Trade-offs in climate adaptation management – Agricultural practitioners’ perspectives on the Nordic region

19:00 Tuesday 28 May




Lotten Wiréhn (Sweden) 1,2; Tina-Simone Neset (Sweden) 1,2; Janina Käyhkö (Finland) 3; Sirkku Juhola (Finland) 3

1 - Linköping University, Department of Thematic Studies - Environmental change; 2 - Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research; 3 - University of Helsinki

On a global scale, climate change poses significant challenges to agriculture that require climate change adaptation. Adaptation is also essential at northern latitudes to limit challenges and gain from opportunities. However, relatively few studies have specifically addressed adaptation needs, capacities, barriers or consequences in Nordic agriculture. WirŽhn (2018) demonstrates that suggested adaptation actions in Nordic agriculture involve potential trade-offs, as actions serve different purposes, and their consequences may counteract other socio-ecological goals. If possible outcomes of actions are aligned, it becomes evident that there are challenges concerning compromises or conflicts between individual adaptation practices (WirŽhn, 2018). Thus, there is a need for studies that systematically analyse adaptation-induced trade-offs.

In this presentation we address this need and present ongoing research that aims to increase the understanding of adaptation induced trade-offs and related decision-making in Nordic agriculture. We apply a novel method by integrating visualization, serious gaming and semi-structured interviews in Finland and Sweden. The Maladaptation Game, used in the interviews, has been developed to study and communicate potential unintended negative effects of adaptation in agriculture.It is designed as a virtual interactive card game where the player has to make decisions to adapt to four climate-related challenges. A number of adaptation measures and potential negative consequences of the actions are presented as possible responses to each challenge. The interviewees play the game in pairs whilst the game aims to function as support for dialogue on adaptation needs and choices. Responses from the semi-structured interviews and discussions are analyzed by means of thematic analysis to identify agricultural practitioners’ views on trade-offs and adaptation decision-making.

The preliminary results indicate that there are three types of adaptation-induced trade-offs: (i) climate adaptation – environmental objectives (e.g. expanded drainage systems vs. protection of wetland); (ii) climate adaptation – climate change mitigation (e.g. new (fertilizer intensive) crops vs. mitigation of GHG gases); and (iii) climate adaptation – agricultural management (e.g. adaptation to increased risk of soil compaction vs. improved production efficiency involving heavier machinery). Based on these results, we discuss responsibility and potential barriers for making decisions regarding trade-offs. Preliminary, this study concludes that adaptation decision-making involves constant trade-offs at different levels in agriculture. For the sector to be sustainable, there is a need to acknowledge these trade-offs and make active decisions both at policy- and farm system level.