Displacement induced by climate change adaptation : The case of ‘climate buffer’ infrastructure

Warner, Jeroen Frank; Wiegel, Hanne


Climate buffer infrastructure is on the rise as a promising ‘green’ climate adaptation strat-egy. More often than not, such infrastructure building is legitimized as an urgent technical inter-vention—while less attention is paid to the distribution of costs and benefits among the affected population. However, as this article shows, adaptation interventions may directly or indirectly re-sult in the relocation or even eviction of households or communities, thereby increasing vulnerabilities for some while intending to reduce long-term climate vulnerabilities for all. We argue that this raises serious, if underappreciated, ethical issues that need to be more explicitly addressed in adaptation policy making. We illustrate our conceptual argument with the help of three examples of infrastructural ‘climate buffers’: Space for the River projects in the Netherlands, the Diamer–Bhasha dam in Pakistan and the coastal protection plan in Jakarta, Indonesia.