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Abstract

Adaptation and resilience are two concepts originally developed in dissimilar problem contexts but which are of significant importance for our ability to respond to a changing climate. While both concepts encompass processes of change they differ in several important areas. This article discusses the relationship between the two concepts and highlights three issues concerned with our ability to respond to and manage change. First, although adaptation responses can help to build resilience, they just as easily can undermine resilience. Second, the magnitude of change may be outside our abilities to adapt, and thus it is not always possible to maintain system resilience. Finally, resilience is not a normative concept. The desirability of a resilient system, or community, must be considered in light of social goals and how benefits and risks are distributed. Better appreciation of the relationship between the concepts of adaptation and resilience will provide more effective tools to plan for, and respond to, current and future change. WIREs Clim Change 2011 2 113–120 DOI: 10.1002/wcc.91

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