Summary: C. R. Geoscience 337 (2005) 399410
External Geophysics, Climate and Environment
Uncertainty in adaptive capacity
W. Neil Adger
, Katharine Vincent
Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
Received 25 June 2004; accepted after revision 26 October 2004
Written on invitation of the Editorial Board
The capacity to adapt is a critical element of the process of adaptation: it is the vector of resources that represent the asset base
from which adaptation actions can be made. Adaptive capacity can in theory be identified and measured at various scales, from
the individual to the nation. The assessment of uncertainty within such measures comes from the contested knowledge domain
and theories surrounding the nature of the determinants of adaptive capacity and the human action of adaptation. While generic
adaptive capacity at the national level, for example, is often postulated as being dependent on health, governance and political
rights, and literacy, and economic well-being, the determinants of these variables at national levels are not widely understood.
We outline the nature of this uncertainty for the major elements of adaptive capacity and illustrate these issues with the example
of a social vulnerability index for countries in Africa. To cite this article: W.N. Adger, K. Vincent, C. R. Geoscience 337 (2005).
2004 Académie des sciences. Published by Elsevier SAS. All rights reserved.