Achieving Sustainable Future Objectives Under Uncertain Conditions: Application of A Learning Framework to Adaptation Pathways in Rural Mali

Edmond Totin, Mary Thompson-Hall, Carla Roncoli, Amadou Sidibé, Laura Schmitt Olabisi, Robert B. Zougmoré
Posted on: 11/25/2022 - Updated on: 11/25/2022

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Adaptation Pathways have emerged as promising approaches for exploring sequences of actions to address challenges in uncertain conditions. This study elaborates on how pathway approaches operate in practice by applying a learning framework that identifies guiding propositions for successful adaptation pathways. The framework is used to analyze a transformative scenario planning case study from rural Mali.

Findings confirm that adaptation pathways are highly context-specific, grounded in local institutions. The study also emphasizes that the adaptation pathways process requires a sufficient timeframe to allow for cross-level interactions and institutional changes to unfold as needed. The case demonstrates that the framework can be a useful tool for reflexive learning and identifying gaps in a structured way during pathway development. However, it needs to be adjusted to specific contexts to better capture the influence of and implications for power relations and social inequality in future adaptation plans.


  • Understanding power structures is critical for sustainable future planning
  • Engaging strategic partners facilitates a sustainable adaptation pathways process
  • Context-specific nature of adaptation pathways makes it difficult to replicate them
  • Sustainable adaptation pathways processes require time to materialize.


Totin, E., Thompson-Hall, M., Roncoli, C., Sidibé, A., Olabisi, L.S., Zougmoré R.B. (2021). Achieving sustainable future objectives under uncertain conditions: Application of a learning framework to adaptation pathways in rural Mali. Environmental Science and Policy, 116: 196–203.