Adapting to Climate Change in Pacific Island Countries: The Problem of Uncertainty

This paper investigates the problem of scientific uncertainty and the way it impedes planning for climate change and accelerated sea-level rise (CC & ASLR) in Pacific Island Countries (PICs). The paper begins by discussing the problems CC & ASLR poses for PICs, and it explores the limitations of the dominant approach to vulnerability and adaptation. Next, the paper considers the way scientific uncertainty problematizes policies aimed at adaptation to CC & ASLR. It argues that the prevailing approach, which requires anticipation of impacts, is unsuccessful, and the paper proposes a complementary strategy aimed to enhance the resilience of whole island social-ecological systems. Recent developments in the theory and practice of resilience are discussed and then applied to formulate goals for adaptation policy in PICs.