Getting the resilience right: climate change and development policy in the ‘African Age’

Michael Mikulewicz*, Marcus Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
287 Downloads (Pure)


Founded on a call to place climate change adaptation and climate risk management at the heart of contemporary development practice, the World Bank’s Africa Climate Business Plan presents an ambitious agenda for coordinating $19bn of loans, grants and investment over the coming decade. The centrepiece of this recasting of development thinking is the notion of resilience, which ties together the various activities proposed under the Plan. Resilience must respectively be strengthened, empowered and enabled in order for African countries to withstand climate change impacts. In this paper we subject this new climate-resilient development discourse to critical scrutiny. Using the theoretical lens of post-politics, we caution how the ill-defined category of resilience is deployed to reinforce a profoundly depoliticising agenda in which climate change is posited as an external threat to an otherwise seamless narrative of African advancement. In so doing, we illustrate how the Bank obscures the contested histories of African development and uses the discourse of climate-resilient development to perpetuate its neoliberal agenda within the continent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-641
Number of pages16
JournalNew Political Economy
Issue number4
Early online date5 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • climate change
  • adaptation
  • resilience
  • risk management
  • Africa
  • World Bank


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