Catherine Pettengell

Climate change is fast pushing communities, particularly the poorest and most marginalized, beyond their capacity to respond. Across the world, subsistence crops are approaching the limits of their viability as temperatures change; erratic rainfall patterns and changing seasons are upsetting agricultural cycles and leaving many struggling to feed their families; and rising sea levels are causing the inundation of crops and the contamination of water supplies with salt water. This report draws on case studies from around the world and Oxfam’s experience working with rural communities to set out what is needed and a range of interventions that are available, to enable people living in poverty to adapt to climate change. Nonetheless, there are limits to adaptation, and without rapid and significant global mitigation, these options will be quickly lost. Oxfam’s approach brings together experience in the areas of livelihoods, natural resource management, and disaster risk reduction. Uncertainty and risk can be managed using robust decision making in order to build adaptive capacity from household to national and global levels. Climate change forces us to draw the strands together, not only to lift people out of poverty, but also to enable them to manage risk and uncertainty and to shape, create, and respond to changes throughout their lives. This report identifies the need for a combination of bottom-up and top-down processes in order to create the enabling conditions needed for people living in poverty to adapt to climate change.

Published On


Multilateral / Transboundary
Sector Addressed
Climate Justice
Development (socioeconomic)
Disaster Risk Management
Rural / Indigenous Livelihoods
Water Resources
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Capacity Building
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Conduct vulnerability assessments and studies
Create stakeholder engagement processes to develop and implement adaptation strategies
Monitor climate change impacts and adaptation efficacy
Create/enhance resources and tools
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Community Planning (developing climate-smart communities)
Governance and Policy
Maintain adequate financial resources for adaptation
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Culture / communities
Sea level rise
Sociopolitical Setting