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This article examines the implications of the growing discussion around transformation and adaptation for development policy and practice. While there is increasing agreement that incremental approaches are insufficient to tackle climate change, and that deeper transformative change is also necessary, the ways in which transformation is understood vary significantly, and hence how it is to be operationalised remains unclear. Tracing the emergence of transformation in adaptation debates, and linking them to the intellectual roots of the idea of transformation, we interrogate different approaches that exist towards transformation in terms of moving beyond dominant neoliberal development trajectories. The article discusses some of the conceptual and practical challenges in bringing about transformational change in international development, concluding with some suggestions for the way forward in operationalising transformation for development in line with long-term climate change adaptation goals.

  • Publisher: IDS Bulletin, Institute of Development Studies
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