Mindsets for Sustainability: Exploring the Link Between Mindfulness and Sustainable Climate Adaptation

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Growing globalisation and climate change are challenging the sustainability of our societies. It is now clear that climate change and its devastating impacts cannot be resolved by new technology or governance alone. They require a broader, cultural shift. As a result, the role of human beings' ‘inner dimensions’ and related transformations is attracting increased attention from researchers. Recent advances in neuroscience suggest for instance that mindfulness can open new pathways towards sustainability. However, the role of mindfulness in climate adaptation has been largely ignored. This paper is the first exploratory empirical investigation into linking individuals' intrinsic mindfulness (as opposed to outside mindfulness interventions) to pro- and reactive climate adaptation. Based on a survey of citizens at risk from severe climate events, we explore if, and how individual mindfulness is correlated with climate adaptation at different scales. The results show that individual mindfulness coincides with higher motivation to take climate adaptation actions or to support them, especially actions that are ‘other-focused’ or support pro-environmental behaviour. Mindfulness may also corroborate the acknowledgement of climate change and associated risk perception, and it may steer people away from fatalistic attitudes. We conclude with a call for more research into the relationship between human beings' inner dimensions and climate adaptation in the wider public domain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-61
Number of pages7
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sep 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Environmental Sciences


  • Climate change adaptation
  • Consciousness
  • Inner transformation
  • Inner transition
  • Interiority
  • Mindfulness
  • Pro-environmental behaviour
  • Pro-social behaviour
  • Religion
  • Risk reduction
  • Spirituality
  • Sustainability
  • Values
  • Wellbeing
  • Worldviews


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