Main Article Content
The research presented in this paper studied the functional linkages between risk and adaptation appraisal and the psychosocial discourse variables that influence the outcomes for adaptive capacity of island communities to the impact of climate change. Qualitative data was gathered from focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews in five, purposively selected communities of the Maldives, from June to December 2015. The findings showed that risk appraisal was enhanced by direct experiences encountered and social construction of climate change. We found that a negative appraisal of adaptation arises due to lack of resources, fatalism and wishful thinking. While objective adaptive capacity was low, a higher subjective adaptive capacity was observed. The results also showed that people’s ecological knowledge of the reef-island systems depended on their livelihood practices, and that changes to modern livelihood practices can lead to loss of deep ecological knowledge and lead to dependency on external data only for adaptation. The findings add to the research on importance of meanings, ideas, behaviours and values of people, and the agency of such variables for positive appraisal of risks and adaptation.