Research on adapting society to climate change and its effects has increased dramatically in recent years. Many studies on the ability to adapt from the global to the local level have contributed to a better understanding of the forces driving adaptation to climate change, as well as the obstacles involved. We are now in a position where more and more studies are starting to identify negative effects of potential climate adaptation measures. These include increased emissions of greenhouse gases, increased socio-economic vulnerability for certain social groups and conflicts between different environmental objectives, such as climate adaptation versus biodiversity. These negative effects of adaptation measures are called maladaptation; measures intended to adapt to climate change may have effects, often unintentional, that may increase vulnerability instead of decreasing it.
Maladaptation in agriculture
Despite this increasing awareness, an overall discussion on maladaptation is still missing. This project aimed to identify and evaluate threshold values for maladaptation in the agricultural sector. It also analyzed trade-offs between various strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change. The project was based on a new methodology that integrates visualization, participatory methods and serious gaming. Representatives from the agricultural sector in Sweden and Finland participated by playing a specifically designed game, in which they explored adaptation measures the potential negative consequences of such measures. The game is web-based and can be accessed at maladaptationgame.info
The following research issues were studied:
- How can Maladaptation be conceptualized?
- What measures can lead to maladaptation in the agricultural sector in the Nordic countries?
- What are Nordic agricultural stakeholders’ perceptions of maladaptation?
- What trade-offs can be identified between different adaptation measures, between adaptation and mitigation, and between adaptation and other policies and measures related to agriculture?
- What are the benefits and challenges of using serious games as support in interviews and focus group dialogues?
The results of the project are summarized in the Project Briefing.