Climate adaptation through innovation

In tandem with the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21)* in Paris, explore insight shared by CSPO faculty and affiliates regarding climate change and social impacts.
*(Refers to countries that signed up to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.)
Netra Chhetri is an Associate Professor with ASU’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society, the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, and Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes. His experience and interest on global food security has evolved into his focus on impacts of climate change to global food systems, leading him to be one of the contributing authors of the AR4 and AR5 to the WG II of the IPCC. Chhetri is Principal Investigator on a collaborative research project examining the adaptive capacity of farmers and livestock keepers in Nepal.


Climate-resilient pathways through grassroots innovation, engagement, and knowledge co-creation: Nepali farmers developing community-based adaptation plan to build resiliency in their crop-livestock systems.

For almost a generation, adaptation in response to a changing climate has been the neglected stepchild of climate policy. Even as adaptation has more recently gained mainstream acceptance as an unavoidable response to changing climate, it continues to be a sideshow to efforts to establish a binding limit on emissions through international agreement. But a focus on adaptation draws attention to opportunities for achieving desirable social outcomes like sustainable food and energy systems, and more equitable wealth distribution—outcomes that can both improve resilience in the face of climate change and reduce human contributions to warming. Pragmatically, effective response to climate change thus necessitates investment in innovation (both technological and institutional) aimed at human adaptations to changing contexts, needs, and socio-economic conditions. Highly ambitious development agendas, such as the sustainable development goals currently under consideration by the U.N., in turn become more feasible when it is framed within the context of adaptation as innovation. A properly framed vision of climate adaptation can thus create a multitude of political opportunities and policy pathways by shifting the focus away from prescriptive policy regimes that foster gridlock, toward the pursuit of enhanced human thriving and resilient socio-ecological systems that can sustain us in the future.

More about research project: Adaptive Pathways to Climate Change (APaCC): Livestock and Livelihood Systems in Gandaki River Basin: While climate change in Nepal is also taking place in the context of many important other ongoing social and economic changes, highly variable and unpredictable climatic condition is weakening the crop-livestock systems of over 70 percent of Nepalese farmers. Absent a “science-based and community-driven” model of innovation and development, the coupled crop-livestock based livelihoods—once considered sustainable and in harmony with local ecological systems—is at risk. Farmers and their supporting institutions must increase their adaptive capacity and become more resilient. This USAID funded project examines adaptive capacity of farmers and livestock keepers vulnerable to exposure driven by climate and other livelihoods stressors, and links this understanding to the locally relevant climate portfolio. Leveraging and building upon local knowledge and expertise as well engaging with number of local and national stakeholders, this project hopes to develop local adaptive capacity needed to maintain the livelihoods of communities in Nepal.

Related publications:

Adapting to Climate Change: Retrospective Analysis of Climate Technology Interaction in the Rice-Based Farming System of Nepal

Climate Pragmatism: Innovation, Resilience and No Regrets

Institutional and technological innovation: Understanding agricultural adaptation to climate change in Nepal

Adaptation as innovation, innovation as adaptation: An institutional approach to climate change

Climate adaptation: Institutional response to environmental constraints, and the need for increased flexibility, participation, and integration of approaches

Adaptive capacity in light of Hurricane Sandy: The need for policy engagement

Turning conflict into collaboration in managing commons: A case of Rupa Lake Watershed, Nepal

O’Neill, D., J. H. Takamura Jr., N. Chhetri, M. Henderson and B. Rogers. 2012. Frugal Innovation. Pp. 96-113 In: Colledge, T. H. ed., Convergence: Philosophies and Pedagogies for Developing the Next Generation of Humanitarian Engineers and Social Entrepreneurs. International Journal of Service Learning in Engineering: Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship.

Chhetri, N. B. and N. Chhetri. 2015. Alternative imaginations: Examining complementarities across knowledge systems. Pp. 11-24 In: Sumida Huaman, E. and B. Sriraman eds., Indigenous Innovation: Universalities and Peculiarities. Sense Publishers.

Lifting the taboo on adaptation

Breaking the Global-Warming Gridlock