Limits to adaptation: Building an integrated research agenda

Frans Berkhout, Kirstin Dow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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The IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report Working Group II report of (2022) has brought greater attention to the issue of limits to the capacity to adapt to climate change. But the report also showed that research in the field continues to be fragmented and under-developed, and that the problem of limits is not widely considered in policy. In this paper we argue for a more coherent, interdisciplinary approach to research on adaptation limits, linked to the concept of transformative adaptation. A risk-based approach to adaptation limits offers a framework to deepen, broaden and connect research which responds to the needs of policymakers. We set out four promising directions for future research on: the dimensions of limits; the dynamics of limits; formalisation of research on limits; and ethics and justice challenges underpinning adaptation limits.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2022


  • climate change
  • adaptation
  • risk-based approach
  • limits to adaptation


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