ABSTRACT

Change and flux are two of the concepts that best describe the state of society and the environment today. The last generation or so has witnessed extensive structural transformations: communism has fallen, market capitalism and democracy have spread, and economies and corporations have increasingly gone international. States have lost some of their sovereignty over economic and political changes to private actors and international organizations. Many of these transformations have been described under the heading of globalization, which is seen as the intensification, deepening and broadening of international ties and an increased awareness of the world as a whole (Keohane and Nye, 2000). At the same time, environmental change has become increasingly pronounced, as seen, for instance, in the widespread awareness of the pollution caused by industrialization and of its effects such as climate change. Human vulnerability to natural events and changes has been underscored by droughts, floods and changes in weather patterns – problems that could all change in intensity and frequency as climate change progresses. Adaptation to climate change is important, because, among other reasons, large-scale changes are unlikely to be manageable through mitigation (emission reduction) alone; mitigation will not be able to halt climate change in the near future, as this change will be the result of emissions that have already been released into the atmosphere (Smit and Wandel, 2006). 1