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Making sense of maladaptation: Nordic agriculture stakeholders’ perspectives

Neset, Tina-Simone, Asplund, Therese, Käyhkö, Janina, Juhola, Sirkku
Climatic change 2019 v.153 no.1-2 pp. 107-121
agricultural industry, climate change, environmental impact, focus groups, stakeholders, Finland, Sweden
The need for climate change adaptation has been widely recognised and examples of successful adaptation are increasingly reported in the literature, but little attention has so far been paid to the potential negative impacts of implemented adaptation measures. As the agricultural sector is implementing measures to adapt to or cope with climatic variability and change, the potential negative consequences of these measures need to be explored in order to avoid increased vulnerability or (unintended) environmental impacts. This paper employs serious gaming and focus group methodology to study how agricultural stakeholders in Sweden and Finland frame and negotiate the unintended negative impacts of adaptation measures. The results of our interactional frame analysis suggest that the participants negotiated the potential maladaptive outcomes depending on: (1) whether they agreed that this was indeed a potential consequence of an adaptation measure, (2) whether they considered this to be a negative outcome, and if so whether it was (3) a negative outcome which they could adapt to, (4) a negative outcome that would make it preferable not to adapt at all (5) negotiable in terms of a trade-off with alternative outcomes. While it may be obvious that adaptation options that increase vulnerability should be avoided, this study illustrates the complex, value based, individual, yet dialogical processes and contextual basis for identifying and assessing maladaptation.