Integrating the Four Faces of Climate Change Adaptation: Towards Transformative Change in Guatemalan Coffee Communities

Gail Hochachka
Posted on: 11/23/2022 -

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Despite the complexity of climate change, the dominant definition and practice of adaptation remains reactive, incremental, and focused primarily on biophysical and techno-managerial changes. Researchers suggest this is necessary but insufficient, noting the importance of integrating subjectivity in a more comprehensive approach to adaptation and in moving toward deliberate transformation in a climate change context.

Here, I consider how to expand the scope and depth of ‘adaptation’ as it is currently defined and practiced, presenting an Integral conceptual framework that integrates the ‘interior’ forms of adaptation and thus can account for the diverse ways that local people are responding to entangled changes at the local level. Drawing on case study research in Guatemala, I explore how a more balanced integration of subjective and objective adaptive capacities, in individuals and collectives, leads to four types of adaptation—personal, practical, critical-structural, and co-generative.

Findings describe: 1) how critical-structural adaptations were helpful in disrupting structural arrangements in ways that practical adaptations alone were not; and 2) that the interior adaptations (personal and co-generative) were less emphasized overall but can be effectively integrated, either implicitly or explicitly, with dominant forms of adaptation practice. This study demonstrates how a more comprehensive approach to adaptation may better position communities to engage in transformative change.


Hochachka, G. (2021). Integrating the four faces of climate change adaptation: Towards transformative change in Guatemalan coffee communities. World Development, 140: 105361.