“Adaptation in Small Islands: Research Themes and Gaps”

  • Tony WeirEmail author
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


This paper classifies the literature relating to adaptation in small island developing states (SIDS), especially in the Pacific Islands, with a view to identifying gaps where further research could facilitate useful action. The main themes emerging are: (1) Social issues. (2) sectoral impacts of climate change. (3) community-based adaptation (on which most studies are only in informal literature). (4) relocation of communities, both internationally (widely studied though little acted on as yet) or in-country (an emerging response in the Pacific but comparatively little studied). (5) financing at various levels for adaptation (far outweighed by financing for mitigation), (6) islander perceptions of climate change and their information sources. Researchers based in the islands and regional organisations have an important role in recognising these issues and in developing the local skills base needed to deal with them. The Paris Agreement of 2015 is a positive (but as yet inadequate) step towards the international action on climate change that small island developing states need. It would be particularly useful for researchers to document more cases of successes and failures (and the reasons for them) in community-based adaptation, community relocation (especially in-country relocation), and adaptation (or lack of it) in looser peri-urban communities. Researchers can also greatly assist the positions of the islands’ negotiators by documenting the economic and social costs incurred by current and projected climate change, the effectiveness (or otherwise) of the financing mechanisms, and the extent to which ‘loss and damage’ is being incurred.


Pacific islands Community relocation Climate change Adaptation Research gaps 



This paper is an updated version of an earlier review by Weir and Pittock (2017). I thank Melanie Pill of ANU for her helpful comments on an earlier draft.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fenner School of Environment and SocietyAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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