Global climate change is a signifcant challenge to structures of governance at alltemporal and spatial scales, particularly in the area of managing natural resources. Advancesin understanding of the nature of observed and future climate change has led to a realizationthat signi®cant future impacts are inevitable and increased efforts towards understanding theprocess of adaptation to the threatened impacts are required. This paper examines the issue ofscale of governance relevant for adaptation. The UN Framework Convention on ClimateChange is the primary mechanism for co-ordinating international action on the threat ofglobal climate change. The Convention process perceives adaptation as a further rationale forinternational transfers, in this case to compensate for and prepare for potential or realisedimpacts. This approach can be justi®ed by recourse to the idea that enhancing sustainabledevelopment will enhance adaptive capacity and that planned activities are a key part ofoverall adaptation. But many adaptations to climate change will be spontaneous actions toperceived and actual risks in the environment. Thus institutional and economic parametersdetermine the underlying vulnerability and adaptive capacity of societies. I therefore arguethat an understanding of adaptation processes allows interventions and planned adaptations atthe most appropriate scales. I illustrate these arguments with reference to adaptation inagriculture and outline the insights from interdisciplinary development studies that can informthe climate change debates .
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