Human competences that facilitate adaptation to climate change: a research in progress

Jackie Kerry (Université de Moncton, Moncton, Canada)
Diane Pruneau (Université de Moncton, Moncton, Canada)
Sylvie Blain (Université de Moncton, Moncton, Canada)
Joanne Langis (Université de Moncton, Moncton, Canada)
Pierre‐Yves Barbier (Université de Moncton, Moncton, Canada)
Marie‐Andrée Mallet (Université de Moncton, Moncton, Canada)
Evgueni Vichnevetski (Université de Moncton, Moncton, Canada)
Jimmy Therrien (Université de Moncton, Moncton, Canada)
Paul Deguire (Université de Moncton, Moncton, Canada)
Viktor Freiman (Université de Moncton, Moncton, Canada)
Mathieu Lang (Université de Moncton, Moncton, Canada)
Anne‐Marie Laroche (Université de Moncton, Moncton, Canada)

International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management

ISSN: 1756-8692

Publication date: 27 July 2012



For communities threatened by current or impending climate change, adaptation is becoming a necessity. Although little research has been done on human competences so far, this research shows that some appear to facilitate the adaptation process. The purpose of this multiple‐case study is to identify adaptive competences demonstrated by two groups of Canadian citizens: municipal employees in a coastal community and farmers.


As part of workshops based on a problem solving process, the two groups analyzed the impacts of climate change in their field of work and geographical area, chose a problem related to these impacts, suggested and then implemented adaptation measures. The municipal employees worked on sea level rise, whereas the farmers focused on poor soil quality, which makes it vulnerable to bad weather.


By thematically analyzing the verbatim transcripts of the workshops and by building narratives, the authors were able to identify similar adaptive competences in both groups: local knowledge, futures thinking, hindsight, risk prediction, critical thinking, decision‐making, and problem solving (highlighting key problem components, suggesting solutions, and identifying constraints). However, two competences were chiefly found in the group composed of farmers: optimism and openness to novelty.


This study is one of the first to lead to recommendations regarding the pedagogical support of citizens during an adaptation process to climate change. These recommendations might be helpful in many communities where adaptation to climate change is a pressing issue.



Kerry, J., Pruneau, D., Blain, S., Langis, J., Barbier, P., Mallet, M., Vichnevetski, E., Therrien, J., Deguire, P., Freiman, V., Lang, M. and Laroche, A. (2012), "Human competences that facilitate adaptation to climate change: a research in progress", International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 246-259.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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