A successful approach to adaptation requires new imagination that is guided by the vision of synergy and transdisciplinarity, different from commonly applied top-down and siloed approaches. Though some bottom-up and community-based adaptation programs, such as Local Adaptation Plans of Action (LAPA), are promising, some scholars doubt that the higher-level analytics based on scientific and bureaucratic framing have been superimposed to create “legitimacy” at the local level. In his 1998 book, Seeing Like a State, James Scott argues that a state-led and science-centered approach of governance often ignores lived experience and knowledge about solving problems, which he terms as “metis”. In the case of climate change adaptation, several scholars underscore the importance of these contextual measures.  On the other hand, considering the magnitude of the problems, these approaches may not be enough to help make the transition to a new and rapidly changing climate.  There is a need for collaboration between multiple sectors and the broader participation of multiple stakeholders for adapting to climate change with consideration of synergy between local and scientific knowledge.

My research explores how climate adaptation is imagined by local people and the stakeholders in the Gandaki River Basin (GRB), Nepal. I investigate plans and policies proposed in Nepal’s flagship climate adaptation policies, including the National Adaptation Program for Action at the central level and LAPAs at the local level. More specifically, my study examines adaptation programs implemented in the GRB, including LAPAs, to see if these programs have been able to capture metis or they are boosting agendas that prevail at the central level. I focus on major adaptation initiatives in water, energy, agriculture, and forestry sectors to investigate how an initiative in one sector can contribute or contradict with the goals of the other sector.