W. Neil Adger

W. Neil Adger
University of Exeter | UoE · College of Life and Environmental Sciences

About

316
Publications
278,422
Reads
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59,342
Citations
Additional affiliations
April 2012 - present
University of Exeter
Position
  • Professor (Full)
January 2000 - April 2012
University of East Anglia
Position
  • Professor
February 1992 - March 2012
University of East Anglia
Position
  • Professor

Publications

Publications (316)
Article
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Risks from extreme weather events are mediated through state, civil society and individual action. We propose evolving social contracts as a primary mechanism by which adaptation to climate change proceeds. We use a natural experiment of policy and social contexts of the UK and Ireland affected by the same meteorological event and resultant floodin...
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Society's response to every dimension of global climate change is mediated by culture. We analyse new research across the social sciences to show that climate change threatens cultural dimensions of lives and livelihoods that include the material and lived aspects of culture, identity, community cohesion and sense of place. We find, furthermore, th...
Article
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Climate change is altering the productivity of natural resources with far-reaching implications for those who depend on them. Resource-dependent industries and communities need the capacity to adapt to a range of climate risks if they are to remain viable. In some instances, the scale and nature of the likely impacts means that transformations of f...
Article
The influence of the environment and environmental change is largely unrepresented in standard theories of migration, whilst recent debates on climate change and migration focus almost entirely on displacement and perceive migration to be a problem. Drawing on an increasing evidence base that has assessed elements of the influence of the environmen...
Article
Climate change is increasingly been called a ‘security’ problem, and there has been speculation that climate change may increase the risk of violent conflict. This paper integrates three disparate but well-founded bodies of research – on the vulnerability of local places and social groups to climate change, on livelihoods and violent conflict, and...
Article
Background There is limited knowledge on the distribution of the health co-benefits of reduced air pollutants and carbon emissions in the transport sector across populations. Methods This Article describes a health impact assessment used to estimate the health co-benefits of alternative land passenger transport scenarios for the city of Beijing, C...
Article
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Transformation toward a sustainable future requires an earth stewardship approach to shift society from its current goal of increasing material wealth to a vision of sustaining built, natural, human, and social capital—equitably distributed across society, within and among nations. Widespread concern about earth’s current trajectory and support for...
Article
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The increasing frequency of extreme events, exogenous and endogenous, poses challenges for our societies. The current pandemic is a case in point; but "once-in-a-century" weather events are also becoming more common, leading to erosion, wildfire and even volcanic events that change ecosystems and disturbance regimes, threaten the sustainability of...
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While material conditions of migrant populations on average tend to improve over time as they become established in new destinations, individual trajectories of material and subjective well‐being often diverge. Here, we analyse how social and environmental factors in the urban environment shape the subjective well‐being of migrant populations. We h...
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Migration represents a major transformation of the lives of those involved and has been transformative of societies and economies globally. Yet models of sustainability transformations do not effectively incorporate the movement of populations. There is an apparent migration-sustainability paradox: migration plays a role as a driver of unsustainabi...
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Catchment resilience is the capacity of a combined social ecological system, comprised of water, land, ecological resources and communities in a river basin, to deal with sudden shocks and gradual changes, and to adapt and self-organize for progressive change and transform itself for sustainability. This paper proposes that analysis of catchments a...
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It is widely suggested that migration is a key mechanism linking climate change to violent conflict, particularly through migration increasing the risks of conflict in urban destinations. Yet climate change also creates new forms of insecurity through distress migration, immobility and vulnerability that are prevalent in urban destination locations...
Article
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Addressing sources and drivers of precarity among marginalized migrant populations in urban spaces is central to making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable for all. Yet dominant policy discourses continue to frame migrants as problematic causes of insecurity and tend to exclude them from policy processes. Deliberative democratic theor...
Article
Climate change is reshaping the comparative advantage of regions and hence driving migration flows, principally toward urban areas. Migration has multiple benefits and costs in both origin and destination regions. Coordinated policies that recognize how and why people move can reduce future costs and facilitate adaptation to climate change both wit...
Article
Community resilience is commonly held to be critical for coping with adversity and disturbance. Although the process of community resilience is often contested and critiqued, the enactment of social relations within communities has been shown to ameliorate the worst impacts of disaster events on the well-being of their members. Here, we propose tha...
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Resource-based livelihoods are uncertain and potentially unstable due to variability over time, including seasonal variation: this instability threatens marginalised populations who may fall into poverty. However, empirical understanding of trajectories of household well-being and poverty is limited. Here, we present a new household-level model of...
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The potential links between climate and conflict are well studied, yet disagreement about the specific mechanisms and their significance for societies persists. Here, we build on assessment of the relationship between climate and organized armed conflict to define crosscutting priorities for future directions of research. They include (1) deepening...
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While the benefits humans gain from ecosystem functions and processes are critical in natural resource-dependent societies with persistent poverty, ecosystem services as a pathway out of poverty remain an elusive goal, contingent on the ecosystem and mediated by social processes. Here, we investigate three emerging dimensions of the ecosystem servi...
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The science of resilience suggests that urban systems become resilient when they promote progressive transformative change to social and physical infrastructure. But resilience is challenged by global environmental risks and by social and economic trends that create inequality and exclusion. Here we argue that distortionary inequality and precarity...
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We consider two aspects of the human enterprise that profoundly affect the global environment: population and consumption. We show that fertility and consumption behavior harbor a class of externalities that have not been much noted in the literature. Both are driven in part by attitudes and preferences that are not egoistic but socially embedded;...
Article
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The unprecedented global heatwave of 2014–2017 was a defining event for many ecosystems. Widespread degradation caused by coral bleaching, for example, highlighted the vulnerability of hundreds of millions of people dependent on reefs for their livelihoods, well-being, and food security. Scientists and policy makers are now reassessing long-held as...
Chapter
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What are the possible trajectories of delta development over the coming decades? Trajectories will be determined by the interactions of biophysical trends such as changing sediment supplies, subsidence due to compaction of sediment and climate change, along with key socio-economic trends of migration and urbanisation, agricultural intensification,...
Chapter
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Deltas exemplify trends of great acceleration in the Anthropocene, including the shape of demographic and mobility transitions. The human core of the Anthropocene involves three principal phenomena: Increased human health evident at the population scale; movement of people to urban settlements; and growth in aggregate populations. Based on this res...
Chapter
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Deltas are microcosms of the global dilemmas of living sustainably within environmental systems that affect human life and well-being. Deltas have become increasingly human-dominated systems over the past century, reflecting a range of changes at global, catchment and delta scales. An integrated perspective of deltas as multiple interacting systems...
Article
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Migration is transformative both for those who move and for the places and economies of source and destination. The global stock of migrants, depending on definition, is approximately 750 million people: to assume that the world is static and that migration is a problem to be managed is inaccurate. Since migration is a major driving force of planet...
Book
The Anthropocene is the human-dominated modern era that has accelerated social, environmental and climate change across the world in the last few decades. This open access book examines the challenges the Anthropocene presents to the sustainable management of deltas, both the many threats as well as the opportunities. In the world’s deltas the Anth...
Article
Sustainability within planetary boundaries requires concerted action by individuals, governments, civil society and private actors. For the private sector, there is concern that the power exercised by transnational corporations generates, and is even central to, global environmental change. Here, we ask under which conditions transnational corporat...
Article
An approach that tackles the underlying causes of coral-reef decline could be applied to other habitats, argue Tiffany H. Morrison, Terry P. Hughes and colleagues. An approach that tackles the underlying causes of coral-reef decline could be applied to other habitats, argue Tiffany H. Morrison, Terry P. Hughes and colleagues. Turtle swimming over b...
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Research findings on the relationship between climate and conflict are diverse and contested. Here we assess the current understanding of the relationship between climate and conflict, based on the structured judgments of experts from diverse disciplines. These experts agree that climate has affected organized armed conflict within countries. Howev...
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Failure to address unsustainable global change is often attributed to failures in conventional environmental governance. Polycentric environmental governance-the popular alternative-involves many centres of authority interacting coherently for a common governance goal. Yet, longitudinal analysis reveals many poly-centric systems are struggling to c...
Article
Research on environmental change has often focused on changes in population as a significant driver of unsustainability and environmental degradation. Demographic pessimism and limited engagement with demographic realities underpin many arguments concerning limits to growth, environmental refugees, and environment-related conflicts. Re-engagement b...
Article
There is increasing evidence that flood events affect the mental health of those experiencing them, with recognition that the period of recovery after the event is particularly important to outcomes. Previous research on flooding has argued that there is a recovery gap that occurs during the long process of recovery at the point when the support pr...
Chapter
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Vulnerability to climate change is highly uneven in society because it is determined by underlying social structures. Pat of the vulnerability of society to the impacts of climate change is the risk of involuntary displacement from place of residence. Such displacement risks have been shown to be increasing due to changes in climate that increase t...
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Climate change risk assessment involves formal analysis of the consequences, likelihoods and responses to the impacts of climate change and the options for addressing these under societal constraints. Conventional approaches to risk assessment are challenged by the significant temporal and spatial dynamics of climate change; by the amplification of...
Chapter
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Deltas are dynamic and the relationships between ecosystem services, livelihoods and well-being within them are multi-scalar and often non-linear. Social mechanisms of access and management vary between different bundles of ecosystem services: a social-ecological system approach therefore identifies the trade-offs and interactions which occur acros...
Chapter
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Social survey and geographical data, stratified by social-ecological systems, are used to analyse multiple measures of poverty, in-depth information on rural livelihoods and coping strategies for populations in the delta region. The resultant dataset provides extensive information on the ways in which households use ecosystem services to generate w...
Chapter
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Demographic trends and projections have important implications for the use of ecosystem services and sustainability in the delta. The study area accounts for ten per cent of the national population and recently appears to have low rates of population growth. Analysis of components of population change (fertility, mortality and migration) indicates...
Chapter
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Seven distinct social-ecological systems are defined for the Bangladesh delta, based on analysis of the ways in which social systems differ according to the ecological system. These systems are rain-fed and irrigated agriculture, brackish and freshwater aquaculture, Charlands, coastal zones, and areas dependent on the Sundarbans mangrove forest. Th...
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Deltas are distinct in terms of the concentration of freshwater, nutrients and especially sediment inputs to a small concentrated area of the coastal zone, creating conditions ideal for fertile ecosystems, dense population and high economic activity. Ecosystem services within these areas can provide services significant in the maintenance of well-b...
Chapter
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Bangladesh is identified as an impact hotspot for sea-level rise in multiple studies. However, a range of other factors must be considered including catchment management, socio-economic development and governance quality, as well as delta plain biophysical processes. Taking an integrated assessment approach highlights that to 2050 future changes ar...
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The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta in Bangladesh is one of the world’s most dynamic deltas and supports high population densities based on large provisioning ecosystem services. Analysing the future of these ecosystem services and associated human livelihoods represents a complex multi-scale, multi-disciplinary problem. A conceptual framework aims...
Book
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This book answers key questions about environment, people and their shared future in deltas. It develops a systematic and holistic approach for policy-orientated analysis for the future of these regions. It does so by focusing on ecosystem services in the world’s largest, most populous and most iconic delta region, that of the Ganges-Brahmaputra de...
Article
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Planned relocation has been shown to have significant impacts on the livelihoods and wellbeing of people and communities, whether the resettlement process is inclusive or coercive. For states, planned relocation represents risks to those communities but also to government investments and political legitimacy. Evaluations of relocations commonly foc...
Article
Systemic climate risks, which result from the potential for cascading impacts through inter-related systems, pose particular challenges to risk assessment, especially when risks are transmitted across sectors and international boundaries. Most impacts of climate variability and change affect regions and jurisdictions in complex ways, and techniques...
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To minimize the impacts of climate change on human wellbeing, governments, development agencies, and civil society organizations have made substantial investments in improving people’s capacity to adapt to change. Yet to date, these investments have tended to focus on a very narrow understanding of adaptive capacity. Here, we propose an approach to...
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The concept of community is often used in environmental policy to foster environmental stewardship and public participation, crucial prerequisites of effective management. However, prevailing conceptualizations of community based on residential location or resource use are limited with respect to their utility as surrogates for communities of share...
Article
Slums and informal settlements are home to rapidly growing populations in urban areas globally and face a range of significant shocks and stresses. The sustainability of these places is critically intertwined with the resilience of their populations. The nature of the capacity for populations to adapt to shocks, as an element of resilience, is rela...
Article
Changing climates are outpacing some components of our food systems. Risk assessments need to account for these rates of change. Assessing risk transmission mechanisms across sectors and international boundaries and coordinating policies across governments are key steps in addressing this challenge.
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Polycentric governance involves multiple actors at multiple scales beyond the state. The potential of polycentric governance for promoting both climate mitigation and adaptation is well established. Yet, dominant conceptualizations of polycentric governance pay scant attention to how power dynamics affect the structure and the outcomes of climate a...
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Failure to stem trends of ecological disruption and associated loss of ecosystem services worldwide is partly due to the inadequate integration of the human dimension into environmental decision-making. Decision-makers need knowledge of the human dimension of resource systems and of the social consequences of decision-making if environmental manage...
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Moral foundations theory argues that moral reasoning is widely observed and fundamental to the legitimacy of relevant governance and policy interventions. A new analytical framework to examine and test how moral reasoning underpins and legitimizes governance and practice on adaptation to climate change risks is proposed. It develops a typology of e...
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The interactions between flood events, their aftermath, and recovery leading to health and wellbeing outcomes for individuals are complex, and the pathways and mechanisms through which wellbeing is affected are often hidden and remain under-researched. This study analyses the diverse processes that explain changes in wellbeing for those experiencin...
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Populations in resource dependent economies gain well-being from the natural environment, in highly spatially and temporally variable patterns. To collect information on this, we designed and implemented a1586-household quantitative survey in the southwest coastal zone of Bangladesh. Data were collected on material, subjective and health dimensions...
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The Lancet Countdown: tracking progress on health and climate change is an international, multidisciplinary research collaboration between academic institutions and practitioners across the world. It follows on from the work of the 2015 Lancet Commission, which concluded that the response to climate change could be “the greatest global health oppor...
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Avoiding losses from climate change requires socially engaged research that explains what people value highly, how climate change imperils these phenomena, and strategies for embracing and managing grief.
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Climate change, biodiversity loss, antibiotic resistance, and other global challenges pose major collective action problems: A group benefits from a certain action, but no individual has sufficient incentive to act alone. Formal institutions, e.g., laws and treaties, have helped address issues like ozone depletion, lead pollution, and acid rain. Ho...