Climate Change, Adaptation and Formal Education: The Role of Schooling for Increasing Societies' Adaptive Capacities

Research output: Book/ReportReport


With a worldwide increase in disasters, the effects of climate change are already being felt, and it is the urban poor in developing countries that are most at risk. There is an urgent need to better understand the factors that determine people’s capacity to cope with and adapt to adverse climate conditions. This paper examines the influence of formal education in determining the adaptive capacity of the residents of two low-income settlements: Los Manantiales in San Salvador (El Salvador) and Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), where climate-related disasters are recurrent. In both case study areas it was found that the average levels of education were lower for households living at high risk, as opposed to residents of lower risk areas. In this context, the influence of people’s level of education was identified to be twofold due to (a) its direct effect on aspects that reduce risk, and (b) its mitigating effect on aspects that increase risk. The results further suggest that education plays a more determinant role for women than for men in relation to their capacity to adapt. In light of these results, the limited effectiveness of institutional support identified by this study might also relate to the fact that the role of formal education has so far not been sufficiently explored. Promoting (improved access to and quality of) formal education as a way to increase people’s adaptive capacity is further supported in respect to the negative effects of disasters on people’s level of education, which in turn reduce their adaptive capacity, resulting in a vicious circle of increasing risk.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Other Civil Engineering
  • Building Technologies
Original languageEnglish
PublisherInternational Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
VolumeIIASA Interim Report IR-11-024
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch

Publication series

NameSummary of the outcomes of the project component b of the EU project ‘Forecasting Societies’ Adaptive Capacities to Climate Change’
VolumeIIASA Interim Report IR-11-024

Bibliographic note

IIASA project report, summary of the outcomes of the project component b of the EU project ‘Forecasting Societies’ Adaptive Capacities to Climate Change’, Laxenburg: IIASA.

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