Adapting across boundaries: Climate change, social learning, and resilience in the U.S.-Mexico border region

Margaret Wilder, Christopher A. Scott, Nicolás Pineda Pablos, Robert G. Varady, Gregg M. Garfin, Jamie McEvoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

62 Scopus citations

Abstract

The spatial and human dimensions of climate change are brought into relief at international borderswhere climate change poses particular challenges. This article explores "double exposure" to climatic and globalization processes for the U.S.-Mexico border region, where rapid urbanization, industrialization, and agricultural intensification result in vulnerability to water scarcity as the primary climate change concern. For portions of the western border within the North American monsoon climate regime, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects temperature increases of 2 to 4°C by midcentury and up to 3 to 5°C by 2100, with possible decreases of 5 to 8 percent in precipitation. Like the climate and water drivers themselves, proposed societal responses can also be regionalized across borders. Nevertheless, binational responses are confronted by a complex institutional landscape. The coproduction of science and policy must be situated in the context of competing institutional jurisdictions and legitimacy claims. Adaptation to climate change is conventionally understood as more difficult at international borders, yet regionalizing adaptive responses could also potentially increase resilience. We assess three cases of transboundary collaboration in the Arizona-Sonora region based on specific indicators that contribute importantly to building adaptive capacity. We conclude that three key factors can increase resilience over the long term: shared social learning, the formation of binational "communities of practice" among water managers or disaster-relief planners, and the coproduction of climate knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)917-928
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Volume100
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 23 2010

Keywords

  • Adaptive capacity
  • Climate change
  • U.s.-mexico border
  • Vulnerability
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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