PDIA and Climate Change Adaptation

written by Tim O’Brien and Salimah Samji


We launched a pilot course entitled “The Practice of PDIA: Adapting to Climate Change,” in September 2017. This was our first attempt at customizing our free, PDIA online course to a specific theme of development problems. Our motivations in choosing climate change adaptation as an anchor for the course were:

  • A growing understanding that the impacts of climate change are increasingly making complex development challenges harder, and often presenting binding constraints to the growth of inclusive well-being in particular places;
  • A hypothesis that the tools and processes of the PDIA approach could be useful to address climate change vulnerabilities on various scales by empowering local teams and building local capabilities;
  • An observation that local vulnerabilities to climate change could present the kind of shared problems around which coalitions can form and capabilities can emerge for both adaptation and development;
  • An assumption that building resilience is rarely constrained by finance or technology, but often by a lack of shared knowhow to make use of these tools;
  • And a question of whether the development community’s toolkit for climate change adaptation might need to be less focused on discrete projects and “scaling solutions,” and more focused on building a highly-connected and adaptive global community of practice.

Continue reading PDIA and Climate Change Adaptation

We recently ran a PDIA course on climate change adaptation. Why?

written by Tim O’Brien


Leader of farming cooperative in central Sri Lanka that diversified into ginger production as drought increasingly hurt rice cultivation.

If you live in a developed country, odds are that you think about climate change as something that will harm future generations — your children or your grandchildren perhaps. But if you live in a poor country, chances are much higher that you think of climate change as a source of problems that are affecting you and your family today. Climate change may not be the most important problem for you if you live in a developing country, but odds are that it is making your problems worse.

The climate is changing globally, but vulnerabilities are faced locally, usually in ways that exacerbate existing development challenges. For most poor farmers, when and how the rain falls matters a great deal. But climate change is tending to affect seasonal patterns on which many farmers rely, paradoxically increasing the frequency and severity of both droughts and floods, often in the same places. In many poor cities, climate change is increasing water scarcity, flooding, landslides and overall risk of extreme weather events. For people without electricity in tropical countries, heat waves are increasingly deadly events. For communities that depend on fishing as a means of both income and food, ocean acidification is both an economic and health issue. For countries with weak infrastructure, limited budgets and undiversified economies, macroeconomic vulnerability to weather shocks continues to grow more severe. Continue reading We recently ran a PDIA course on climate change adaptation. Why?