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Moving beyond short-term coping and adaptation

  • Christine Wamsler
  • Ebba Brink
Publishing year: 2014
Language: English
Pages: 86-111
Publication/Series: Environment & Urbanization
Volume: 26
Issue: 1
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: SAGE Publications Inc.

Abstract english

Throughout human history, people have coped with, and adapted

to, their environment. This accumulated capacity at local level is increasingly recognized to be critical in improving resilience and transformation. Nevertheless, city dwellers’ coping and adaptive practices are little known, poorly documented and often not taken into account in the work of municipal authorities and aid organizations. Against this background, this study provides a systematic overview

of urban residents’ coping and adaptive practices, presents critical insights into their risk-reducing effects and discusses their role in the development of policies and projects to increase resilience. It shows that coping should not automatically be seen as maladaptive. The success or failure of urban societies in building resilience and moving towards transformation does not necessarily depend on the

effectiveness of individual coping strategies but on the flexibility and inclusiveness of coping/adaptation systems at the individual, household and community level (i.e. the combined set of strategies). Therefore, it is crucial to support the ability of urban communities to negotiate their needs and rights in order to increase the flexibility and inclusiveness of these systems and make them more viable in today’s context.


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • community-based risk reduction
  • adaptive practice
  • adaptation
  • climate change
  • resilience
  • adaptive capacity
  • coping strategies
  • urban transformation


  • ISSN: 1746-0301
Christine Wamsler
E-mail: christine [dot] wamsler [at] lucsus [dot] lu [dot] se


LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)

+46 46 222 80 80

Josephson, 219

Josephson, Biskopsgatan 5, Lund



Christine Wamsler is Professor at Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS), Research Fellow at the Centre of Natural Disaster Science (CNDS), Associate of Lund University Centre for Risk Assessment and Management (LUCRAM), and Honorary Fellow of the Global Urbanism Research Group, Global Development Institute (GDI) of the University of Manchester, UK.

She is an expert in sustainable urban development, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction with more than 20 years of working experience, both in theory and practice.


P.O. Box 170, SE-222 70 Lund, Sweden
Phone: +46(0)46- 222 80 81
info [at] lucsus [dot] lu [dot] se