Virtual Workshop: "Everyday Adaptations to Climate Change"

9 - 11 June, 2021

Coastal adaptation, Bangladesh (Flickr: Marufish)

Unprecedented turbulence, unimagined opportunities for some, and remarkable inequalities mark contemporary times. Climate change and biodiversity loss, overlaid on poverty, hunger and famine, threaten, but some more than others – as recent disasters and a global pandemic have demonstrated. Recent experience has brought home with particular force the importance of thinking more closely and systematically how adaptations to climate change can be more equitable. The relevance of equity is evident whether we consider longer or shorter-term, rapid or slow-onset, anticipated or unpredictable stressors and damages. The literature on adaptation is vast. Its breadth and depth, and interests of those working on the subject suggest a particular need to think and innovate about how everyday adaptations can be more equitable, more just, more fair. With the above background, the Sustainability and Development Initiative seeks to brought together scholars working on adaptation to climate change, with a particular focus on local and community adaptations, to share their work and develop a special issue on the topic.

We choose the phrase everyday adaptations to highlight the fact that the vast majority of adaptations to climate risks of many kinds occur regularly and without external assistance. They are ubiquitously distributed and are incremental in nature. Collectively they have the potential to be transformational. Drawing upon an extensive history of research on the everyday, we conceptualize everyday adaptations to include the full range of local and community-based adaptations – psychological, behavioral, and material – that shape the lives of their practitioners in diverse topographical, socioecological, political-economic, and cultural contexts. They can be complementary or in tension with large-scale, externally driven, capital-intensive adaptation efforts. As such, their relationship to non-everyday adaptations is of particular interest, especially where equity and justice are concerned.

The workshop on “Everyday Adaptations to Climate Change” was held virtually in June 2021.  It was interactive, intensive, intimate, and diverse. Participants were primarily students and junior scholars and many were based in lower- and middle-income countries (L&MICs).


Participation was free and to enhance inclusivity, equity, and collectivity, we encouraged contributions from those whose resources enable them to do so, for use towards open access fees for scholars from L&MICs who participate in the special issue.

The papers are now under review at Ecology and Society.


Workshop Coordinators:

Arun Agrawal, University of Michigan
James Erbaugh, Dartmouth University

Maria Carmen Lemos, University of Michigan

Chuan Liao, Arizona State University
Ben Orlove, Columbia University
Jesse Ribot, American University

Cristy Watkins, University of Michigan