Nutritional Insecurity and Climate Change: Evaluating Adaptation Pathways in Indonesia

John F McCarthy

3Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Climate change poses a major threat to the livelihoods and food security of many people in rural Indonesia, especially those dependent on agriculture, fisheries or living on the forest fringe. Yet, as impacts are nestled among a range of complex factors that are highly contextual, the effect of climate change on food security will be complex and variable. While existing studies tend to focus on the impact of biophysical change on livelihoods, this paper applies an approach that analyses how climate related impacts are mediated through socio- political structures and processes. Drawing on available studies of climate related vulnerability, food security and adaptation in Indonesia that suggest that climate change compounds existing forms of nutritional and livelihood insecurity, the paper discusses emergent understandings of how biological processes, meteorological forces and socio-economic processes work together to produce vulnerability.  Based on an analysis of contexts where drivers of vulnerability are relatively well understood and where studies of adaptation strategies have already been undertaken, the paper develops an analysis of probable vulnerability/adaptation pathways.


John has worked on governance, institutions and rural development, especially forestry, agriculture, food security and land use. He is now working on social protection and food security in rural Indonesia. He has consulted to AusAID, ACIAR, and the World Bank. John is Associate Professor at the ANU Crawford School.




The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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