Mind the gap: The role of mindfulness in adapting to increasing risk and climate change

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


It is becoming clear that increasingly complex global challenges cannot simply be solved by new technology or governments alone. We also need to develop new social practices and encourage a broader cultural shift towards sustainability. Against this background, this paper explores the role of mindfulness in adapting to increasing risk and climate change. Based on a literature review, it assesses current research on ‘mindful climate adaptation’, and explores how individual mindfulness is linked to climate adaptation. While in practice mindfulness-based approaches to climate adaptation have gained widespread recognition (e.g., by the United Nations), the results show that related research is scarce and fragmented. There is almost no research into the role of mindfulness in climate adaptation. At the same time, new scientific domains are opening up in cognate fields that illuminate the mindfulness–adaptation nexus from certain perspectives. These fields include: (1) disaster management; (2) individual well-being; (3) organisational management; (4) environmental behaviour; (5) social justice; and (6) knowledge production. As new concepts and approaches emerge, they require critical construct validation and empirical testing. The importance of further investigation is supported by a complementary empirical study, which shows that individual mindfulness disposition coincides with increased motivation to take (or support) climate adaptation actions. The paper concludes that mindfulness has the potential to facilitate adaptation at all scales (through cognitive, managerial, structural, ontological, and epistemological change processes) and should, therefore, become a core element in climate and associated sustainability research. Finally, it sketches the conceptual trajectories of the mindfulness–adaptation nexus and presents a pioneering, comprehensive framework for ‘mindful climate adaptation’.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Sciences
  • Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)


  • Adaptation, Climate change, Compassion, Emotions, Inner transformation, Inner transition, Mindful climate adaptation, Native knowledge, Organisational mindfulness, Planning, Political mindfulness, Risk reduction, Sustainability, Traditional knowledge, Urban governance, Urban transformation, Well-being
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1121-1135
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number4
Early online date2018 Jan 4
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jul
Publication categoryResearch