: 4 July 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (248 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper responds to the ‘deliberate transformation’ discourse within climate change and disaster scholarship. It calls for a cautious approach to deliberate transformation as a practice space for non-governmental organisations (NGO), arguing that greater clarity is still needed on precisely what form these [...] Read more.
This paper responds to the ‘deliberate transformation’ discourse within climate change and disaster scholarship. It calls for a cautious approach to deliberate transformation as a practice space for non-governmental organisations (NGO), arguing that greater clarity is still needed on precisely what form these transformations may take, how and where they might be stimulated, and—most importantly—who decides. Drawing on a case study of post-disaster NGO interventions in the Andaman Islands following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the paper analyses the role of community-based, rights-oriented education and advocacy programmes in opening space for communities to critically reflect on state responsibilities, capacities, and weaknesses. It argues that these shifts were potentially transformative for the ways local people interact with the state in Little Andaman; however, it also surfaces pragmatic and ethical challenges to the notion of ‘deliberate transformation’ in practice. The data reveal transformations to be complex, spontaneous, and fundamentally political, with simultaneously divergent pathways of change and re-entrenchment; this presents a deep challenge to external agencies seeking to instigate transformation in planned, linear ways over known timescales. A further challenge relates to deliberate transformation as a normative endeavour. The paper argues that any attempt to actively instigate deliberate transformations according to pre-determined visions held by external actors is a direct contradiction to the principle that progressive transformation—as defined in the literature—should be shaped deliberatively by the values and priorities of citizens themselves. To avoid diluting the radical power of transformation as a principle, the paper proposes progressive rehabilitation as an alternative approach in post-disaster contexts, requiring a transformation of the NGO itself from ‘doing to’ to ‘doing with’ citizens, with an emphasis on supporting locally-defined futures. The paper thickens the conceptualisation and evidence base for transformation pathways, with implications for research and practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transforming Development and Disaster Risk)
Open AccessArticle Towards Risk-Sensitive and Transformative Urban Development in Sub Saharan Africa
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2645; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082645
Received: 26 May 2018 / Revised: 4 July 2018 / Accepted: 20 July 2018 / Published: 27 July 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (468 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Risk-sensitive urban development is required to reduce accumulated risk and to better consider risk when planning new developments. To deliver a sustainable city for all requires a more frank and comprehensive focus on procedure: On who makes decisions, under which frameworks, based upon [...] Read more.
Risk-sensitive urban development is required to reduce accumulated risk and to better consider risk when planning new developments. To deliver a sustainable city for all requires a more frank and comprehensive focus on procedure: On who makes decisions, under which frameworks, based upon what kind of data or knowledge, and with what degree and direction of accountability? Acting on these procedural questions is the promise of transformative urban development. This paper explores the status of risk sensitive and transformative urban development and the scope for transition towards these components of sustainability in urban sub-Saharan Africa through the lens of diverse city cases: Karonga (Malawi), Ibadan (Nigeria), Niamey (Niger) and Nairobi (Kenya). The paper draws from a 3-year research and capacity building programme called Urban Africa: Risk Knowledge that aims to address gaps in data, understandings and capacity to break cycles of risk accumulation. A common analytical framework is presented to help identify blockages and opportunities for transition towards a risk-sensitive and transformative urban development. This framework is then illustrated through each city in turn and a concluding discussion reflects on city observations to draw out recommendations for city level and wider action and research partnerships. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transforming Development and Disaster Risk)
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Open AccessArticle Is Jakarta’s New Flood Risk Reduction Strategy Transformational?
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2934; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082934
Received: 28 May 2018 / Revised: 6 July 2018 / Accepted: 30 July 2018 / Published: 18 August 2018
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Abstract
On a conceptual and normative level, the debate around transformation in the context of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation has been rising sharply over the recent years. Yet, whether and how transformation occurs in the messy realities of policy and action, [...] Read more.
On a conceptual and normative level, the debate around transformation in the context of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation has been rising sharply over the recent years. Yet, whether and how transformation occurs in the messy realities of policy and action, and what separates it from other forms of risk reduction, is far from clear. Jakarta appears to be the perfect example to study these questions. It is amongst the cities with the highest flood risk in the world. Its flood hazard is driven by land subsidence, soil sealing, changes in river discharge, and—increasingly—sea level rise. As all of these trends are set to continue, Jakarta’s flood hazard is expected to intensify in the future. Designing and implementing large-scale risk reduction and adaption measures therefore has been a priority of risk practitioners and policy-makers at city and national level. Against this background, the paper draws on a document analysis and original empirical household survey data to review and evaluate current adaptation measures and to analyze in how far they describe a path that is transformational from previous risk reduction approaches. The results show that the focus is clearly on engineering solutions, foremost in the Giant Sea Wall project. The project is likely to transform the city’s flood hydrology. However, it cements rather than transforms the current risk management paradigm which gravitates around the goal of controlling flood symptoms, rather than addressing their largely anthropogenic root causes. The results also show that the planned measures are heavily contested due to concerns about ecological impacts, social costs, distributional justice, public participation, and long-term effectiveness. On the outlook, the results therefore suggest that the more the flood hazard intensifies in the future, the deeper a societal debate will be needed about the desired pathway in flood risk reduction and overall development planning—particularly with regards to the accepted levels of transformation, such as partial retreat from the most flood-affected areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transforming Development and Disaster Risk)
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Open AccessArticle Improving Development Outcomes and Reducing Disaster Risk through Planned Community Relocation
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3545; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103545
Received: 20 July 2018 / Revised: 28 September 2018 / Accepted: 28 September 2018 / Published: 2 October 2018
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Abstract
The idea of relocation as a transformative disaster risk reduction, climate adaptation, and development strategy follows the assumption that relocation reduces the vulnerability of communities. Yet, it is unclear whose and what kind of vulnerability is reduced through relocation, and which factors are [...] Read more.
The idea of relocation as a transformative disaster risk reduction, climate adaptation, and development strategy follows the assumption that relocation reduces the vulnerability of communities. Yet, it is unclear whose and what kind of vulnerability is reduced through relocation, and which factors are important in determining the “success” of relocation efforts as strategies for development, climate change adaptation (CCA), and disaster risk reduction (DRR). Temporary and short distance relocation is highly likely to achieve increased resilience by reducing exposure, but relocation to a new area and new communities brings a range of issues. CCA and DRR use different timescales and focal points regarding relocation: CCA focuses on future mass permanent relocation and the subsequent potential loss of cultures and identities mainly due to projected sea level rise. The DRR community focuses on temporary relocation as a way to reduce exposure to a range of hazards, although it is also involved in permanent movement as a transformative way to reduce risk and enhance development. We explore these differences in this paper, with examples mainly from the Pacific Small Island Developing States where past relocations have been numerous. Better understanding and articulation of the underlying assumptions and preferences in CCA, DRR, and development discourses on planned community relocation could provide a richer context for future planning and dealing with both slow-onset and sudden disasters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transforming Development and Disaster Risk)
Open AccessArticle Characteristics of Transformational Adaptation in Climate-Land-Society Interactions
Sustainability 2019, 11(2), 356; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11020356
Received: 7 October 2018 / Revised: 25 December 2018 / Accepted: 25 December 2018 / Published: 11 January 2019
PDF Full-text (340 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Countries across the world aspire towards climate resilient sustainable development. The interacting processes of climate change, land change, and unprecedented social and technological change pose significant obstacles to these aspirations. The pace, intensity, and scale of these sizeable risks and vulnerabilities affect the [...] Read more.
Countries across the world aspire towards climate resilient sustainable development. The interacting processes of climate change, land change, and unprecedented social and technological change pose significant obstacles to these aspirations. The pace, intensity, and scale of these sizeable risks and vulnerabilities affect the central issues in sustainable development: how and where people live and work, access to essential resources and ecosystem services needed to sustain people in given locations, and the social and economic means to improve human wellbeing in the face of disruptions. This paper addresses the question: What are the characteristics of transformational adaptation and development in the context of profound changes in land and climate? To explore this question, this paper contains four case studies: managing storm water runoff related to the conversion of rural land to urban land in Indonesia; using a basket of interventions to manage social impacts of flooding in Nepal; combining a national glacier protection law with water rights management in Argentina; and community-based relocation in response to permafrost thaw and coastal erosion in Alaska. These case studies contribute to understanding characteristics of adaptation which is commensurate to sizeable risks and vulnerabilities to society in changing climate and land systems. Transformational adaptation is often perceived as a major large-scale intervention. In practice, the case studies in this article reveal that transformational adaptation is more likely to involve a bundle of adaptation interventions that are aimed at flexibly adjusting to change rather than reinforcing the status quo in ways of doing things. As a global mosaic, transformational change at a grand scale will occur through an inestimable number of smaller steps to adjust the central elements of human systems proportionate to the changes in climate and land systems. Understanding the characteristics of transformational adaptation will be essential to design and implement adaptation that keeps society in step with reconfiguring climate and land systems as they depart from current states. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transforming Development and Disaster Risk)
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