Climate adaptation, local institutions, and rural livelihoods

The success of historically developed adaptation practices among the rural poor depends crucially on the nature of prevailing formal and informal rural institutions. This paper focuses on how rural institutions can help shape and enhance the adaptation practices of the rural poor in relation to climate change-induced risks and how external interventions can help strengthen the functioning of rural institutions relevant to adaptation. It presents a brief typology of rural institutions using the familiar distinction between public, civic, and private sectors, surveys some important recent work on adaptation, and then outlines an analytical framework through which to view the relationship between rural institutions, adaptation due to climate change, and livelihoods of the rural poor. It applies this analytical framework to 118 cases of adaptation practices drawn from the UNFCCC’s coping strategies database.