What is the nature of vulnerability and resilience to climate change at the community scale in Pacific island countries (PICs)? What approaches to climate change adaptation
are most appropriate at this scale? These questions are examined in the context of rural Vanuatu, a Melanesian least developed country particularly susceptible to changes in climate variability and extremes. Fieldwork on the islands of Santo. Efate and Mota Lava interpreted vulnerability by beginning with local perceptions and experiences of dealing with climate risks. Vulnerability to climate arises from a context of rapid social change. Predominantly 'non-climate' factors such as population growth, land issues, changing traditional governance and eroding traditional knowledge are linked to changing agricultural practices, natural resource degradation, and increasing reliance on imports. These factors and processes affect the ways and degree to which communities are able to cope with climate stresses such as tropical cyclones, drought and heavy rain. However, research findings challenge the common notion that Pacific Island communities are inherently vulnerable; each community engages endogenous mechanisms of resilience.
Aspects of this resilience may be threatened however especially where resilience depends on flexibility and self sufficiency, and particularly given increasing climatic uncertainty
in the future, hi this context therefore, 'adaptation to climate change' requires communities to adapt to both changing climatic and social situations.
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