Adaptation in a transboundary river basin: Linking stressors and adaptive capacity within the Mekong River Commission

Tanya Heikkila, Andrea K. Gerlak, Andrew R. Bell, Susanne Schmeier

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    River basin organizations serve as potential forums to promote adaptation to environmental change in transboundary river basins. Yet how these organizations adapt is an understudied area of the literature. We explore and compare four examples of adaptation within the Mekong River Commission (MRC), focusing on how the nature of stressors shapes adaptation responses. We measure adaptation responses in terms of adaptive capacity, which includes technical, institutional, social and financial capacity. We find that the uncertainty of the impact of stressors plays a role in shaping the extent of adaptive capacity. We also find that the adaptive response may depend on a river basin organization's pre-existing capacity to address the stressor. Finally, our research suggests that investments in new capacity can create a feedback mechanism that helps reduce uncertainty and foster further adaptation.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)73-82
    Number of pages10
    JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
    Volume25
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jan 2013

    Keywords

    • Adaptation
    • Adaptive capacity
    • Climate change
    • Flooding
    • Hydropower
    • River basin organization

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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