The University of Arizona

A historical, scaled approach to climate change adaptation: the case of Vietnam

Lili Salloum Lindegaard


This article sheds light on how scaled, historical dynamics inform the framing of climate change adaptation programs. It looks particularly at the influence of domestic versus global rationalities in adaptation programs through a novel joint governance and political ecology framework. It does this in the setting of water management in Vietnam. Based on a historical view, semi-structured interviews and document and policy reviews, I examine historical water management in Vietnam and current water management programs identified as climate change adaptation. By analyzing how historical, scaled political rationalities inform the framing of current adaptation programs, I find that program formulation reflects domestic(ated) rationalities rather than novel global adaptation agendas. This suggests that universalizing accounts of climate change adaptation overlook the significance of situated, historical factors in the formulation of adaptation programs. Furthermore, the article illustrates how political rationalities can be rescaled, gaining traction within new institutional scales and the programs enacted from them. Finally, the article underlines the inherent power implications of the struggle to determine whose rationalities prevail in program formulation.

Keywords: Climate change adaptation, water management, scale, rescaling, political rationalities, Vietnam

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