Decisions & Strategic Planning Group

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

An evaluation of adaptation pathway theories and applications for climate resilient policy development and transformation.

Several CSIRO researchers have co-authored a series of papers focusing on adaptation pathways in the context of transformational policy development in a special issue of the journal of Environmental Science & Policy.

Adaptation pathways are a decision-focused approach to account for future uncertainties and complexities in planning for future climate challenges. Pathways help decision-makers to sequence climate change mitigation measures over time for flexible implementation and may identify no or low regrets interventions that avoid undesirable path dependencies and mal-adaptive consequences.

This issue focuses on evaluating the utility of different conceptual approaches to adaptation pathways applied to different contexts, at different scales, and with different stakeholder groups. Both researchers and practitioners are experimenting with the development and implementation of adaptation pathways in different policy situations, including sustainable development and climate disaster risk mitigation. And more recently tested in contexts where the goals are ambitious, and knowledge is highly varied and contested. This special issue synthesises key lessons across case studies of pathway development, and propose guiding principles for pathway formulation, and a future research agenda.

Adaptation pathways diagram

Image: Propositions and outcomes in the learning framework on adaptation pathways development Credit: (Werners et al., 2021a).